What I Saw At the Louis CK Show

He’s still funny and people don’t seem to care that he’s a creep

A few hours before Louis CK’s scheduled 7:30 show on Saturday night, the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans sent me an urgent text: “Due to heightened security, please arrive an hour early.”

Oh shit, I thought, they’re worried someone will assassinate Louis CK. But no, Louis himself had heightened security, scared we’d make recordings and leak his jokes. He also had a no note-taking rule in effect. Which meant I really had to hide my pen and pad.

At 6:30 I got into a line that wrapped around the building. It was mostly white guys, but at least half brought their lady dates. I did not see even one of my friends–a rare thing at a huge show in tiny New Orleans. I was sort of embarrassed to be there myself. I’d really loved Louis CK back before, as Dave Chappelle put it, “He died in that terrible masturbation accident.” I’d planned to boycott Louis for at least a few years, but got free tickets at the last moment. Now, I’d reduced my boycott to just not putting money in his pocket (unless the theater gave him a cut of the $12 I paid for a cup of wine). I felt as if I was on my way to rendezvous with a shitty ex that I knew I should avoid, but for whom I secretly longed.

A Giant Line To Pee

The heightened security and the massive line (Louis CK had quickly sold out two nights at the 1,500-seat Orpheum) made it seem as if something big was happening.  Yet I could not for the life of me sell my partner’s abandoned ticket. No one was even looking for tickets. Not only that, but because I left my cell phone in my car like a civilized human being, and didn’t have to have it locked in a Yondr pouch, I somehow walked right in and got my hand stamped without anyone checking either of my tickets.

In the lobby, I immediately saw something I’d never seen before in my life: a giant line for the men’s room and absolutely no line for the women’s. I imagine Rush concerts were probably like this, but standing in line to pee was definitely a new experience for me. 

The show started late, just after 8pm. Two male comics opened: the hyperactive and hypermasculine Greg Hahn and the sedate MMA-enthusiast Joe List, who made a point to announce the third comic, Lynne Koplitz, as “One of Louis’s favorite comedians.” All three were funny, but it was Koplitz who really got the crowd ready with a pretty amazing long joke about how she’d thwart a rapist: “I’ll rape your stupid fucking rape,” she threatened in her Peg Bundy-esque voice. “I’ll just say ‘I love you’ into his ear and start kissing his hand, very softly so he can feel the tenderness.” She ended the bit by admitting, “I am not sure that’d work with an actual rapist but it sure scares off regular men.” 

Old Louis Appears

Louis came out to the roar of his fans, and a sorta creepy standing ovation from some men in the audience. Many reviews have framed this tour as Louis “attempting a comeback,” which is a strange way to view a situation most comics would consider the pinnacle of success.

Since I last saw Louis, what’s left of his hair has gone grey. A balding redhead myself, I once saw him as our people’s best representative (Prince Harry and Carrot Top just don’t cut it). Now he is but another albatross around our ginger necks. I used to appreciate it when people told me I looked like my favorite redhead comic genius. More recently however, I felt the need to lose 25 pounds so people would quit saying I resembled the notorious serial masturbator.

Louis started off by lightly discussing his indiscretions (“You find out who your real friends are. But who wants to know who their real friends are? It’s never who you hope your real friends are.”). He would later tackle the subject more directly. Until then, he touched on how terrorism seems to have evaporated (“We sent our message. We’re done now.”), and the new dog he bought from a breeder (“People ask, ‘Was she a rescue?’ No, my dog was very expensive, please don’t touch her.”). He began one bit by saying, “Let’s talk about the word ‘retarded’ now for about 20 minutes,” and then he talked about the word ‘retarded’ for almost 20 minutes.

If you were ever a real Louis CK fan, you know that, despite that he’s a scumbag, he pulled off these stupid topics with hilarious, intelligent aplomb. He is clearly a better writer than he is a human being.

Offensive and Utterly True

Near the end, Louis joked about how some gay people must have enjoyed being gay more when it was wrong (“I could lose my job for this,” he grunted while thrusting his hips. “Oh god, I’m breaking my mother’s heart.”). He claimed that some folks need sex to be “fucked up”–and that’s when he pointed at himself. 

“Should we talk about it?” he unironically asked first. His crowd roared again. I, for one, did not give him my consent; I didn’t want to hear him make light of the way he bullied women. But I admit, it ended up being the best, deepest part of his show.

“If you ask someone if you can jerk off in front of them, and they say ‘yes’ [pregnant pause] still don’t do it,” he advised, then repeated, in an almost serious tone: “Just don’t do it. Don’t do it. Don’t do it.” He continued in the edgy-but-woke voice he once used to such great effect: “Women are taught their whole lives to act like things are OK, even when they are not OK,” he observed. “A woman can be moaning and making pleasure noises and you think everything is going great, but they’re just trying to get through it…kind of like slaves singing Negro spirituals; you might hear them singing in the fields and think, Wow, they’re really happy! But…”

That is a deep joke—offensive and utterly true.

