Louis C.K. — who is forging ahead with a comedic comeback attempt despite showing little evidence of reflecting on his years of sexually harassing female comedians — deserves to be a punchline, according to “Nanette” comedian Hannah Gadsby.
“He is a joke now. And I think it’s important to keep making that joke,” the Australian comedian told the Los Angeles Times in an interview Monday, as her new stand-up comedy special “Douglas” tours the U.S. this summer before airing on Netflix next year. “He has not reassessed his position of power, and that is why he was able to abuse it. It’s difficult to see a shift in your own power and privilege. It’s not something we’re trained to do. He still honestly thinks he’s the victim in all of this.”
Gadsby’s comedy special “Nanette” made waves last year for its deconstruction of the craft of comedy itself. Among other searing topics, Gadsby reflected on the importance of scrutinizing how society tells stories and shapes narratives, including in the way it often lauds powerful men while turning a blind eye to their mixed legacies.
Gadsby on Monday observed that despite his apology in 2017 and promise to “step back and take a long time to listen,” C.K. remains “just angry and bitter.”
In recent comedy gigs, C.K. continued to joke about masturbating in front of female comedians without their consent. He also mocked survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, and made racist and transphobic remarks.
“Why are we trusting a man who has a compulsion like that where it diminishes the humanity of people around him? Why do we care what he thinks about the human condition?” Gadsby asked. “He needs to worry about his own condition a bit. Just sit quietly.”
Gadsby argued that C.K.’s comedy comes “from a position of defensiveness” because like many men in power, he is “used to controlling a narrative.”
Still, she said she does not believe in censoring bad men because it might prevent people from learning about their unacceptable behavior. She cited Pablo Picasso, whose history of misogyny she notes in “Nanette.”
“Censorship is useless because it leaves a gap where we learned a lesson. Let’s say Picasso. I’m not a fan. But I am a fan. I’m not a fan of the gap that was left in his story, that he was a toxic, hostile individual and that his behavior was enabled by the community around him. But if you were to wipe him from our collective memory, we not only lose what he did well, we lose what he did badly,” Gadsby said. “And we can learn from both.”