The shortest distance between two points is the time it took for Louis C.K.’s abrupt first steps toward a comeback to find male defenders in the comedy world.
Indeed, a lot of Twitterers may have found out about the comedian’s surprise set–his first since admitting to long-rumored (and long-denied) charges of sexual harassment–thanks to a widely circulated tweet from Michael Ian Black explaining that Louis C.K. should be able to serve his time and “move on.”
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. https://t.co/QmqdGJnIjy
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) August 28, 2018
Fans of Black’s work in The State, Stella, and movies like Wet Hot American Summer may be used to being let down by him. That’s what happens when your comedic journey takes you to co-authoring a book with Meghan McCain. However, even with his “will take heat for this” disclaimer, Black likely did not sense the degree to which he’d be letting people down with his tweet. Unlike Michael Che, the perpetual contrarian who also quickly defended Louis C.K. on Tuesday, Black presents as a male ally, and seemed an unlikely candidate for “sexual harassment apologist.” Regardless of how nuanced he may have thought his defense of Louis C.K. was, the fact that his first thought was to celebrate the comic’s return to the stage says more about him than any of his subsequent apologies ever could.
But prominent men in the comedy world don’t have to come to Louis C.K.’s defense the way Black did in order to chip away at the #MeToo movement. All they have to do is remain silent, which plenty of them did.
We sound like harpies screaming into the wind.
We are without a single friend in this today.
Please. Please help.
We absolutely cannot change the narrative. We tried to do it alone. Look what happened.
You can change the narrative.
— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) August 28, 2018
Because women in comedy are (reasonably) more expected to denounce Louis C.K.–out of a perceived high sensitivity to sexual harassment, or out of gender solidarity–it’s easier for C.K.’s sympathizers to write them off. That’s exactly why it’s so important that male comedians speak up right now, especially the ones whose fan bases overlap with Louis C.K.’s. If the male comedy fan who is completely untroubled by what C.K. admitted to doing–literally multiple sexual crimes–sees that a male comedian he loves has a problem with it, there’s at least a chance he’ll think about the situation more critically. It may be an uncomfortable subject to broach, and it may cost some fans, but allyship that’s most difficult is often the kind that’s most important.
On Tuesday, Fast Company published a list of 51 comedians who haven’t forced women to watch them masturbate. Keen readers may have noticed the list was completely devoid of straight white men. Below, however, is another list. Have a look at 25 men in the comedy world who have spoken out on Twitter (sometimes with jokes, sometimes not) against Louis C.K. While doing so is not exactly heroic–women had the shitty task of having to denounce Louis C.K. before he admitted what he did–it’s still something to appreciate.
The fact that Louis, a comedian whose whole thing is plumbing the depths of his own psyche, apparently didn’t mention his most recent, famous news in his surprise set tells you all you need to know about his desire for “redemption,” right?
— Paul F. Tompkins (@PFTompkins) August 28, 2018
Louis CK being "banished" from stand-up comedy wasn't some kind of petty punishment, it was a fucking workplace safety issue.
— Bris Farley (@IanKarmel) August 28, 2018
Sincerely want to thank Louis CK for not taking his dick out and jerking off on stage or backstage. Im sure it took a lot of restraint. Congrats hero.
— Dave Anthony, Patriot, Plastic Sword Owner (@daveanthony) August 28, 2018
Hey dudes If I worked at Enterprise Rent a Car and found out my co-worker Gary was jerking off at other coworkers and then he tried to walk back through the front door less than a year later I’d be like “get out of my Entrrprise you fucking weirdo.”
— Julian McCullough (@julezmac) August 28, 2018
Imagine being the MC the other night… “you know him from his many late night talk show appearances, the star of his own show & not even a year ago admitted to sexual misconduct… put your hands together and make some noise for…“
— Jimmy Pardo (@jimmypardo) August 28, 2018
— Guy Branum (@guybranum) August 28, 2018
Remember episode 1 of Better Call Saul where Saul is forced to work at Cinnabon under a new name, twitching and afraid, going home to watch his old commercials with pathetic reverence? That's better than Louis CK deserves. Get the fuck offstage.
