Oxygen Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
Very Real

Michael Che Defends Louis C.K. Amid Backlash Over Return To Stand-Up Comedy

“I do believe any free person has a right to speak and make a living,” Michael Che said on social media this week.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Following Louis C.K.’s apparent return to stand-up and the ensuing backlash, fellow comedian Michael Che took to social media to show his support for the “Louie” actor.

Louis C.K. made an unannounced appearance at NYC’s Comedy Cellar on Sunday for a 15-minute set — his first since admitting to sexual misconduct last year and receding from the spotlight. Club owner Noam Dworman told The New York Times that Louis C.K. was met with a standing ovation before he even began his set, and while some have criticized Louis C.K. for his reemergence in the comedy scene, some, like Michael Che, don’t see a problem with it.

In a series of Instagram posts this week, the 35-year-old actor and comedian defended Louis C.K.’s return, Complex reports.

“What’s interesting to me about these articles against Louis C.K. performing again, is how important fame is to people,” one post, captured via screenshots, read. “A lot of what I read says that CK shouldn’t get to be a ‘famous’ comedian anymore. Because to them, he’s still winning.”

“Isn’t that strange?” his posts continued. “Meaning he can be shamed, humiliated, lose millions of dollars, lose all of his projects, lose the respect of a lot of his fans and peers, and whatever else that comes with what he did, but since he can still do a comedy set for free at a 200 seat club a year later, it means he got off easy. THAT’s how coveted fame is.”

When responding to a comment asking what he believes Louis C.K. deserves, Che reportedly answering by admitting that he doesn’t “really know,” according to The Daily Beast.

“I haven’t talked to him in a while,” his comment continued. “I don’t know any of his accusers. I don’t know what he’s done to right that situation, and it’s none of my business. But I do believe any free person has a right to speak and make a living.”

The allegations concerning Louis C.K. came to light in November when The New York Times published an extensive report detailing the stories of five women, some of whom alleged that the 50-year-old comedian, actor, and director exposed himself to them in hotel rooms. A day after the story was published, Louis C.K. admitted to sexual misconduct in a statement, declaring, “These stories are true.” Numerous media companies, including FX network and Netflix, have since severed all ties to him.

Following Louis C.K.’s return to the stage, a number of comedians and entertainers have taken to social media to engage in what has become a furious debate on the ramifications of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era.

Comedian and actress Kathy Griffin pointed out Louis C.K.’s privilege in a series of tweets, one of which read, “You know how many talented women and POC comics are knocking on doors trying to get some time in front of audiences or powerful people in this business? And Louis just gets to glide back in on his own terms? Gosh, does it payoff to be in the boys club..the white boys club.”

Comedian Aparna Nancherla theorized that Louis C.K.’s return held greater symbolism for how sexual misconduct is viewed in society, writing, “louis ck getting a standing ovation for dropping in to a comedy club less than a year after admitting to sexual misconduct tells you all you need to know about how society applauds powerful men for doing less than the minimum of decency.”

Still, some within the comedy community have offered their support of Louis C.K.’s tentative return. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, comedian Michael Ian Black acknowledged that he would “take heat” for his views, but wrote, “people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives. I don’t know if it's been long enough, or his career will recover, or if people will have him back, but I’m happy to see him try.”

“My empathy isn’t for Louis. It’s for the recognition that we’re in a cultural moment in which some men who do terrible things have no pathway for redemption. That lack of a pathway creates a situation in which we are casting people out but not giving them a way back in,” he clarified. “The #metoo movement is incredibly powerful and important and vital. One next step, among many steps, has to be figuring out a way for the men who are caught up in it to find redemption.”

Louis C.K. has yet to comment publicly on the controversy.

[Photos: Michael Che performs during Clusterfest at Civic Center Plaza and The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on June 2, 2018 in San Francisco, California. By FilmMagic via Getty Images; Louis C.K. speaks onstage during the FX portion of the 2017 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 9, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. By Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]