Little more than a year after Louis C.K. admitted to engaging in sexual misconduct, the comedian has been recorded making new stand-up jokes mocking the use of gender-neutral pronouns and the Parkland shooting survivors.
Though C.K. stayed away from comedy for months following the revelations, promising to “step back and take a long time to listen,” he returned to stand-up in August with sets at the Comedy Cellar in New York City. On Sunday, amateur audio surfaced on YouTube of C.K. performing new jokes, described as a recording of a Dec. 16 set delivered at the Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown, N.Y.
In the leaked audio, the 51-year-old C.K. compares his own experience as a youngster (“getting high, doing f—ing mushrooms and s—”) to the current generation of youth, who he apparently sees as entitled and obnoxious. A two-minute segment of the set posted to Twitter by Twitch host Jack Allison found C.K. particularly angry at younger trans and non-binary people for using they/them pronouns, and at the youthful survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., for engaging in anti-gun activism and politics.
“They’re just boring! Telling you, ‘you shouldn’t say that.’ What are you, an old lady? What the f— are you doing? ‘That’s not appropriate.’ F— you, you’re a child! Why aren’t you finger-f—ing each other and doing Jello shots?” C.K. can be heard joking. “They’re like royalty, telling you how to address them. ‘You should address me as they/them because I identify as gender-neutral.’ Okay. You should address me as ‘there’ because I identify as a location, and the location is your mother’s c—.”
Turning his attention to Parkland survivors, C.K. continued, “They testified in front of Congress, these kids! What the f—? What are they doing? You’re young! You should be crazy, not in a suit saying, ‘I’m here to tell you…’ F— you! You’re not interesting because you went to a school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you? How does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot, you pushed some fat kid in the way, and now I gotta listen to you talking?”
Loud audience laughter can be heard throughout the clip. In his post, Allison compared C.K.’s new material to that of disgraced right-wing internet provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who got permanently banned from Twitter in 2016 after inciting racist attacks against comedian Leslie Jones. “I mean he’s like a [right-wing] comic now. He’s Milo,” Allison wrote.
This is far from the first time C.K. has made jokes out of insisting on using offensive terms even after marginalized people publicly plead against it. His 2008 stand-up special Chewed Up included an infamous bit about why C.K. still liked calling people “faggot” despite it being a homophobic slur. An early episode of C.K.’s FX show Louie featured comedian Rick Crom gently explaining the word’s roots in the history of anti-gay violence, and getting chided for it.
More recently, a 2011 video resurfaced online that featured C.K., Chris Rock, and Ricky Gervais discussing the n-word. In the clip, C.K. repeatedly used the n-word and defended his right to say it, with Rock’s blessing, while Jerry Seinfeld looked visibly uncomfortable.
The New York Times article in which five different women accused C.K. of sexual misconduct (allegations which he subsequently confirmed) was published in early November 2017, just a month after sexual harassment allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein ignited the #MeToo movement. Since #MeToo began, people have debated whether disgraced celebrity abusers should be allowed back into the public sphere. Michael Ian Black defended C.K.’s return to stand-up in August, tweeting “people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives.”
Tig Notaro, though, had a different perspective in her most recent interview with EW. A former collaborator of C.K.’s whose career took a big bump when he publicized her 2012 stand-up set Live, Notaro nevertheless has no patience for him and other comedians and celebrities accused of sexual abuse, preferring to defend their victims instead. This past May, Notaro told EW, “I’m just astounded by how people are still focused on these abusive people, when the focus should really be on the people they abused. People’s lives have been destroyed by these abusive, power-hungry people…And as far as chances go, they had numerous chances. They exposed themselves, they masturbated, they came on to people aggressively against their will over and over. They did it once, then they did it again, and then they did it again. Those are chances. You have a chance to correct yourself. Anyway, I just don’t understand. I don’t get it.”
Reps for C.K. have not responded to EW’s request for comment.