Culture News

Louis CK Exposed Himself On Stage and It Wasn’t Very Funny

Louis CK's new set wasn't just offensive. It was straight up bad comedy.

Clip From Louis C.K.'s New Special


Comedy is subjective.

Some people enjoy Patton Oswalt, some prefer Jeff Foxworthy, and maybe one person somewhere out there liked Carlos Mencia at some point. But for a long time, many comedy fans could agree that Louis CK was one of the best living comedians on the circuit.

Pre-masturbation scandal, Louis CK's comedy was unparalleled. His sets were expertly timed with thematic through-lines and numerous callbacks. His character - a self-deprecating, bitter but ultimately good-natured middle-aged man - was funny and relatable to a wide demographic. And sure, oftentimes his comedy was offensive, but Louis CK had an incredible knack for imbuing even his edgiest jokes with genuine empathy.

That's why his newest set, performed on December 16th at the Governor's Comedy Club in Long Island, was so surprising. It's not that it was offensive; it's that the entire set was garbage, neither well-crafted nor particularly interesting. It was simply an angry old man making hacky jokes and yelling about how millennials ruined his life.

Standout bits included:

-Suggesting nobody should care what the Parkland survivors have to say because they didn't even get shot

"Testify in front of Congress, these kids, what the fuck? What are you doing? Cause 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?"

This is the one that's making all the headlines. And while it's certainly offensive, and definitely too soon, it's mainly just a really bad joke. If you think the notion of people surviving school shootings by pushing fat kids in the way is funny, you might be a 12-year-old kid. Except probably not, because real 12-year-olds go through school shooting drills and understand that dying in their classroom is an actual possibility, and the best course of action is to barricade rooms. Not "pushing fat kids." The entire joke hinges on the premise that you'll find the idea of a fat kid getting shot to be funny. Ha ha ha! It also suggests that Louis CK has more perspective on the realities of gun violence than a bunch of kids who recently watched their friends get slaughtered in front of them. Hate to break it to you Louie but no, you don't.

-Complaining about having a bad year

"You ever have a whole bad year? You ever have an entire year that sucks - 365 shit cunt days in a row? I mean fuck. You ever have a time that's so shitty it starts to get funny? Like you just don't fucking - after a while you're like fuck. At first you're like ohhh. Then you're like Jesus. Like I lost so much fucking money in a day."

Amazingly, Louis CK managed to avoid any potential introspection in this bit, focusing entirely on the fact that he's had a bad time and lost a lot of money. It comes off as a "poor me" rant, which isn't a great look for a dude who non-consensually jerked off in front of a bunch of young women whose careers he had the power to destroy. Poor Louie, definitely the victim here.

-Ridiculing people who use different gender pronouns

"They're like royalty, telling you how to address them. 'You should address me as they/them because I identify as gender-neutral.' Okay. You should address me as 'there' because I identify as a location and the location is your mother's cunt."

Hey, did you know that non-binary people sometimes ask to be called by different pronouns that make them feel more comfortable in basic interactions? Isn't that weird and strange? Isn't revising pronouns a huge burden on you? Louis CK certainly thinks so. The alt-right and your 80-year-old uncle who has never met a non-binary person in his life would probably agree. The rest of us are way past this.

-A long screed about the penis sizes of various ethnicities, culminating in the assertion that Asian men are actually women

"You know why Asian men have small dicks? 'Cause they're women. They're not dudes. They're all women. All Asians are women. And they have big clits, really big clits, and when they have sex they just stick their clits in each other's pussies and then they procreate using math."

This joke was particularly original, because very few comedians have ever tackled the relationship between penis size and race before. Black people really do have big penises! And Asian men are feminine and not masculine and have vaginas because Asian penises are so small! And Asians love math! Wow, so true! If you really analyze this joke, you'll see that it's funny because blatant racism is apparently hilarious. Old school Louis CK might have pushed this joke even further to ultimately parody the inherent racism at play. Current Louis CK is content with making racist statements and calling them jokes.

-A story about pranking his friend with gay sex

"So I put lipstick up my asshole. And then I say to my friend 'you want to fuck me up the ass?' And he's like 'yeah okay.' He's drunk. All drunk men are gay. So he fucked me up the ass. And then he went home and his wife sees lipstick on his dick and he's got nothing to say. I enjoyed that prank so much."

During the entire recording, one particular audience member is going nuts for Louis CK. He's howling, laughing like a maniac at every joke. At the end of this one, which he loved, he audibly says, "Fucking f*ggot!" This was a particularly enlightening moment of the set because it clearly answers the question that is bound to pop up over and over again if you were a former Louis CK fan listening to his new stuff: "Who is Louis CK trying to appeal to?" The answer is this guy - a dude who hears an overlong, rambling joke about a man convincing his drunk, straight friend to have sex, finds that super hilarious, and audibly says, "fucking f*ggot."

Throughout the entire laughless 50 minute set, a single joke stood out as being in-line with the old Louie - a bit about how his daughter told him she thought comedians were pointless. He rebuts that the only interesting thing about her is that her dad is a comedian. Louis CK's best jokes have always been ones like these, biting, real, and personal. It was almost depressing hearing one like this buried in a set that would have felt at home on Ben Shapiro's podcast.

The worst part is that, considering this is Louis CK's supposed comeback attempt, it could have been great. He could have been introspective, truthfully analyzing how and why he got into the situation he did, mining the darkest parts of himself for the sort of self-deprecating humor he's always been known for. He could have torn himself apart for raw comedy gold. Given his recent status as a sexual deviant and social pariah, he was in a unique position to do exactly that. Instead he punched down, played victim, and pandered to the worst elements of his fanbase. The only running theme was meanness and vitriol.

Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at

POP⚡DUST |

Popdust Presents | Fly By Midnight & Carly Paige Embody True Millennial Culture

PREMIERE | 'Giants,' From Leah Capelle

INTERVIEWS | Pop Noir Dishes About Creativity

Film Reviews

Yes, Pete Davidson Talks About Ariana Grande in His New Netflix Special

In Pete Davidson: Alive From New York, the SNL cast member handles controversial topics well...for the most part.


Since diving into the world of stand-up as a teenager, Pete Davidson's comedy has often hinged on touchy subject matter.

Keep ReadingShow less
Culture Feature

Why We Shouldn’t Cancel Cancel Culture: We Need Transformative Justice

To cancel cancel culture—and to write off the impulses that motivate it—would be to miss a valuable chance to learn.

Photo by Markus Winkler (Unsplash)

Kanye West is canceled.

Keep ReadingShow less
Frontpage Popular News

THE REAL REEL | Sarah Silverman Loves America, But How Does America Feel?

Pornography, Progressives, and Pushing Party Lines

Does America Love Sarah Silverman Back?

Sarah Silverman's 'I Love You America' confuses Liberals and challenges conservatives…in a good way. Silverman certainly fills a giant "female" hole (Sarah would appreciate the pun) in late night talk shows since the departure of Chelsea Handler. Now that Handler is gone Silverman is the last woman standing with respect to late night streaming talk shows and aside from Samantha Bee, is one of the few females left, occupying late night talk shows. Sarah makes sure she states the obvious in the sense that she knows she is Jewish liberal woman and she realizes both conservatives and liberals may find some of her humor hard to swallow (again, that one's for you Sarah). She calms her audience by having a sidekick she calls Mathers (AKA, the white man at the desk) and asks the camera to pan over to him every time she talks about something she knows might be uncomfortable for her audience.

So for instance, when she shows fully naked audience members, discusses pornography or wax poetic on her really detailed sexual fantasies, and sexually repressed individuals like myself start to get uncomfortable, she pans over to Mathers. Here, audience's blood pressure is restored to normal because we switch focus to Mathers, you know… just a harmless white guy at a desk. It's a cute little bit, like when Letterman would cut to Paul Shaffer except with a political punch because she is acknowledging just how hard it is still is for Americans to listen to a woman, a Jewish woman, talk about… well anything really but particularly anything political.

Several of the segments focused on what I might call, people who were 'saved,' changed, came to their senses, so to speak. Silverman had guests on her show that were former white supremacists like Megan Phelps-Roper and Christian Piccolini. While of course these guests made liberals like me feel warm, fuzzy, and hopeful, I couldn't help but assume that any conservatives watching the show were puking in their mouths. Not that I was hoping for another show geared towards conservatives, G-d knows I wouldn't watch. I suppose I just had some liberal guilt on these segments since in my head I was cheering, "See! Things can change! People can be more like me!" Which I suppose is not the final endpoint on the road towards finding a middle ground with conservatives …or is it? Hmmm

Silverman hits a home run as soon as her monologues dive deep into her own self-conflicting, morally questionable, personal, yet highly relatable ubiquitous dilemmas. She hits the #metoo movement nail on the head when she addresses her friend and esteemed colleague Louie C.K. in saying "I love Louie. But Louie did these things." She says much more about this incident but the reason this one line is so powerful is because women don't get to choose to only associate with "good guys" or guys who haven't failed women on the sexual front. In fact, myself included, I don't think I know a woman who doesn't love a man who has royally F'ed up sexually. I don't mean rapists per say, but I do mean everything else that falls short of that. Sexual misconduct, sexual coercion, making sexist comments, being friends with a "buddy" who is sexually inappropriate, buying sex from women at risk (not the cool feminist sex workers that have unions), ect…

What Sarah is helping the world understand is that this sexual misconduct is not just about individual perpetrators; it's about our culture that we love but also that "does these things." Just like people of color don't get to decide to only associate with "woke" white people, women don't get to associate with only woke men. Just as white women can mean well, can be trying so hard…we can still get it wrong. What seems obvious to most women, is still not obvious to white men because they have an entire dominant misogynist culture validating them over and over and over.

What's so great about Sarah is her willingness to live in conflict. In one of her monologues she jokes at the ridiculousness of being on the road with a fellow comedian and he tells her to "have a kid! It's easy!" and her response is something like "Really!? Is it? Who's with your kid while your on this tour you fucking d&*@?" That's not the part that's in conflict though. She goes on to say that she would love to have a kid if she found a partner who wanted to stay home and raise it...but then goes on to say something like "but I am not attracted to those p*&%*s." This part is brilliant because Sarah is naming the hypocrisies that so many progressives live with. So many of us are liberal, live in a non-conforming, non-gender binary world… and yet, at the end of the day, many of us still crave some pretty stereotypical gender roles. It's not necessarily good, but we don't have to pretend these hypocritical desires for conformity don't exist, Sarah doesn't.

The show is worth watching because it will make you cringe a bit. Her discussion of her own particular pornography preferences is enough to make a Bernie Sanders supporter or a Trump lover sweat and turn a little red. In her own weird way, it's her ability to make us all equally uncomfortable that brings us all together. We can all agree. Sarah Silverman is BEYOND…and our country needs her voice now more then ever.

Keep ReadingShow less