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Louis C.K., the comedian and filmmaker who retreated from the limelight last year after admitting to sexual misconduct, returned to the stand-up stage on Sunday, according to a report.
He appeared at the famed Comedy Cellar in New York’s Greenwich Village around 11 p.m. on Sunday, receiving an ovation before he launched into his set, the club’s owner, Noam Dworman, told the New York Times.
Dworman described the 15-minute routine as “typical Louis C.K. stuff” — sardonic jokes about racism, waitresses tips, parades. The comedian, reportedly clad in a black T-shirt and gray pants, apparently did not address the misconduct claims or the #MeToo movement.
“It sounded just like he was trying to work out some new material, almost like any time of the last 10 years he would come in at the beginning of a new act,” Dworman said.
Five women have accused Louis C.K. of inappropriate sexual conduct dating back more than a decade, including two comedians who claim he masturbated in front of them in a Colorado hotel room in 2002, the Times reported last November.
In a lengthy statement released in the wake of the Times report on the accusations, Louis C.K. admitted to misconduct, saying in part: “These stories are true.” He said at the time that he would “step back and take a long time to listen.”
FX, the cable network that aired his sitcom “Louie,” cut ties with the Emmy-winning star and his production company. The Orchard, a film distributor, shelved “I Love You, Daddy,” a dark comedy he wrote, directed and starred in.
In the film, Louis C.K. plays a television writer whose 17-year-old daughter (Chloe Grace Moritz) becomes involved with a 68-year-old filmmaker (John Malkovich). In one scene, the protagonist’s male friend (Charlie Day) mimes masturbating even when a female producer (Edie Falco) walks in the room.
The Times reported that Louis C.K. appeared to be “very relaxed” and drew a generally warm reception when he took the stage at the Comedy Cellar, a storied venue where many scenes of “Louie” — including part of the opening credits — were filmed.
But on social media, the reaction to his return to the proverbial spotlight was far more mixed.
“I believe people can grow and change, but this urgency to bring him (and others) back SO soon just sends a bad message,” MAD Magazine editor Allie Goertz tweeted.
“Louis CK is spearheading the #MeTooSoon movement,” comedian and actress Melinda Hill tweeted.
Seth Simons, a freelance writer, appeared to take the Comedy Cellar to task for allowing Louis C.K. to perform:
Dworman, the Comedy Cellar owner, told the Times that he understood that “some people will be upset with me” for hosting the embattled star: “I care about my customers very much. Every complaint goes through me like a knife. And I care about doing the right thing.”
But he added that “there can’t be a permanent life sentence on someone who does something wrong.”