The Louis C.K. comeback tour is not going well. Months after stirring controversy with “surprise” performances at New Yorks Comedy Cellar, C.K. dismissed survivors of mass shootings, gender non-conforming individuals, and more in a leaked recording of his latest set.
On Sunday, an audio recording of the performance was going viral before the 48-minute clip was pulled from YouTube. In the recording, C.K. bemoans the state of his career after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct in 2017—allegations he corroborated in a New York Times exposé—asking the crowd, “Ever have an entire year that sucks 365 [expletive] days in a row?” Later, as patrons appeared to express discomfort with his jokes, the comedian said, “What, are you gonna take away my birthday? My life is over, I dont give a s–t. You can, you can be offended, its O.K.”
Vanity Fair has confirmed with Governors Comedy Club owner James Dolce that Louis C.K. played six shows over a twelve-day period at his Long Island clubs, though Dolce is unaware which performance was recorded, or by whom. Dolce also confirmed an “open-door policy” for the comedian to perform future shows at his venues, and that he heard no audience complaints from the sold-out shows. A separate NBC News report also clarified that patrons knew ahead of time Louis C.K. would be performing.
Asked about any apprehension with allowing C.K. to perform, given the comedians recent controversies, Dolce told Vanity Fair, “Not at all. Comedy is comedy. As far as, what else, thats not my concern. Im not his agent, Im not his manager, Im just a clubowner. And when you get a legendary comic like that playing your clubs, youre just so fortunate, you know?”
The wide-ranging set repeatedly lambasted political correctness and younger generations—including a segment that appeared to mock survivors of high school shootings. “Youre not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot,” C.K. stated. “Why does that mean I have to listen to you? Why does that make you interesting? You didnt get shot, you pushed some fat kid in the way, and now I gotta listen to you talking?” The bit did not specifically reference survivors of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, though surviving student and outspoken activist Cameron Kasky nonetheless offered a rebuttal to The Wrap.
“Its not my job to tell a comedian theyre being offensive. I believe comedy exists to be offensive,” Kasky said. “I dont particularly like that Louis C.K. went after the idea of the movement we started, but comedy is comedy and I dont think me being offended by it should dictate whether or not it should be allowed to exist.” Casky subsequently tweeted C.K. was still an “ass” and “professional jerk” for his comments.
Another stretch of C.K.s routine called attention to changing gender identity norms, of which the comedian expressed ridicule for those with preferred pronouns. “Theyre like royalty, they tell you what to call them,” C.K. stated. “You should address me as they/them, because I identify as gender neutral. Oh, O.K. You should address me as there, because I identify as a location. And the location is your mothers c–t.” In the clip, C.K. also defended his use of the word “retarded,” and repeatedly referred to his doctor using a gay slur.
It is unclear who recorded or leaked the set, or who removed it from YouTube.
C.K.s return to public performance has generally been met with unease. In the year since he was alleged to have masturbated in front of multiple women without their consent (C.K. later apologized for his behavior), the FX network severed professional ties with the comedian, and his film I Love You, Daddy was shelved. HBO also removed its library of programming and stand-up comedies featuring C.K., and Netflix scrapped a planned comedy special.
Requests to C.K.s lawyer for comment were not answered.
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