Actor and comedian Louis C.K. on Sunday night performed a surprise comedy set in New York, his first on-stage appearance after admitting last fall to sexually harassing five women, whose stories were detailed in a New York Times story.
His apparent attempt at a comeback, in which he did not mention the sexual misconduct incidents, sparked outrage and criticism. Many female comedians argued on Tuesday that giving Louis C.K. a renewed platform comes at the expense of women who are still underrepresented in comedy.
They also pointed out the need to give more attention to survivors of sexual harassment and assault — many of whom are never afforded any prospects for a career comeback and are instead forced out of their industries.
Several others criticized comedian Michael Ian Black for posting that people like Louis C.K. should “be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives.”
Responding to Black, comedian Jen Kirkman wrote that Louis C.K. — who, in his apology last fall, said that he would “step back and take a long time to listen” — should talk about those supposed reflections. She also noted that the onus is often on women to start these conversations.
In a lengthy thread on Twitter, comedian Kathy Griffin said C.K.’s return to the stage was the result of the “white boys club” and called it “fucking pathetic.”
“Louis just went on a long vacation and didn’t do anything to show that he has reformed/changed,” Griffin wrote. “He’s a multi-millionaire who finally got some sleep after working nonstop for years.”
Representatives for Louis C.K. did not immediately return a request for comment. HuffPost also reached out to several of the women who spoke out against Louis C.K. in the initial New York Times story published in November that detailed years of sexual misconduct. None of them immediately responded to a request for comment.
One of them, comedian Rebecca Corry, wrote in May that whether he makes a “comeback” is not the point.
“The idea that C.K. reentering the public eye would ever be considered a ‘comeback’ story is disturbing,” she wrote in a piece published by Vulture. “The guy exploited his position of power to abuse women. A ‘comeback’ implies he’s the underdog and victim, and he is neither. C.K. is a rich, powerful man who was fully aware that his actions were wrong. Yet he chose to behave grotesquely simply because he could. The only issue that matters is whether he will choose to stop abusing women.”