Louis wrapped up his self-roast by promising us, “Everyone has a thing. You all are so lucky that people don’t know your thing. So lucky! People know my thing now on a global scale. Everyone knows my thing. President Obama knows my thing…”

Those who believe Louis’s act has taken some right-wing turn clearly don’t remember his classic jokes such as, “Rape is wrong. You should never rape anyone. Unless they won’t fuck you.” You used to like that joke! Or maybe you still do.

One thing seems obvious: despite the internet furor, people in general don’t seem to care that Louis CK is a creep. As I walked out of the theatre I heard a man in front of me talking about the performance with his two elderly parents; they both agreed the set was “very funny, original, and bizarre,” while behind me I heard a woman admit, “I’m sad that it’s over.”

From all outward appearances though, it definitely isn’t over.

 

Michael Patrick Welch

Michael Patrick Welch is a New Orleans author and journalist. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Vice, Oxford American, Columbia Journalism Review, and many other great venues.

17 thoughts on “What I Saw At the Louis CK Show

  • February 4, 2020 at 3:03 pm
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    Crap, I was hoping he had a new hour, but based on your recap, it sounds like it’s the same hour that got leaked last year.

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  • February 4, 2020 at 8:37 pm
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    All of the sex acts were consentual. It is a very important point that all of these negative articles should point out. That is why people dont seem to care that hes a creep.

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  • February 5, 2020 at 9:24 am
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    “ You used to like that joke! Or maybe you still do.”

    How many different ways can feminists say the same thing before people listen? I never liked that joke. It was never funny to me. It was never funny to a lot of us. Rape joke are not cool, not kind, and often not funny. They perpetuate a culture that tells us we do not matter, our bodies and concerns and autonomy do not matter, and CK still performing does that, too.

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    • February 5, 2020 at 9:16 pm
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      Oh good grief. Clearly many people like(d) the joke. The fact that you don’t does nothing to negate the author’s point. And I’m not sure how banning CK from performing–something you’d clearly endorse–isn’t infringing upon HIS autonomy. So use your autonomy to go read a different article or watch a different show. No one’s stopping you.

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      • February 6, 2020 at 8:22 pm
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        That’s a really moronic statement you mad there. Are you seriously implying that by making a joke of rape victims Louie is some how saying ‘they don’t matter’? With that abomination of a blanket statement you can make that assertion about ANY comedic material that is used. Lgbt jokes? You hate them. Obese children? You monster. Pedophiles? How dare you. White women? The audacity!

        No, because comedy is an ARTFORM that requires subtle nuance to navigate the darkest and most egregious parts of humanity effectively. Nothing is off limits for comedy, that’s the magic of laughing at something hysterically tragic. Why not cancel shows like Family Guy or South Park for endlessely satirizing the holocaust? They obviously think Jews don’t matter. Oh. Matt Stone and many comedy writers are Jewish in heritage? My, my, the Uncle Tom syndrome is morbidly pronounced in the comedy world!

        Yet again, the woke feminist culture attempts to demean and belittle the fabric of good comedy by victimising themselves for the sake of looking virtuous. Lovely.

        Reply
  • February 5, 2020 at 4:03 pm
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    A shitty article written by a shitty audience member who took shitty, forbidden notes at a stand up show just so he could be a shitty journalist. Michael Patrick Welch is a little c*nt.

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  • February 6, 2020 at 1:08 am
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    Come see my new band, Forbidden Notes.

    Seriously. That’s a good band name.

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  • February 6, 2020 at 9:52 am
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    The writer seriously complained that Louis didn’t receive his consent before saying something about the masturbation thingy on stage. That is just hilarious. A sad attempt at framing Louis as some kind of villain. Dude, you gave your consent when you entered the show. It was made public that this is a xxx comedy show for adults. If you can’t stand that, go home.

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  • February 6, 2020 at 5:06 pm
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    You are one wound up dude. Must be difficult being so “woke” all the time. You were supposed to do a review about his show, not tell us how you felt about going to his show. Nobody really cares about your feelings, Mr. Welch. You aren’t the star. You are just a critic. Louis CK could probably have retired and never worked again, or he could have been a writer and never been on stage again. I admire that he admitted what he did and came back to comedy clubs. Good for him.

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    • February 6, 2020 at 9:20 pm
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      Mike did do a review of the show. And it’s perfectly valid for him to talk about how he felt about going to the show, Louis CK is a controversial guy. Also, as far as I can tell, Mike thought it was funny.

      Reply
  • February 6, 2020 at 9:25 pm
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    The author is a moron and a retard.

    Reply

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