Saturday Night Live‘s Michael Che decided it was time for him to speak on the career of disgraced comic Louis C.K. after C.K. held an unannounced Sunday night stand-up routine at New York’s Comedy Cellar.
As you recall, C.K. was shamed out of the public eye after five women, many of whom are female comics, were sexually harassed by C.K. when he masturbated in front of them. Not even a year later, C.K. is given a standing ovation at the Comedy Cellar even though some women have gone on record to Vulture to discuss how C.K. made a joke about a rape whistle (relating to his activity) and how the room felt unwelcoming to women who might feel uncomfortable having C.K. warmly welcomed back to the stage.
Che took to Instagram to give his opinions on C.K. coming back to the public eye. As captured by The New York Times culture writer Sopan Deb on Twitter, Che made fun of an article by The Atlantic writer Megan Garber titled, “Louis C.K. and the Men Who Keep Getting What They Want.”
SNL’s Michael Che has some thoughts about Louis C.K. returning to the stage: pic.twitter.com/bLlKS3UVmH
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) August 29, 2018
After conversing with others who pointed out the graphic nature of C.K.’s transgressions and how he has curbed women from pursuing their dreams of comedy because of his harassment, Che wrote another message equating C.K.’s situation to other celebrities who have taken their lives: “…my only point is just because it looks to you like someone is ‘getting off easy’ ’cause they still have the perks you would kill to have, doesn’t make it so. That’s all,” he wrote.
He also responded to a few people via DM; one message said, “Who’s to say what someone should be ‘allowed’ to get?” And another said, “Man, I don’t really know. I haven’t talked to him in a while. I don’t know any of his accusers. I don’t know what he’s done to right that situation, and it’s none of my business. But I do believe any free person has a right to speak and make a living.”
First of all, comparing another celebrity’s death to what C.K. is going through is a gross conflation. A star suffering from debilitating clinical depression, for instance, isn’t the same as a celebrity suffering concerning their heinous actions. C.K. has been out of the public eye for a good reason, but he hasn’t been thrown in jail, so it would appear to a lot of people that, indeed, he has gotten off easy.
It’s a shame Che wasn’t the only comic who decided it was time to stick up for other male comics. Michael Ian Black also released a poorly thought-out tweet, writing, “Will take heat for this, but people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives. I don’t know if it’s been long enough, or his career will recover, or if people will have him back, but I’m happy to see him try.” After being flogged online, he later issued an apology and wrote a longer article on his website, part of which states:
“This is not a defense of Louis. I will not defend him, and have no vested interest in his ability to reclaim his career or not. My interest is in having a nuanced conversation of what we do as a culture with men, like Louis who f**ked up. Do we think they are all irredeemable, disposable? For some people, the answer might very well be “yes.” If so, then the conversation is over. That’s OK.”
Other critics have spoken against C.K.’s impromptu set. Kathy Griffin, for instance, wrote a thread on Twitter, including the following:
“You know how many talented women and POC comics are knocking on doors trying to get some time in front of audiences or powerful people in this business? And Louis just gets to glide back in on his own terms? Gosh, it does pay off to be in the boys club…the white boys club…Louis just went on a long vacation and didn’t do anything to show that he has reformed/changed. He’s a multi-millionaire who finally got some sleep after working nonstop for years. This is how we are making people are paying penance in the #MeToo era?”
Che hasn’t released a public statement about his words regarding C.K., and one would expect he wouldn’t. But, at the very least, let’s hope Che doesn’t stoke the fires any more than he already has.