Anyone expecting an apology or remorse from comedian Louis C.K. regarding his widely reported sexual misconduct — first reported in the New York Times in Nov. 2017 — will have to keep looking. He avoided apologizing in the statement he issued in the wake of the original story two years ago. And in his late set Thursday night at Zanies in Rosemont — the second of six shows over three days that were quietly announced and quickly sold out earlier this week — he seemed to be working to reframe himself as the victim.
At times during his show, he almost reveled in the shame, claiming everyone in the audience has a “thing” that they do sexually that would be embarrassing if anyone found out, and how privileged we are that — unlike for him — no one knows what it is. His own culpability in the reports of him masturbating in front of women went unmentioned. Instead he put the focus squarely on how he has been affected by the fallout; he used to play arenas, he noted at one point with a cynical laugh, reminding the audience how lucky they were to see him in such an intimate space.
But he doesn’t want anyone quoting him on that. On top of the use of a Yondr case to keep everyone’s phones locked up throughout the course of the show — which is something a number of comics have begun doing over the last few years to avoid leaked recordings of their sets getting out — this show came with an additional disclaimer that I’ve never seen before: “Recording of any kind, including note taking, is not permitting (sic) in the show room. You will be asked to leave.”
I tested the waters during one of the opening acts by using a pencil to write down the comic’s name — Mike Earley, by the way — on a comment card at the table and someone quickly approached me, pointed and said, “There’s no writing during the show.”
At one point, C.K. talked about how we expect “cripples” to be happy with their situation, but notes that if he lost his legs he’d never be happy. Ten years after losing his legs he wouldn’t move on, he asserted. He’d still be complaining about how he wished he still had legs. It’s not a huge jump to make a connection to how C.K. sees himself as the victim in all of this, claiming he “lost $35 million in an hour” when the story came out, and that he’s still upset about that loss.