December 31, 2018

Louis C.K. is Back Along with the Problem of Comedy and Controversy

Louis C.K. is Back Along with the Problem of Comedy and Controversy
Louis C.K.'s latest set has leaked with jokes about school shootings and gender pronouns angering the comedy world.

Creating comedy is never easy, but we live in a time that has made it even more complicated. Louis C.K. was one of many prominent figures in entertainment hit with a #metoo scandal that dramatically altered the course of his career. 

C.K. went from the darling of the comedy world to a pariah almost instantaneously. Rolling Stone has picked up a story on his leaked stand-up and the jokes are defensive, angry and almost seem to be targeting the youth culture and movement that brought about his own recent struggles. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8Nc3x_TkF4

"...You’re not interesting cause you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you? How does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot. You pushed some fat kid in the way and now I got to listen to you talking?”

Reactions from fellow comics to Louis set have been negative across the boards. Judd Apatow tweeted, "Louis CK is all fear and bitterness now. He can’t look inward." 

The problem at the heart of it all is that comedy is often at its best when it's pushing buttons. We laugh when we are surprised, or even shocked. We laugh at the things that maybe we take too seriously. 

Anyone who grew up listening to George Carlin knows that pushing the envelope and taking aim at cultural norms can be cathartic, hilarious, and powerful. Carlin was a true master. He somehow managed to insult all of us without being overly offensive. He did it with a light touch. Most importantly though... when he did it it was funny. 

And that's the really tricky part. You can get away with a lot if the joke lands. If it doesn't, you just seem insensitive. Carlin wasn't just a product of a time where the "politically correct culture police" had yet to crack down. He was able to navigate the choppy waters with aplomb. 

Far too many lesser comics fall prey to the notion that they must be shocking to get a laugh, and think less about crafting a good joke, or set. Many great comics have lived entirely without resorting to shock tactics, or insults. Bill Cosby and Jerry Seinfeld stand out as two such comics. Of course, Cosby has been embroiled in scandal and was convicted of crimes himself. The nature of his jokes had nothing to do with that. 

We live in tricky times for comedy because pushing buttons is a particularly dangerous game. Louis' career was derailed by sexual misconduct, not the nature of his jokes, but now that he is back, his jokes seem to be suffering from some of his hurt over how things went down. 

It would be a mistake to police our comedians content and punish them for being offensive. We want artists to be free to express any views, just like anyone else. The real problem with Louis latest set?

It's just not that funny. 

"Punching down" so to speak, at a group of people who suffered a school shooting isn't going to win over a crowd. Louis used to present a self-deprecating voice and unique worldview, now he seems embroiled in a battle with the culture of political correctness and "social justice warriors." 

But it's not young people who survived school shootings, or transgendered people who wish to change their pronouns who put a halt to Louis many show and movie deals. It was his abuse of power. 

 

Your Comment

30 Comments

Another day, another article on NoFilmSchool that has nothing to do with filmmaking. I guess as long as it gets clicks...

December 31, 2018 at 4:42PM

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Samuel Neff
DP / Editor
873

As someone who started her career entirely based on the writing of comedians, I've been surrounded by these conversations for almost a decade.
So this is definitely related to filmmaking. Unless you don't think that comedy should be considered a legitimate film genre...?

January 1, 2019 at 2:35AM

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Katie Cutting
DoP, Documentarian
92

Katie, I of course recognize that comedy exists in films. That doesn't mean that just because something involves comedy, it's appropriate for posting on this website.

By that logic, we could start seeing posts titled "This week's top 10 videos so FUNNY you wouldn't believe!" Yes, that example includes filmed videos, and yes, they may be funny, but this website isn't YouTube, Buzzfeed, or a general news source. It's a website about filmmaking, and there was no attempt to tie filmmaking into this post.

I'm glad to read these pieces. But they don't belong here. They're being written elsewhere, and able to be read elsewhere. It's clear that NFS wants to piggyback off current cultural topics for clicks, and that's disappointing.

January 1, 2019 at 5:55PM

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Samuel Neff
DP / Editor
873

I would say that accusing NFS of click bate is way too nice. They have an ideological platform that is equally prevalent to stories that aren't popular. They operate under the moral superiority complex.

