When I was in University I decided to become a comedian. This was going to be my new path in life, my ultimate goal. It never happened, but it made for a lot of great memories. There were a lot of comedians that drew me to the form: Mike Birbiglia, Eugene Mirman, Pete Holmes. These were my idols. Unfortunately, one of my idols also happened to be Louis CK, and the sad truth is that Louis CK ruined Louis CK.
He finally admitted to all of the disgusting things he had done to female comics over his career, but the accusations against Louis CK had been mounting for a long time. I didn’t want to believe that any of it was true. How could someone I considered a great comedian, an intelligent artist, and a caring father be such a terrible person?
Louis CK said in his apology: “The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.” That’s a fairly big understatement for masturbating in front of women without their consent. Louis’ actions caused several of these promising performers to leave show business entirely. Yet he continued to produce a show on FX and release a comedy special every year.
For me, those works were pure gold. I always looked forward to the new Louis CK special every year. It was like a second Christmas for comedy fans. I speak in the past tense because I don’t know if I can consume anything Louis has ever made again. I can’t look at him the same way knowing that while he was garnering accolades and success, he was also treating talented and driven women like they were totally disposable.
Louis CK ruined not only his own reputation as the comic’s comic, but also the work he had done over his career. I remember touting his show to anyone who would listen. “You have to watch it! It’s brilliant!” I would say. Now I think about the scenes on that show where Louis would profess his feelings to a woman or have a sexual encounter, and all I can do is cringe.
I ask myself how someone who did those things could say he supports female comics. Louis suggested that Tig Notaro release her album Live, an impromptu set about her breast cancer diagnosis. He also executive produced her show, One Mississippi. That didn’t make him a good person. Tig Notaro showed a tremendous amount of bravery talking about her cancer on stage and again when she publicly spoke out against Louis.
It doesn’t seem fair to comedy fans that Louis CK ruined everything he ever did and would do in the future with his horrendous behavior, but that is the reality we live in. Thankfully there are many other great comedians out there who don’t feel compelled to masturbate in front of women. I’m not sad for Louis. His fall from grace was deserved. I’m sad that someone whom I believed to have some integrity ruined the lives of women who could have been just as great.
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