As society continues to grapple with the wave of accusations of sexual harassment, abuse and rape that have continued to pour out of seemingly every facet of American culture and industry, some have wondered whether any of the accused—especially those with public facing careers—will manage to salvage their careers.
Louis C.K., now perhaps as famous for whipping out his penis in front of coworkers unsolicited as much as his comedy, is one of the first to test the waters. After months of hiding out, (a timeframe comedian Michael Ian Black strangely referred to as "serving time"), C.K. popped up at New York's Comedy Cellar Sunday night, surprising the audience with his first live performance since admitting to the sexual misconduct allegations made against him by five women.
The New York Timesreports that the comedian didn't address the topic on everyone's mind, but instead joked about topics like "racism, waitresses' tips, parades." Cellar owner Noam Dworman said C.K. seemed "very relaxed," and that the sold-out audience "greeted him warmly, with an ovation even before he began." One audience member expressed reservations, contacting the venue the following day to say "he wished he had known in advance" C.K. would be performing "so he could've decided whether to have been there or not."
After C.K. admitted to the allegations against him last fall, which included making female co-workers and fellow comedians watch him masturbate, he faced professional punishments including losing his deal with FX, his agent and management and having his movie I Love You, Daddy, in which an older man dates a much younger woman, scrapped.
"At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true," C.K. said in a statement in November. "But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn't a question, it's a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly." Concluded C.K., "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."