January 1, 2019 at 6:03PM

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This has nothing to do with the film business. The notion that comedy is related to film in someway so that means this is too, is well "less than''.
This is an ideological post about politics. Some clown trying to devaluate one of the best comics of our generation with nothing to offer but "I'm easily offended". Yuck... Grow up..

January 1, 2019 at 6:01PM

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This article could of been shortened to. "Louis CK just isn't for me."
Instead of trying to pontificate the morality of we should find funny and not.

January 1, 2019 at 5:42AM

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Vincent Gortho
none
958

He is a filmmaker. Does that count? lol

January 3, 2019 at 7:00PM

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Ian Mora
Writer, Director, Editor, Camera Operator
205

We need more Louis CK in our lives. We need more raunchiness. More entertainers who push boundaries. Thank you Louis CK. The hackjob known as METOO destroyed you for a minute with such nonsensical accusations but you're back now.

January 1, 2019 at 5:38AM

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Vincent Gortho
none
958

This would be the nonsensical accusations that he admitted to. Think before you post.

January 1, 2019 at 7:54AM

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keith
406

Real women were harassed.

January 1, 2019 at 9:21PM

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Jwalker
206

He exposed himself to woman without their consent but yeah, go ahead and make him out to be the victim.

January 2, 2019 at 2:47PM

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Are you sure? Or are you just regurgitating? From what I've read, after drinks they agreed to come to his hotel room late at night. At which point he asked them whether he could masturbate in front of them. They said yes probably not thinking he was serious.. well he was. Creepy?Maybe. Illegal? No.

January 3, 2019 at 9:11AM

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I'd hate to be a comedian nowadays.......it's selectively a little 'split personality' like when dealing with audiences and reviewers......they laugh when they want to and be conveniently offended then overly 'literal' with the material when they ALSO want to be (not wanting to laugh).

You also have a BIG problem with humour when you have to 'explain' the jokes.

As to 'how far you should push things' with humour.......that is an even bigger dilemma and something no comedian should ever be questioning (unless a shock jock by profession).

Ultimately do we really want "Humour = Russell Peters?"........cause that's what we'll ultimately get with soo much selective outrage controlling and writing the narrative.

Let's face it, when it comes to Louis C.K there were always going to be two camps, those who wanted his return and would accept him in ANY form (after some wank therapy in private).......and those who will NEVER forgive him and who will just write him off with dismissive snark like..... 'his jokes aren't funny'........even though they feel the need to explain the jokes..... which often just comes across as their own weird 'comedy skit by accident'.

Dissing the kids will guarantee Louis one thing..........they sure will talk about him A LOT! (while offended)

January 1, 2019 at 7:20AM

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This writer of this article has some big stones to decide that Louis CK set "just not that funny"
Its a hilarious set. There is absolutely no room for political correctness in comedy. If you didn't get shot, you are not a survivor. Another stupid term that is misused and blindly accepted just like "rescuing a pet"...If you didn't take if from a burning building you didn't ''rescue it'' you adopted it. This is another example of "this topic can't be joked about or criticized'' just like the entire Obama presidency. Sites related to the arts used to be big supporters of free speech. This site is more about ideology than art.

January 1, 2019 at 5:56PM

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You lost me with the whole comment about the Obama presidency, as it has nothing to do with the current discussion. If there's any relevant observation to make about those 8 years, with regards to the current topic of this conversation, it's that the level of respect for the office of the president suddenly dropped precipitously once Barack was in office. The daily inundation of unfair and mostly inaccurate criticism, outright mockery and vile hatred leveled at this person was comically disproportionate to his actual words and deeds (sound familiar...) and exposed the latent racial hatred simmering just under the surface of white society and obscured by the thin veneer of American political discourse and popular culture at large. Political correctness is mostly a waste of time, and partly a threat to free speech, but people who repurpose appropriate and justified criticism of overly sensitive and highly aggressive social media enforcers as a platform to then rationalize or even promote genuine bigotry and discrimination are as misguided as they are missing the point. Just because a great many people (myself included) have turned on the cultural critics and twitter police for their extreme intolerance of relatively benign public discourse, or their bullying of so many comics and celebrities for relatively harmless provocative language, doesn't mean we also share a resentment towards women and minorities or get that extra level of satisfaction from racially or sexually tinged comedic material. It is possible for a person to BOTH hate PC culture AND like and promote the interests of diversity and equality. Pretending like they are mutually exclusive ideas is like branding a scarlet R on one's arm. It's an inadvertent and transparent admission of ignorance and bigotry.

