Louis CK, a comedian who for decades has pushed boundaries onstage, mocked the political activism of Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivors in a recent appearance at a comedy club, the audio of which was posted on YouTube over the weekend.
He has been on the comeback trail for several months after publicly admitting more than a year ago to sexual misconduct with multiple women.
The bit, part of an almost 50-minute set, started with CK discussing his disappointment with members of “the younger generation” and what he perceived to be their sensitivities about certain topics, like pronouns.
“They’re like royalty,” he said. “They tell you what to call them. ‘You should address me as “they-them.” Because I identify as gender neutral.’ Oh, OK. OK. You should address me as ‘there.’ Because I identify as a location.”
But then he moved on to discussing the Parkland students who have received national attention for their unrelenting campaign for gun control.
“They’re testifying in front of Congress, these kids?” CK said, adding: “You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you? Why does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot. You pushed some fat kid in the way and now I’ve got to listen to you talking?”
CK also commented on the amount of attention that the deaths of younger people receive.
“So that day, 17 kids got shot in a school,” he said, adding that thousands of other people who died in the United States that day “didn’t die in their sleep.”
The routine came under a barrage of criticism on social media after the clip was posted.
Fred Guttenberg, the father of one of the victims of the Parkland shooting, posted on Twitter: “To anyone who knows Louis CK, please deliver this message for me. My daughter was killed in the Parkland shooting. My son ran from the bullets. My wife and I deal with loss everyday. Why don’t you come to my house and try out your new pathetic jokes?”
A Parkland survivor, Ryan Deitsch, posted: “It’s a shame when you sink so low that your comeback plan is to make fun of school shooting survivors for speaking out.”
A Twitter message from the person who posted the audio said it was from December 16 at Governor’s Comedy Club on Long Island, where CK has been testing out longer sets. The user, whose handle is Rubben Rock and who declined to provide his or her name, said a friend who was in attendance had recorded the set.
CK had been performing short sets at the Comedy Cellar in New York, and several comedy club owners in the New York City area have expressed their willingness to have him on their stages.
In November 2017, five female comedy colleagues described inappropriate behaviour by CK, including situations where he masturbated in front of them. His career swiftly unravelled: Television production deals were terminated, and the commercial release of his film, ‘I Love You, Daddy,’ was cancelled. The comedian released a statement at the time, saying that “these stories are true” and that “I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
But since re-emerging, CK has made limited references to his misconduct as he has tested material.
At the Comedy Cellar in October, he started his set off with, “So what kind of year have you guys had?”