These Comedians Are Defending Louis C.K. as He Returns to Stand-Up

Michael Ian Black

Michael Ian Black | Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Less than one year after admitting to having committed sexual misconduct, Louis C.K. returned to the stage for a surprise stand-up performance on Sunday. Although this mainly received negative reactions online, some comedians have come out to defend C.K. and welcome him back.

The first to do so was Michael Ian Black, who recently posted on Twitter, “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.”

Black certainly did take a lot of heat for this statement to the point that he actually became a trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday. In subsequent tweets, Black said that he is not going to “defend what [C.K.] did” or say what his punishment should be but that “we’re in uncharted waters and we need to figure out how to move forward.”

In another tweet, Black argued, “The # movement is incredibly powerful and important and vital. One next step, among many steps, has to be figuring out a way for the men who are caught up in it to find redemption.” This tweet received an even worse reaction than the first one, earning far more replies than likes or retweets.

Black continued to defend himself throughout the day, later putting up a post on his website reiterating these points and saying that men who make mistakes should be allowed to return from exile.

Critics of Black’s comments would argue that even if C.K. “deserves” a second chance, it would be contingent upon him showing any signs of having changed at all. Instead, C.K. simply released an apology, laid low for nine months, and then returned as if nothing happened, going up on stage as a surprise without even letting audience members decide whether they might want to see or support him.

Dana Schwartz argues in a piece for Entertainment Weekly, “The process of returning to work will be unique for each individual, and every member of the community will have a different level of tolerance for when they’ll be willing to see him in the public eye again. And yet, for no one can the answer to the question ‘What should these individuals do in order to redeem themselves?’ be ‘Just wait a few months.'”

Black would later apologize for his statements, tweeting, “I’ve spent the day unpacking my feelings on this and finally came to the conclusion that I was wrong and I apologize for being wrong. My heart intended something my head could not provide and I made a mess.”

Michael Che

Michael Che | Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

But there’s another comedian who has come out to defend C.K. and has not apologized for doing so: Saturday Night Live‘s Michael Che. In a series of Instagram stories, Che sarcastically asked himself the rhetorical question posed by a made-up person named Megan, “OMG! Can you believe that guy went on with his life?” To that, he responded, “Yes, Megan. I can.”

Che also wrote, “What’s interesting to me about these articles against Louis CK performing again, is how important fame is to people. 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?”

When one of Che’s followers asked him what he thinks C.K. deserves, exactly, Che said, “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.”

The comedy community, in general, has certainly not been totally supportive of C.K.’s comeback, though. Some comedians who have criticized his return this week include Paul F. TompkinsSarah LazarusAparna Nancherla, Kathy Griffin, and Judd Apatow. It remains to be seen what C.K.’s next step is and whether he will be able to demonstrate that he has changed as a result of the scandal.