January 1, 2019 at 9:32PM

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Conor Liam Bolton
Writer/Director
87

My God you are so full of yourself.

January 3, 2019 at 9:15AM

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This tangent seems to be unrelated but I will try to respond. The Obama presidency has been designated "off limits" for criticism. Any criticism is label racist which is absurd. It seem that you agree with the "off limits'' rule based on your response.

What does this pertain to?
''doesn't mean we also share a resentment towards women and minorities or get that extra level of satisfaction from racially or sexually tinged comedic material''

Free speech is free speech. It does not matter the topic. Political correctness is a communist ideology. I'm sure you are fine with that.

January 4, 2019 at 4:33PM

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"Political correctness is a communist ideology."

What?

January 6, 2019 at 2:35AM

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Jwalker
206

Why is it that 99% of those who complain about "political correctness" are white men? Anyone who complains about political correctness has a problem with plain ole common decency.

January 2, 2019 at 2:50PM

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Not sure where you got the 99% statistic. I assume that is your racial bias. Therefore your question cannot be answered.
Common decency is an alternative to political correctness. Your lack of understanding about pc is too much to overcome for this conversation.

January 4, 2019 at 4:26PM

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There is no problem with comedy. Millennials are just lame sense of humor lame people. And Political Correctness is just Fascism masquerading as manners. I can't wait till this stupid period of history is over. Trust me. Future historians will talk very badly about this stupid time in history. You're not woke. You're just lame asses.

January 2, 2019 at 4:01AM, Edited January 2, 4:02AM

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Wow! You seem like the kind of person who has no life and bitch about something that doesn't concern him

January 2, 2019 at 10:50PM

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Jwalker
206

You sound like the kind of person who has nothing productive or relevant to add to the conversation so instead resort to personal attacks.

January 3, 2019 at 9:19AM

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My God you are so full of yourself.

January 3, 2019 at 11:34PM

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Jwalker
206

It's because of articles like this on NFS that is causing the comments/viewership to plummet on this site. It's obvious you're trying to get clicks embedding the keywords of the day in the title and text of this post. There is not a hint in this article related to why this site exists: to learn about filmmaking. Don't lose the plot.

January 2, 2019 at 9:46AM, Edited January 2, 9:46AM

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Nick
Director/Editor/Compositer
350

You know what else Carlin did? He made jokes about everybody. And if you can't do that, you can't make jokes about anybody at all. If you don't believe me look at most recently made comedies. Nothing but fart and dick jokes.

January 2, 2019 at 10:41AM

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The day this site starts showing any political bent, I'll be leaving. I don't come here or care what the contributors political slants are, although I have a very good idea.

I just think back to comedy from the 70s and 80s and how it just couldn't fly today with how overly sensitive and so easily triggered people are now. Its quite pathetic. Its COMEDY. If it doesn't trigger you in some way, they're not doing their jobs. And I wouldn't care if it wasn't for the extreme slant where certain people get a pass, and others can lose their careers. PC is the ENEMY of comedy.

January 2, 2019 at 11:01AM

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Josh.R
Motion Designer/Predator
938

Ugh, is somebody not paying attention here?

January 2, 2019 at 10:52PM

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Jwalker
206

I felt like NFS really used to challenge itself and it's readers now it has a format and doesn't inspire. This article is all opinion and the same quote everyone is publishing out of context. Yes comedy is apart of film but that's not what this article discusses. We could be talking about censorship and have real historic examples of its effect on film; good and/or bad.

Bring back IFW - the articles are redundant or not substantive but the podcast was nice. A unique perspective of people talking film.

January 3, 2019 at 1:36PM

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Omari R.I.
Director of Photography
14

This article has a larger discussion going on than a lot articles about actual film and filming tech that has been on here lol.

January 7, 2019 at 12:58AM, Edited January 7, 12:58AM

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Dantly Wyatt
Musical Comedy & Content Creator.
694