News & Politics

Louis C.K. Isn't 'Punching Down' at the Parkland Kids

Louis C.K. appears onstage at Comedy Central's "Night of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together for Autism Programs" at the Beacon Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015 in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

Louis C.K. is one of the best stand-up comedians of the past 20 years. Even a lot of the people who now hate his guts, and who never want to see or hear from him again, would agree to that. It’s a big reason so many of his fans were so disappointed and enraged when the rumors about him turned out to be true. He really is a repulsive sex-creep. He really is the sociopath he told us he was for all those years. It’s not just part of his act. He won so many people over with his talent that we thought we knew him, but we didn’t. So now we feel betrayed.

I know I do. I was a big Louis C.K. fan, and I was really angry at him when all those women came forward with their stories about him. And now that he’s trying to make a comeback, or at least trying to get his foot back in the door, it gives me a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Am I really ready to laugh along with this guy again? Can I pretend I don’t know what I know about him?

So I can understand why people were so upset when this audio of one of his recent stand-up shows leaked on the internet.

WARNING: Contains Louis C.K. material. If you know what that means, don’t act surprised. If you don’t know what that means, you probably shouldn’t click on this.

If you listened to any part of that, I don’t know what you think you heard, but what I heard was a typical Louis C.K. set. It’s horrible. It’s disgusting. It’s heartless and self-centered and cruel. That’s his brand. That’s how he became such an enormous success. This is what he does. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, a few years ago GQ put together a representative sample of his oeuvre.)

But now that he’s disgraced himself, everybody who used to cheer him on is pretending this new material is somehow different than his old material. They’re saying things like, “The Real Louis C.K. Is Finally Standing Up.” Well, no, stupid. The real Louis C.K. was standing up the whole time. The problem isn’t that he’s changed. The problem is that he hasn’t changed. He’s trying to go back to the way things were.

Maybe he can make a comeback, maybe he can’t. But as he makes his attempt, at least a bunch of other scummy creeps can feel better about themselves by condemning him. Like a former Harry Reid lackey named Adam Jentleson, who’s currently racking up a whole bunch of likes and RTs with this gem:

Oh. Okay.

Hey, quick question: What power does Louis C.K. have?

He lost every gig he had, over a year ago. Whatever power he had in show business — directing movies and producing TV shows and putting out one-hour stand-up specials whenever he felt like it — is gone. Possibly forever. Nobody’s inviting him to speak in front of Congress. Nobody’s inviting him on their TV shows. Nobody cares about his opinions on current events anymore. He’s playing Governor’s on Long Island. Do you want to know what that comedy club looks like? I looked it up on Google Maps:

That’s it. That’s his place of power. Basically a shack, next to a Dairy Queen in Levittown. That’s what you’re so scared of.

And yet now he’s supposedly “punching down” at the Parkland kids, who have cameras following them everywhere they go and whose every utterance is treated like oracular law. If you don’t think he should joke about them, that’s one thing. But he’s not “punching down” at anybody. He’s at the bottom of the barrel, by his own doing.

Louis C.K. can’t hurt the Parkland kids, or you, or anybody else. In order for him to “bully” anybody, they have to go online and seek out the audio of the weeks-old stand-up set an audience member leaked, presumably without his permission. He isn’t standing outside David Hogg’s house with a bullhorn.

You know who’s punching down? Guys like this are punching down:

Yeah, it’s almost as lazy and easy as a bunch of safe, comfortable comedians crapping on a former colleague so everybody else in their industry knows they still belong. They don’t want to end up like Louis, so they’re making sure we all know they’re woke now. “See, guys? I used to be friends with that guy, but not anymore. Don’t come after me next. I’m still one of the good ones!”

Feel free to hate Louis C.K. for what he’s done, and for his apparent unwillingness to deal with what he’s done. Feel free to keep your money in your pocket instead of spending it on him. But to imagine that he’s somehow hurting you or anybody else is just ridiculous.

Louis C.K. has lost everything. That seems fair to me. And now he’s trying to start all over again, which also seems fair to me. Nobody owes him movie roles or producer credits or any of the other stuff he lost in the space of a day. But if he can still find comedy clubs that want to book him, and people still want to go see him, how is that hurting you?

Taking shots at Louis C.K. in 2019 is punching down. It makes you the bully. If that’s who you are, go right ahead. And then project your own bullying behavior onto him. Feels good, doesn’t it? Feels righteous. You’re a good person. Sure.

Hooray for you. Wonderful, marvelous you.