What life is like for Louis C.K. now

In November 2017, The New York Times published a bombshell story revealing a longtime secret of the comedy world: Women, many of whom worked with Louis C.K., came forward with allegations that the comedian committed numerous instances of sexual misconduct against them by masturbating in their presence. The women also alleged the Louie star and his manager, Dave Becky, deliberately silenced C.K.'s accusers. (Becky denied covering up sexual misconduct, however, and says he only covered for C.K.'s acts of infidelity while he was married and in relationships.)

C.K. then released a statement admitting that the allegations were true. "The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly," he wrote, in part. "…There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with … The hardest regret to live with is what you've done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them." It's been a year since C.K. became a predator outed by the #MeToo movement. Let's find out what life is like for him now.

He's attempting a standup comedy comeback

In late August 2018, Louis C.K. made his first series of unannounced comeback performances in New York. He started with a set at one of the Governor's Comedy Clubs, where TMZ reports he performed with a notepad and received a standing ovation. After performing for between 10 and 15 minutes, C.K. headed into Manhattan, where he did a surprise drop-in set at Greenwich Village staple the Comedy Cellar (which was featured prominently on Louie). While some reports say C.K.'s Comedy Cellar performance was generally well-received, not all audience members were happy to see him. An audience member told Vulture that the comic told an "uncomfortable" joke about "rape whistles" being unclean. 

Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman told The Hollywood Reporter the rest of C.K.'s set was "plain, everyday Louis C.K. stuff." One thing C.K. didn't address was his sexual misconduct scandal, which Dworman acknowledged was "a missed opportunity." Other New York City comedy club owners and staff told TMZ that they'd welcome C.K. back with open arms, perhaps at least in part because of the slew of press they'd receive when he set foot on their stages.

Audiences have mixed reactions to his return

Let's dig a little deeper into those audience reactions to Louis C.K.'s Comedy Cellar comeback. Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman told The Hollywood Reporter that while C.K. received "a real ovation" for his performance, Dworman received an email complaining about the unannounced return of the serial sexual harasser, with the sender saying he felt "ambushed." That audience member was reportedly male.

Some female audience members told Vulture that they were uncomfortable with C.K.'s surprise appearance. "It was an all-male set to begin with. Then, it's sort of exacerbated by [C.K.'s] presence," one audience member explained. "If someone had heckled him, I think they would've been heckled out. It felt like there were a lot of aggressive men in the audience and very quiet women. It's the kind of vibe that doesn't allow for a dissenting voice. You're just expected to be a good audience member. You're considered a bad sport if you speak out."

As recently as late October 2018, Page Six reported that a handful of protesters had descended on C.K.'s subsequent performances at the Comedy Cellar, but earlier that month, The Hollywood Reporter obtained audio of a crowd welcoming C.K. to the Cellar with cheers.

Some comedians defended his comeback

Some comedians have welcomed Louis C.K.'s comedy return. Marlon Wayans told TMZ that he felt C.K. had served his time in "comedy jail." Chris Rock reportedly showed his support at an October 2018 performance as well. Norm Macdonald told The Hollywood Reporter that he sympathized with C.K. for "losing everything in a day," but later backpedaled and tweeted that he'd never defend C.K.'s actions. Jimmy Kimmel told The Hollywood Reporter that he believes audiences should decide whether C.K. gets to perform again, adding, "If we get into the business of sanitizing every comedian and doing a thorough background check before they walk through the door, it's going to be a very empty stage."

Saturday Night Live star Michael Che took it a step further and criticized C.K.'s critics, writing on Instagram (via Deadline), "A lot of what I read says that CK shouldn't get to be a 'famous' comedian anymore. Because to them, he's still winning. Isn't that strange? Meaning he can be shamed, humiliated, lose millions of dollars, lose all of his projects, lose the respect of a lot of his fans and peers … but since he can still do a comedy set for free at a 200-seat club a year later, it means he got off easy … I do believe any free person has a right to speak and make a living."

Other comics called him out

Not all comedians are rolling out the welcome wagon for Louis C.K. Joyelle Nicole, who regularly performs at the Comedy Cellar, expressed a "subtle discomfort" at his return, telling The Huffington Post, "I feel like the thing that people are upset about … is if you guys let him get onstage, it means you do not think what he did was that bad."

Laurie Kilmartin wrote a poignant editorial for The New York Times about how sexual harassment hurts women in comedy and shrinks their chances at success, while comics Elayne Boosler, Aparna Nancherla, Paul F. Tompkins, Andy Richter, and Andy Kindler all expressed disgust on Twitter. Adam Ruins Everything host Adam Conover tweeted, "The organizations and industry figures that knowingly enabled and protected Louis C.K. while he abused fellow comedians must be held to account … Those of us who possess influence have the ability and responsibility to see that they are."

Ian Karmel, head writer for The Late Late Show, has refused to perform at any clubs that also employ C.K., while Kathy Griffin tweeted, "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, does it payoff to be in … the white boys club."

