Wednesday, August 29, 2018

What the Hell is "Comedy-World Redemption?"

At The Daily Beast, Danielle Tcholakian complains that in Louis C.K.'s return to the comedy stage (an unannounced set at the Comedy Cellar), "[i]t appears he did not address his past misdeeds or any lessons he may have learned in his time out of the public eye. It seems C.K. would like everyone to forget his transgressions."

C.K spent the better part of a year out of the public eye after it came out that he had a habit of asking women to watch him masturbate (in his mea culpa he admitted that "when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question").

The story's title summarizes Tcholakian's opinion: "Louis C.K. Hasn’t Earned His Comedy-World Redemption."

Uh ... what?

Let's start with where Tcholakian is right: "[P]art of why C.K. and others need redemption is because they did not act toward others with a base level of respect and decency. You cannot command treatment from others that you have not given yourself. This is very basic stuff. Do unto others, etc. It should not be a revelation."

Yep. But that sort of "redemption" has to do with the person and those he has wronged.

Sure, people who learn about it at (ahem) second hand are entitled to their opinions, up to and including "ewwww ... can't ever look at that guy again without seeing things in my head that I don't want to see."

But since they aren't the ones C.K. asked (from a position that may have made it less a request than a demand) to watch him flog the dolphin, he doesn't owe them any kind of apology or accounting over that.

They are customers of something other than his free live masturbation shows.

They want what he's offering (a particular comedy experience), or they don't.

They want it from him, or they don't.

They consider it worth whatever payment he's demanding for it, or they don't.

If they think he needs some kind of "redemption," then whether or not he's "earned" that redemption is entirely up to them to decide.

Here's the question I ask myself about any comedian when considering whether or not that comedian's services are worth retaining:

Is he or she funny and thought-provoking enough that I feel like my time and/or attention and/or money were well-spent on the show?

Full stop.

I suppose if I couldn't watch the guy without involuntarily experiencing mental imagery of him whacking the mole, I might conclude that the value proposition didn't work. But that has nothing at all to do with what he may or may not owe those whom he actually so imposed himself on.

I'm a fan. Among currently active comedians I know of (I'm no connoisseur of comedy), he places second on my favorites list behind Doug Stanhope. I think I've seen all of his video comedy specials (and I've paid cash for at least one, maybe two, via his "buy direct from my web site" release scheme) and most episodes of his old show, "Louie."

Given the money and the opportunity, I'd buy a ticket to a set. And I wish he'd hurry up and release I Love You, Daddy, the film he wrote, directed, and was about to see released in American theaters when the chicken-choking controversy shut him down, so I could rent or buy that too (he appears to have purchased the rights back from the film's cowardly distributor).

Ditto Netflix's Gore Vidal biopic starring Kevin Spacey, by the way. Why should I, as a paying subscriber, be denied what sounds like a good movie just because one actor in got publicly crucified ... even if he deserved it?

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