— Dan Telfer (@dantelfer) August 28, 2018
— Yassir Lester (@Yassir_Lester) August 28, 2018
I’ve spent my whole life in NY and I’ve never once went to the Comedy Cellar where’s my Emmy
— billy eichner (@billyeichner) August 28, 2018
“There’s nothing he could do & no apology he could make that would be enough for you” is a pretty chickenshit way to say you don’t think he did anything wrong
— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) August 28, 2018
If I'm backstage in a comedy club where it's all male comedians and one of them goes "I mean, can you believe what they're doing to Louis?" I will literally start jacking off and staring at him.
— Matt Braunger (@Braunger) August 28, 2018
Ah yes, I'm sure sitting around being obscenely rich for slightly less than a year sure has taught him a lesson https://t.co/uel4Q1xVc1
— Eli Yudin (@eliyudin) August 28, 2018
As a straight white man that performs comedy just often enough that I can call myself a comic without completely cringing, I have some thoughts pic.twitter.com/kfnmrchAdk
— Sam Grittner (@SamGrittner) August 28, 2018
I can’t wait for the Louis CK/TJ Miller coheadlining “We’re only as sorry as you’ll ask us to be to get our jobs back” tour.
— mike mulloy (@fakemikemulloy) August 28, 2018
MICHAEL IAN BLACK: it is time to give the subway masturbator a metrocard again. we must let the subway commuters decide whether or not they want to welcome back the masturbator
— Bob Vulfov (@bobvulfov) August 28, 2018
You know who's not getting enough shit today? The audience that applauded him.
— Jay Welch (@welchjay) August 28, 2018
Still sort of curious what a Louis CK set is like when he can't talk about masturbating.
— Zach Broussard (@ZachBroussard) August 28, 2018
Are women who were driven out of comedy by having a co-worker assault them getting spots anywhere?
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) August 28, 2018
Some of these men stepped out of the way and put the focus on supporting women who were speaking out, but letting their fans know where they stand at the same time.
Summer Anne wrote some smart thoughts here, and I appreciate them. https://t.co/7KevPjOD0Y
— Josh Gondelman (@joshgondelman) August 28, 2018
— Greg Proops (@GregProops) August 28, 2018
This is a really good idea https://t.co/dFcFx2d1mT
— Le Eriq (@ericdadourian) August 28, 2018
Some of the men in comedy speaking out aren’t standup comedians, but rather comedy writers. Although they don’t necessarily run the risk of encountering Louis C.K. as he does a drop-in at a show they’re booked on, their support is equally necessary.
Will take heat for this, but people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives. BILL COSBY INNOCENT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
— jack allison (@jackallisonLOL) August 28, 2018
My concern is that, if Louis CK isn't welcomed back on stage, it could start a chain of events where we can't see Woody Allen play the clarinet.
— John Levenstein (@johnlevenstein) August 28, 2018
among the many problems w/ the push to welcome Louis CK back is the idea he’s owned up to what he did. he acknowledged he did the things in the NYT article… he HASN’T acknowledged the fifteen years he & his team spent lying, story-killing and (in at least one case) intimidating
— Owen Ellickson (@onlxn) August 28, 2018
Finally, some popular comedy Twitter accounts run by men weighed in as well.
louis ck was always a drier, shittier dave attell. never understood why people went nuts for him. i couldnt get through an episode of his depressing tv show. also he gets off on non consensually interfering with women sexually. if he went on stage i would throw heavy shit at him
— BAKOON (@BAKKOOONN) August 28, 2018
Ah damn, I checked and there’s no standup comedians except for the masturbating guy, I guess we need the masturbating guy back
— beloved comedy institution “the pixelated boat” (@pixelatedboat) August 28, 2018
Obviously–or at least, hopefully–this list is incomplete. Please tweet at Fast Company with other men in comedy speaking out against Louis C.K., and we’ll add them to a separate section of the list, below.