As Louis C.K.’s world crumbled around him, comedians in my Facebook feed started posting: “No! Not Louis!” They were heartbroken by their hero’s downfall.
My response, on the other hand, was: “Anyone shocked by Louis C.K. being an douchebag obviously never worked with him.”
I spent a weekend with Louis in… Shit. I forget the exact year. It was probably 2005. Maybe 2004. 2003? Somewhere in there. It was before he was super-famous, but he was still a big name among comedians.
The date has been forgotten. His actions haven’t.
Stop reading now if you’re looking for anything salacious; what he did to female comedians is a billion times worse than how he acted toward me. The long and short of my story is that he was a prick. When I first saw him in the green room, I offered my hand and said, “Hi, I’m your opener.” He looked at my hand, looked at me as if I were an asshole for talking to him, rolled his eyes and turned away.
That was our only real interaction of the weekend; anything else we did was in passing and also involved him being unnecessarily rude. I thought about calling him out; asking, “What’s your problem?” but I knew I shouldn’t.
I had two choices: confront him, or let it go. If I challenged him, I ran the risk of him having me fired, and/or talking shit about me to other comics, club owners, and/or anyone else with power in the comedy world. If I let it go, chances were he wouldn’t remember my name five minutes later, and therefore wouldn’t tell anyone not to hire me. So I dealt with it, and let him spend the weekend acting like I didn’t exist. In my mind, it was better to be a ghost than to speak out for myself and damage my career.
After that weekend, I watched Louis become huge.
He got TV shows with his name on them, comedy specials, SNL hosting duties… and all the while, everyone in the comedy world was saying, “OMG, Louis is so amazing!” Then, through word-of-mouth, I began hearing about what he did to female comics. That made me angry. Angry, and confused.
If someone as small as me on the totem pole could know what Louis was like as a person, how did it escape those in power who helped elevate him? Were the people who kept giving him TV shows, specials, and SNL, enablers, or did they turn a blind eye and play ignorant? I don’t know, but I know that I never watched his specials or TV show after our weekend together.
I couldn’t separate the artist from his art.
His actions toward me tainted my perception of him. But that’s just me. “Can you separate the artist from their art?” is a personal question. It’s something to be answered by individuals. Right now, I know many people who say they don’t know if they’ll be able to listen to Louis’ comedy the same way ever again; they don’t know if they’ll be able to enjoy it.
I cannot speak to their questions; I can only examine my own hypocrisies. Roman Polanski, for instance. I’ve never understood Hollywood’s fetish for him. I’m confused by sheer volume of actors who want the charges against Polanski dropped, rescinded, or forgiven. Polanski is a pedophile. He raped a 13-year-old girl, and was never made to pay for his crime. He didn’t go to jail, he fled the country. I cannot understand how any actor in good conscience can work with him. Do they dismiss it with, “Oh, that was so long ago…” or “His victim has forgiven him”?
Is that all it takes with rape? Just wait it out?
From what we’ve been hearing lately involving sexual assault in Hollywood, “Just forget it happened” isn’t the best game plan.
Here’s where it gets hypocritical: I still love the movie Chinatown.
It’s a great fucking movie, made by rapist/pedophile Roman Polanski. It’s hard to reconcile the two truths in my mind: great movie, rapist/pedophile. I don’t watch any other Polanski films, which is my personal boycott. But do I like Chinatown because I first saw it before hearing about Polanski’s crimes? Is it because I cannot deny great art, even when the creator of said art is a monster? Or is it because Polanski never did anything to me personally, whereas I dismiss everything Louis has done because of a wounded ego?
I don’t know, and I hate the fact I have questions and not answers.
I do, however, know that if Louis C.K. hadn’t fallen from grace, I wouldn’t be writing this piece. I’d be remaining mum, and not drawing his ire in any way, shape, or form.
You should click the pic and buy my latest book.