He inspired an entire set for Ted Alexandro

Perhaps no one called C.K. out louder than comedian Ted Alexandro, who delivered a scathing set about the scandal at the Comedy Cellar. Famous among comedy circles for his progressive leanings, Alexandro began with the following bit: "Do I have to take my d**k out? What do I have to do for you to cheer my arrival at the stage? Ask yourselves that. You know where you are, don't you?" Later he quipped, "What's with this PC culture? It's suffocating, right? Do you want to live in a world where a man can't politely ask a colleague if he can take off all his clothes and masturbate to completion? Is that where we are as a culture?"

Alexandro, who told Vulture that before the scandal he considered C.K. a friend, wryly told the crowd, "Why can't we just let Louie go back to writing jokes about how men are the greatest threat to the safety of women? But he doesn't just write jokes — he walks the walk! And I think that is to be commended. He's a performance artist."

He may return to Netflix

In November 2017, almost immediately after Louis C.K. confessed to sexual misconduct, Netflix yanked him from its lineup, Deadline reported. "The allegations made by several women in The New York Times about Louis C.K.'s behavior are disturbing," the streaming service said at the time. "Louis's unprofessional and inappropriate behavior with female colleagues has led us to decide not to produce a second stand up special, as had been planned." C.K. specials that were already on Netflix remained on the platform.

As of September 2018, after C.K. began his comeback attempt, Netflix would not confirm or deny to The New York Times if it would consider additional C.K. content in the future. 

Sarah Silverman threw herself under the bus for him

Sarah Silverman, a longtime friend of Louis C.K., opened up about his sexual misconduct on her Hulu series I Love You, America in November 2017, expressing anger for C.K.'s victims and sadness because he was her friend. She later told the Daily Beast that C.K.'s daughters watched her monologue, and it reportedly helped them process the situation. 

In October 2018, Silverman admitted that C.K. masturbated in front of her, but said the dynamic was different because she was his professional peer. "It's not analogous to the other women in this that are talking about what he did to them," she told Howard Stern (via People). "He could offer me nothing. We were only just friends." That comment angered C.K. accuser Rebecca Corry, who tweeted to Silverman, "To be real clear, CK had 'nothing to offer me' as I too was his equal on the set the day he decided to sexually harass me … He's a predator who victimized women for decades and lied about it." Silverman replied, "Rebecca I'm sorry. Ugh this is why I don't like weighing in. I can't seem to do press 4 my show w/out being asked about it. But you're right- you were equals and he f**ked with you and it's not ok."

He has an edgy new girlfriend

In November 2018, Louis C.K. performed a long set in Paris, where he confirmed he's dating French comedian Blanche Gardin, according to The Hollywood Reporter. C.K. had been photographed with Gardin a month earlier. The Hollywood Reporter notes that C.K. told the crowd, "I've been dating this woman, and she's French … any s***ty American is welcome [in France]."

Gardin is no stranger to controversy herself, especially in the context of C.K.'s sexual misconduct. At the César Awards in March 2018, Gardin wore a pin with C.K.'s face on it during a sketch about sexual assault and harassment in show business, telling the audience (via The Connexion), "From now on, it's clear, producers are not allowed to rape actresses. [But] what is not clear, is — do we, women, have the right to continue to sleep [with men] for roles? Because if not, well — we will have to learn our lines and go to auditions, and we don't have the time, frankly."

He may be forgetting who the actual victims were

Louis C.K. admitted to his behavior, but as far as addressing it on stage, well, he may have a long way to go. In his comeback sets, he has merely alluded to his own misconduct while discussing the aftermath. According to The Hollywood Reporter, C.K. said in his November 2018 performance in Paris that he had "a lot of trouble in the PR department" and "lost $35 million in an hour."

Meanwhile, his actual victims still face hardships since coming forward about his sexual misconduct. In May 2018, Rebecca Corry, one of the women who spoke to The New York Times about C.K.'s masturbation habit, wrote an essay for Vulture detailing the fallout from the story. Corry included harrowing screenshots of insults and death threats she'd received since coming forward, fuming, "Now I'm being asked if I think C.K. will make a 'comeback.' The idea that C.K. reentering the public eye would ever be considered a 'comeback' story is disturbing. The guy exploited his position of power to abuse women. A 'comeback' implies he's the underdog and victim, and he is neither," she wrote. "…The only issue that matters is whether he will choose to stop abusing women."

Erasing his memory

After Louis C.K.'s sexual misconduct was exposed to the world in November 2017, Deadline reported that Pamela Adlon, who worked with C.K. on her FX series Better Things, immediately fired their shared manager, Dave Becky; FX dropped C.K. from all projects on the network. In January 2018, Variety reported that Adlon would keep Better Things going without any future involvement from C.K. One Mississippi, on which C.K. was credited as an executive producer, will also continue without him, which show creator and star Tig Notaro told The View was "a huge relief." Notaro was also a vocal critic of C.K.'s behavior long before his masturbation admission went public.

One project that may never see the light of day is C.K.'s I Love You, Daddy, which was scheduled to premiere the same week that The New York Times bombshell was published. Entertainment Weekly reported in December 2017 that C.K. bought the film back from its distributor, The Orchard. The movie made waves before his scandal was exposed due to the script's use of the N-word and jokes about child rape. The Washington Post reported that the film also contained a scene reminiscent to one of the allegations against C.K. Two of the film's stars, Charlie Day and Chloe Grace Moretz, each told the Los Angeles Times that they refused to promote the movie once they learned of C.K.'s conduct.