‘Typical Louis’

Louis C.K. makes surprise return to comedy scene, prompting new round of outrage

Louis C.K. (Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Tribeca TV Festival)

Louis C.K. made an unannounced appearance at New York City’s iconic Comedy Cellar on Sunday night, in what is believed to be his first stand-up performance since the popular comedian admitted last year to having forced at least five women to watch him masturbate. News of his re-emergence on the comedy scene sparked a heavy blowback on social media.

Noam Dworman, the owner of the popular Greenwich Village club, told The New York Times that C.K. arrived around 11 p.m. and asked to perform an impromptu set. He went on stage for 15 minutes, Dworman said, and was “very relaxed” while touching on “typical Louis C.K. stuff,” such as racism and how to know how much one should tip a waitress. An audience of about 115 people welcomed him with an ovation even before C.K. began his set, Dworman added.

“It sounded just like he was trying to work out some new material, almost like any time of the last 10 years he would come in at the beginning of a new act,” Dworman, who wasn’t at the club that night but watched a tape of the performance, recalled.

On Tuesday, the comic’s name was among the top terms trending on Twitter all day. A great many of those weighing on C.K.’s attempted comeback believe it’s way too soon for him to return from exile. Here’s a sampling of what the reaction looked like.

While much of the reaction on social media was a venting of outrage, some suggested C.K.’s return could be permissible — had it come with some sense of genuine contrition and an ambition to change the landscape of the entertainment industry for women. Former late-night TV writer Nell Scovell offered three reasonable criteria for the type of restitution he might make before hopping up on stage.

Asked about whether he had considered barring the popular comedian from performing in wake of the allegations against him, Dworman, the club owner, said that he cares “about doing the right thing” but that “there can’t be a permanent life sentence on someone who does something wrong,” and that he preferred to let audiences decide whether they wanted to hear him perform for themselves. In May, Sarah Silverman, who has maintained a long friendship with the embattled comic, made similar suggestions in an interview with GQ magazine in which she said that C.K. had learned his lesson and she didn’t “see any reason why” he couldn’t get behind the mic again.

Back in May, Women in the World polled Twitter followers on whether C.K. deserved to be allowed a comeback or whether he should suffer a lifetime ban. Some 44 percent of respondents chose “ban him for life” while 41 percent thought it was “still too soon” but left open a possibility for a return to the stage. Fifteen percent thought he was clear for a return even in May. What do you think think now? Vote below.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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