On Wednesday night, Louis C.K. took to the stage in San Jose, the latest stop on his comeback tour. It’s now been a little over a year since the comedian was accused of sexual misconduct — something he addressed as soon as the set began, by making a joke about it.
According to the Daily Beast, C.K. opened his set by telling the audience, “I like to jerk off, and I don’t like being alone.”
This seems to have been the first time he’s used his time onstage to directly acknowledge the fact that he masturbated in front of several unwilling women. In a series of sets over the past few months, he’s only vaguely alluded to his behavior, with jokes about having had a “weird year” and about black people standing by him after he “[got] in trouble.”
After at least five different women came forward in November 2017 with claims that C.K. had engaged in a pattern of misconduct for decades, he publicly admitted that the allegations were true. In a lengthy, contrite statement published by the New York Times, he wrote, “I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them.”
He added, “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.”
During the San Jose set, the Daily Beast reports, C.K. spent the first half of the night joking about his own behavior, as well as backlash to a recent set in which he’d complained about nonbinary pronouns and mocked teenage Parkland school shooting survivors.
“If you ever need people to forget that you jerked off, what you do is you make a joke about kids that got shot,” he said, referring to the Parkland jokes.
The Daily Beast reports that those infamous Parkland jokes were dropped from Wednesday night’s set, though C.K. did repeat some of his previously heard new material, like a bit on the word “retarded,” and some tired bits about black men having large penises, and Asian men having small ones “because they’re all women.” And while he reportedly walked out to a standing ovation, the energy apparently “started to go downhill” when he told a 9/11 joke.
“He came out with both fists swinging,” an audience member told the Daily Beast.
So much for taking a step back to listen.