Given the consistent allegations of lewd behaviour towards female colleagues by the otherwise brilliant American comedian Louis CK, I have to wonder if his recent mea culpa came as much of a surprise to anyone. Many of his peers have expressed shock and dismay, though some of them were certainly close enough to the circles he moved in to know – or guess – the truth long before this. Personally, I thought the writer’s public statement on the matter came with the familiar ring of damage limitation experts from an exorbitantly expensive PR company in Hollywood. Then again, what excuse could one offer for such repulsive and frankly malicious behaviour? It’s all well and good to offer contrition for the incidences of masturbatory exhibitionism he forced several women to witness, but the underlying pathology is the more worrying aspect of this. And the culture it apparently represents.
Louis CK’s close friend and rival, Marc Maron, has offered his own opinion on the scandal in his regular podcast, and it is a fairly heartfelt one. More than most in the comedy field, he acknowledges the hurt and humiliation that women comics and writers have endured in order to be accepted into the toxic environment created by CK and others. It is well worth a listen if you have twenty minutes or so, with some personal revelations of his own. In contrast, Nick Di Paolo, another well-known standup-turned-broadcaster, reflects the opposite view. And what an obnoxious, game-blaming one it is. Short of stating that the women “asked for it” by being alone in CK’s company, or that they were somehow complicit in the affair by failing to flee the scene at the first sign of inappropriateness, he goes out of his way to attack the victims not the victimiser. Unfortunately, it marks the comedian’s final transition to the further, quasi-libertarian right of US politics.