Louis CK keeps chugging along on his “comeback” tour and you might remember that the reported material so far has included jokes about his sexual misconduct allegations, the Parkland students, and gender pronouns. It’s cranky, low-hanging fruit material for any comedian.
But it seems CK is upset that his comeback material is making its way to the press, because comedy clubs he books are now sharing a copyright notice with attendees to make sure they absolutely do not redistribute or reproduce any of the material. IndieWire reports on one such notice from the Acme comedy club in Minneapolis, which not only tells ticket buyers that their phones will be put into Yondr pouches (which blocks phones from filming or recording during performances) but also includes this notice:
Louis CK owns all rights in the content and materials, including any jokes and sketches (the “Materials”), delivered during his performance. The Materials may not be copied, translated, transmitted, displayed, distributed, or reproduced verbatim (the “Use”), in whole or in part, in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, without the express prior written consent of Louis CK. Any Use of the Materials without the express prior written consent of Louis CK is strictly prohibited and shall be subject to all available legal remedies, whether in equity or at law at the cost of anyone who violates this prohibition.
Additionally, the site lists the set as “Louis CK is trying new material. XXX Adults only.”
The move to curb jokes from being redistributed calls to mind Aziz Ansari, whose new material has also been reported in the press. After Vulture published a rundown of a new set of his last year, the post was mysteriously scrubbed of the jokes and included the line “We don’t want to give away the guy’s whole set, so it has since been removed.”
Men like Ansari and CK have had an easier time making a “comeback” largely because many comedy clubs have been so welcoming and are eager to put restrictions in place on audiences to make disgraced comedians feel safer. But putting these limitations on comedy audiences is ridiculous. Comedians, no matter how famous, try out new material all the time in front of live audiences and sometimes those jokes make their way to social media or the press. If you are, let’s say, a comedian who has been accused of sexual misconduct quite publicly and then choose to joke about those things in your set, then all of that is fair game to report on and repeat. What exactly is to be spoiled in a Louis CK set? Boring jokes about young people and their gender pronouns; the kind of take that originates from the worst corners of right wing social media? You can get that for free!
The irony here is that Louis CK suddenly cares about consent, but only when it comes to his precious material. Enacting mini-NDAs of sorts on his paying fans is a gross abuse of power for someone already accused of grossly abusing his power in more insidious ways.