Louis C.K. returned to the stage and women in comedy have thoughts

Is anyone ready?
Is anyone ready?
Image: Invision/AP/Chris Pizzello/
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Comedian Louis C.K. made an unannounced appearance at the Comedy Cellar in New York on Sunday (August 26), where he worked on some material that fellow comedian Mo Amer called “like, classic Louis, really really good,” according to the New York Times.

Before last November, when five women came forward to speak publicly about the comedian’s habit of masturbating in front of women in the industry—behavior Louis C.K. admitted to and semi-apologized for—his surprise drop-in would have been a pinch-me moment for fans and tourists in the audience.

Now that his apparently decades-old pattern of engaging in misbehavior, then denying it, and then thwarting women’s careers, is public knowledge, one would imagine that the audience response would have been tepid. After all, as journalist Dana Schwartz at Entertainment Weekly notes, he used the same power structure that has long favored men like him (the ability to show up and do a set uninvited is reserved for only icons, who are mostly male) to essentially force himself on the audience.

He reportedly got a standing ovation.

But a day later, when the comedian Michael Ian Black posted a tweet supporting Louis C.K.’s return, writing that “people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives,” he was lambasted on social media, and forced to do some soul-searching himself, before apologizing. 

Whether there can be a second act, or forgiveness, for men like Louis C.K. and others who have lost their jobs and been dethroned as cultural leaders since the #MeToo movement began is debatable. But anyone feeling unsure about Louis C.K.’s return less than a year since the revelations came out should probably check out what women who work in comedy, who have been most directly impacted by his former behavior, have to say.

On Twitter, their statements have been scornful, sarcastic, and clever. We’ve collected a few of the best: