When, a year after admitting that he had masturbated in front of non-consenting women, Louis CK gave a surprise performance at the Comedy Cellar he posed a challenge to some of the more uneasy members of the audience.
“Fuck it. What, are you going to take away my birthday?” CK told the crowd, briefly interrupting a set filled with racist jokes about Asian and Black men. “My life is over, I don’t give a shit. You can be offended, it’s okay. You can get mad at me. Anyway. So why do black guys have big dicks? Let’s talk about that for a minute.”
As Anna Merlan wrote for Jezebel at the time, CK’s message was clear: He felt he’d been punished enough; he was no longer going to play the role of “cancelled” male celebrity. He would not feign remorse and he would go back to what he was doing before. As long as he could book comedy gigs, there was little reason to behave otherwise.
This same attitude was on display on Friday night, when CK performed to a packed crowd at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater on Friday. When CK took the stage, the word “SORRY” appeared illuminated behind him. The audience, according to the Daily Beast, gave him a standing ovation.
His material bore a close resemblance to the stuff he trotted out at the Comedy Cellar. Per the Daily Beast, the set featured:
“Child fucker” jokes that include a very involved journey about being in possession of a little girl’s underwear, more pedophilia jokes with an emphasis on the Boy Scouts of America, COVID-19 jokes, jokes about staring into the human asshole, 9/11 jokes, gay jokes, Jew jokes, cancer jokes, a heavy helping of transgender jokes, and a sprinkling of additional race jokes. And tons of sex.
There was no mention of the sexual harassment allegations against him. And so, of course, CK is not very “sorry” at all—the sign is an invitation for his adoring audience to laugh at the fact that people would even expect him to say sorry. The sign is another version of the shrug emoticon: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Friday night’s stand-up was the kickoff to CK’s nationwide comeback tour, which has CK performing in 30 U.S. cities between now and December. His jokes—once wry and charmingly self-deprecating—are likely to only get cruder and crueler. Now that CK has decided he doesn’t care about what people say about him or how he makes people feel, he’s free to indulge the darkest parts of himself, which were probably there, just under the surface, all along.