December 31st, 2018 – Louis C.K’s rebranding strategy has become pretty clear after audio from a recent set leaked revealing material mocking gender identity and the Parkland school shooting survivors. In past months, discussions of the timing and nature of his pop-up returns to the stage have been heatedly discussed, but the conversation has now shifted to the content of his new routines.
Reactions to the clip were swift and seemed to conjure up the same words over and over again: hacky, tired, and pandering. For a comic that was once seen as a defining voice on cultural conversations, many people felt that he made an obvious decision to fall back on easy schtick that would appeal to many conservative voices who think our world has gotten too soft.
The transcribed set, which was first shared by Mike Pearl on Twitter, is supposedly from a December 28th set at the Comedy Cellar. The date and location hasn’t officially been verified (some reports peg it from Governor’s Comedy Club in Levittown), but the Comedy Cellar has been C.K.’s go-to spot for testing out new material. His Cellar sets gained national attention in the latter half of 2018 as they were often unannounced.
In this current one, C.K. begins by lamenting the fact that he can’t scold young people in the way he had once hoped he could when he became an older man. He wants to yell at them for running around gettin’ into trouble the way his elders did to him. Unfortunately, these youngins are too woke.
“I’m so disappointed in the younger generation honestly because I’m 51 years old and when I was 18 and in my 20s we were idiots. We were getting high doing mushrooms and shit…I was kind of excited to be in my 50s and see people in my 20s and be like ‘You’re crazy. These kids are nuts,’ but they’re not!
They’re just boring. Fucking telling me you shouldn’t say that. What are you an old lady? They’re like royalty! They tell you what to call them. ‘You should address me…as they/them because I identify as gender neutral.’ Oh, OK. You should address me as ‘there’ because I identify as a location. And the location is your mother’s cunt.”
The full 48-minute recording has now been deleted from YouTube, but clips have again begun to circulate online. C.K. is heard detailing his hard year after having to admit that he masturbated in from of women for several years.
“Ever have an entire year that sucks? 365 suck cock days in a row?” he asked the crowd. “What are you going to do, take away my birthday? My life is over. I don’t give a shit.”
He went on sing the classics that comics once hit hoping they made them sound edgy: “retarded,” “fag,” and comparing penis sizes between black, white and Asian men.
And while some people found those topics more boring than offensive, C.K.’s dip into making fun of students who experienced a school shooting set off a lot of alarms.
“They testify in front of Congress these kids…What are you doing? You’re young you should be crazy, you should be unhinged. Not in a suit saying ‘I’m here to tell you…’ Fuck you…You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you? Why does that make you interesting. You didn’t get shot. You pushed some fat kid in the way and now I gotta listen to you talking.”
Some fans (possibly new ones) have responded on Twitter by saying they found the jokes funny and are also annoyed by having to address people by the names they feel most comfortable being called. Other people (possibly former fans) have called C.K. out for going for the lowest hanging fruit as well as going back on his former statement to take a step back and listen.
Louis CK, 2017: “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen”
Louis CK, 2018: pic.twitter.com/2qN1RrbgPH
This hacky, unfunny, shallow routine is just a symptom of how people are afraid to feel empathy. It’s much easier to laugh at our most vulnerable than to look at their pain directly & show them love and concern. Louis CK is all fear and bitterness now. He can’t look inward. https://t.co/aQVG0rk87y
It’s not about the subject matter. You can make jokes about any topic. You can explore things deeply. But people want to know your point. They want to know if your heart is in the right place. His new point is more a projection of his pain and bitterness than anything else. https://t.co/n2f712OKIw
What are your thoughts on Louis C.K.’s most recent jokes about gender identity and the Parkland survivors? Funny or Offensive? Do you see his style of comedy changing so he can pull in new fans or does this sound like a routine he would have done two years ago?