I Saw Louis CK in 2016 & He Sucked
I walked out knowing the world was about to leave Louis CK behind.
In July 2016, my then-girlfriend, now-wife, scored us front row tickets to see Louis CK at Constitution Hall here in DC. I was psyched. Louie was one of our favorite TV shows. We had never seen Louis CK in person. This was going to be amazing.
It was a great show. Louis CK was, by far, the worst part of the experience.
I’ve found myself thinking about this show more and more over the past few months, due to his spectacular downfall for being a piece of shit and the meteoric rise of one of his openers. I wish I could remember more about the show. But like most of the events in our lives that take on added importance later, I mostly remember how I felt about it that night because that feeling has lingered.
Michelle Wolf Opens Strong
The first opener was Michelle Wolf. I had literally no idea who she was when she came on stage. She has just recently started on The Daily Show, so my better half had seen her, but I didn’t really care for Trevor Noah at the time, so I hadn’t.
After about two minutes, I realized Michelle Wolf was a star. She had a unique voice and unique look. Most importantly, she made the crowd laugh. I didn’t poll the crowd to see how many people knew her, though her tepid reaction upon arrival made me think I was not the only one in the dark.
While I don’t remember any specific jokes, I remember that her thesis was essentially, “women have it really hard in the world and no one has it harder than Hillary Clinton.” It’s crazy to think that this was an obvious trope in July 2016 and things would only get exponentially worse over the next few months.
It was refreshing, though, to hear someone actually sympathize with Hillary!
I know that seems insane now. At that time, all the talk was about Trump, how he was being treated, how he was being covered, etc. etc. Trump Trump Trump. No one really stopped to consider how Hillary might be feeling at that point, which is probably why Wolf’s set worked so well.
It was also a painful reminder that most of the people talking about Hillary on TV were old, rich, white men. In retrospect, it should have been an alarm that Hillary wasn’t going to win.
Todd Glass Hits Home
Todd Glass was the next act. I identified with him immediately, as his entire set mostly focused on how stupid old people were, especially those supporting Trump and his ilk.
My favorite bit of the entire night came when Glass was talking about older people who refused to educate themselves. As he said, punctuated with a sarcastic laugh, “What am I supposed to do, accumulate knowledge over time and evolve my thinking? Hur hur okay.”
My wife and I still do that bit with each other when we see old men on television ranting away about whatever racism is on their agenda that day. Sure, border crossings have been falling for a decade but let’s paint “brown people” as the enemy.
It resonated with me so much because that’s exactly what I’ve done in my life. People never believe me when I tell them I voted for W twice. Look, I was 18 and 22 years old when I did. I bought into Republican talking points on the economy and foreign policy. I was wrong. I’ve written before about when my attitudes changed and I have never looked back at the Republican Party since.
I hope other misguided young Republicans understand they can change too. You’re not stuck in that party if you don’t share those views. But if you do…
Old, White Louis CK Bombs
When I read reports of Louis CK’s “comeback” set when he went after gun violence victims — school shooting victims for God’s sake — I was not surprised. Because on that July 2016 night, Louis CK wanted to offend. I knew right then and there that Louis CK was going to vote for Donald Trump, and he was probably a shitty person.
Again, I don’t remember the specific jokes because almost none of them made me laugh. The tell that I would not be amused came when Louis CK said that “stereotypes are funny” as the crowd groaned in response and he said, “C’mon!” as if we all supposed to agree with him. Spoiler alert: we did not.
If you’ve ever seen Louis CK do stand up, he does almost a nervous laugh before some of his jokes, as if they’re making him laugh before it makes the audience laugh. When he’s rolling, it’s endearing. When he’s bombing, it’s an indication of why.
See, Louis CK thought his “edgy” white guy comedy was going to kill on this stage. He probably looked out to an audience of 99.9% white faces and assumed his stuff would land. Of course, Hillary got 93% of the vote in the District.
His lame attempts to push the envelope led to more eye rolls than laughter. When his set ended, I was simply glad. I wasn’t disappointed in the night, because I enjoyed Wolf and Glass so much. We just should’ve left before Louis CK took the stage.
It’s okay that I watched him though. I understood, more acutely than ever before, that the world was going to be different. There was a resistance (pardon the pun) to the Louis CK’s of the world. The old, white guy dominated world that America had been for its entire history was on the verge of extinction. Or at least I thought it was on that July night.
Of course, Trump won, which will hopefully exacerbate the shift away from a white patriarchy. It might sound weird for a white guy to bemoan how easy it can be for white guys. That’s partially why I hate Trump so much. He revealed to me that most white guys are, in fact, terrible. I’ve been lucky to know mostly good ones.
These are heavy thoughts to have coming out of a comedy show. Yet when I read the news of the allegations against Louis CK, I could only hang my head in resignation.
He was the epitome of toxic masculinity on that DC stage. Why wouldn’t he be even worse behind closed doors?