Louis CK Allegations Are 'Best Thing' to Happen to Comedy

It's time for a 'full reckoning,' writes Lindy West
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2017 4:16 PM CST
Louis CK Allegations Are 'Best Thing' to Happen to Comedy
Louis CK performs at Stand Up For Heroes, presented by the New York Comedy Festival and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, in New York.   (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

"This is the best thing that has happened to comedy in a long time," Lindy West writes in the New York Times regarding the allegations against Louis CK. And despite the headline "Why Men Aren't Funny," that's not coming from a longtime CK hater. West admits to at one point holding CK, one of the "sacred man-boys" of comedy, in the highest esteem as a comic loved by "the morning talk radio boys' club" and also "feminists and art snobs." But following the "shrewd calculation" of CK's apology to his victims—in which he said "I, one man, made one mistake" instead of, "I, among many others, preyed upon vulnerable women in my industry, on purpose, because I am both a defender and a beneficiary of an entrenched system of oppression"—it's time for a "full reckoning."

While the days after the CK news broke have been full of male comics—Jon Stewart and Marc Maron, to name two—making grim-faced statements acknowledging—finally—the difficulties faced by women in comedy, that's not what's needed now. Instead, comedy, which upholds "one of the most rigidly patriarchal hierarchies of any art form," needs to have people who are "not male, not straight, not cisgender, not white" put in positions of power. "This is not taking something away unfairly," West writes. "It is restoring opportunities that have been historically withheld." Shifting the power structure in comedy, an "art that shapes how people think," could potentially begin fixing problems caused by power imbalances elsewhere in society. Read the full piece here. (More Louis CK stories.)

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