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Louis C.K. Returns To Comedy For The First Time Since Admitting To Sexual Misconduct


Disgraced comedian Louis C.K. made a surprise appearance at a comedy club in New York on Sunday night. He'd been a powerhouse in the comedy world until last November when The New York Times reported on allegations of sexual misconduct made by five women. In a moment, we'll hear comedian Melinda Hill's thoughts about Louis C.K.'s reappearance and his future. First, NPR's Elizabeth Blair has this report, which contains themes that may not be appropriate for some listeners.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: The women who came forward worked in comedy. Some were hoping to get career advice from Louis C.K. Instead he took advantage of the situations. Among the women's complaints - he masturbated in front of them without their consent. The next day, C.K. came out with a statement that said the stories were true and that he was remorseful. The consequences were swift. He was dropped by his management company. FX, HBO, Netflix all severed ties with him. He pretty much disappeared until Sunday night when the owner of the Comedy Cellar got a text.

NOAM DWORMAN: Louis' here. He just went onstage. Basically that was it.

BLAIR: Noam Dworman wasn't there Sunday night, but he's seen a tape of the set.

DWORMAN: Talked about parades and some wordplay that his daughter had come up with and some social commentary on racism and - nascent material, nothing formed at all.

BLAIR: Another comedian who was there told Dworman the audience was friendly to Louis C.K. But Dworman says he also got a complaint from a customer. He admits he's not sure what to say to customers who might feel ambushed.

DWORMAN: It's a New York City comedy club. And the fact that you don't know what's going to happen and anything can happen is also - that's kind of what - you sign on the dotted line for that when you walk into a comedy club, you know, so...

BLAIR: If you had been there Sunday night, would you have let him perform?

DWORMAN: I would have wanted to speak to him before he went on. And I would have asked him what he was going to - how he was going to do it. And if he told me that he wasn't going to address it at all, I would try my best to impose on him that he should address it. I might - I don't know. It's such a hard question.

BLAIR: Dworman says he believes in second chances, but he's struggling. He wonders, is there a right time for someone like Louis C.K. to return to comedy, and when is it? Meantime, some comedy fans on social media are saying it was too soon and wonder when Louis C.K.'s victims will have their moment onstage. Elizabeth Blair, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.