Too Soon? Louis C.K. Returns to Stage

Photo Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
August 30, 2018

By Max Godnick

Louis C.K.'s return to the stage is no laughing matter ー especially not to women.

"In the comedy club environment, the power belongs to that person on the stage," Entertainment Weekly correspondent Dana Schwartz said Thursday in an interview on Cheddar.

C.K. made a surprise appearance on Sunday at the Comedy Cellar in New York City, his first set since five women accused him last November of masturbating in front of them.

The attempted comeback has drawn mixed reactions from the entertainment industry. Some, like comedian Melinda Hill, took to Twitter with the hashtag #MeTooSoon, while Michael Che and Michael Ian Black defended C.K.'s right to perform. Both men ultimately receded: Che scrubbed Instagram of the evidence, and Black wrote a conciliatory post on Twitter, vowing to donate money to victims of sexual abuse.

"We have to be aware that they are incredibly successful male comedians," Schwartz said. "Female comedians will have a much different perspective because the comedy community has not been built for them."

Despite the shock value, C.K.'s unannounced drop-in at the Comedy Cellar is a fairly common move in the industry. A-list stars frequently show up at amateur nights to practice new material on unsuspecting, intimate audiences. In this case, though, perhaps the vaunted venue should have known better.

"It represents not only a lack of awareness to the situation, but also this self-indulgence toward his fame and power that he can just drop in anytime," Schwartz said.

Sunday night's performance came nearly one year after the dawn of the #MeToo movement, when the New York Times and the New Yorker each published devastating exposés about Harvey Weinstein and his decades of sexual misconduct. Now, Schwartz said, the movement finds itself at a crossroads, as Matt Lauer, Aziz Ansari, Chris Hardwick, and other accused celebrities are reportedly plotting comebacks.

"The #MeToo movement is at a critical moment right now where we're deciding what happens now, what's the next step?" she said.

For Schwartz, the issue would be vastly different in another field.

"People are blindsided by fame and performers," she said. "If we transpose what Louis did to any other career, the same gray area doesn't exist."

For full interview click here.