Louis C.K. is back in the news as a leaked stand-up set from a December 16 performance at Governor’s Comedy Club got passed around Twitter over the weekend. In the leaked audio recording, which has been ripped and re-uploaded multiple times, C.K. does material about gender non-binary people, school shootings, eating ice cream, and losing $35 million in a day.
As just about everyone knows, the once-beloved comedian has been performing somewhat regularly over the last four months, mostly dropping in unannounced at comedy clubs in New York City (as is custom by big name comedians). His appearances drew ire from many people who believe his return to stand-up is too soon since his 2017 admittance of workplace sexual harassment. Though the internet, and much of the comedy community, have been enraged by his repeated performances, audiences appear to have welcomed the disgraced comedian (although he has drawn a couple of protesters, a couple of walkouts, and a heckler).
The set runs just shy of 50 minutes and is mostly met with laughter from the live audience. As usual, he goes after sensitive subjects like he has for years. Though a few bits harken back to a more brilliant comic, much of the material is stale and disappointing, including frivolous use of a homophobic slur he once wielded with purpose. At times, it feels like he’s trying to poke the bear rather than point out that the bear is wearing a ridiculous hat.
Many took to Twitter to express their disdain for the jokes, which are technically unfinished. Comedy clubs are like open mics to stand-up comedians of C.K.’s stature. We at Laughspin will not be sharing a link to or embedding the audio, though it can be easily found online. We have no way to know if these jokes are a finished product, a riff that he’ll never say again, or a premise he’s exploring. Though C.K. has admitted to disgusting acts against female comedians, we believe that not sharing leaked stand-up is in line with our ethics. Audiences should not secretly record performances on their phones to upload to YouTube. Full stop.
Due to the nature of how jokes are written and crafted, it is not fair for us to judge comedy based on unfinished material. However, if this disgruntled old man routine is the direction he’s going, prepare to be underwhelmed should he release a special one day. There used to be a point to his edge, and now his edge just seems dull and sad.