Comedian You Should KnowComedyPerformer you should know

An Open Letter To Louis C.K.

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By Rachel Fogletto

Photo Credit- Frederick M. Brown

I’m not here to talk about you jerking off in front women without their consent because I know you’re probably tired of hearing about it, and actually, I am too. I’m also not here to talk about you returning to the stage less than a year after you admitted to, and apologized for, abusing your status to silence women in comedy to fulfill your own sexual gratification. I actually don’t care. I don’t care because I can’t care.

I can only speak for myself and maybe other female comics who are as unknown as I am. I don’t care that you violated women and only apologized when you had to, because I can’t care. I don’t care that you, and other men who have committed similar or worse violations, are welcomed back into the public eye, because I can’t care. I also can’t care that women who cut you the slightest bit of slack are judged more harshly than the men who cut you more. I can’t care about these things because if I work hard and if I am lucky enough to achieve my dream, these bleak realities are my future.

To go up against you, care cannot be my weapon. My weapon has to be, respect. To go up against you, I have to speak your language. And it is not a language of care. It’s a language of ego, and entitlement. In my short time in comedy I’ve learned this is the language of getting noticed, being listened to. You have to believe you are important enough to say things publicly, no matter how people feel about those things you say. So that is what I’m doing.

So you can imagine how angry I got at myself for caring when I read your recent “leaked” jokes about school shooting survivors, Asian and Black penises, how inconvenient it is for you to use gender neutral pronouns, and well, you know the rest, they’re your jokes.

Except they’re not, really. You didn’t say anything in your set I haven’t heard from a shitty open mic-er who thinks he’s going to shock the world with his brilliant take on “sad/ugly strippers” or how “homeless people are annoying.” I mean, come on, Louie. Do you have any material about women being crazy, or how you were jerking off the other day? Oh, wait (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

I’m not even mad at the material. I’m mad that it’s not funny. You killed when you told those jokes, but you know exactly why. You could say anything to your fans, and you will kill. It doesn’t have to be good, but it still should be.

I’m not mad at the jokes, but I am mad that they came from you, and that they weren’t better. I’m mad that the only reason those garbage jokes are even being talked about is because you violated women. Every little thing you do now will be scrutinized, because you violated women. I know that is killing you, but now you’re using your anger to kill comedy, and I’m mad. I dreaded hearing your new material, because I dreaded the moment it would make me laugh. I honestly didn’t think it would upset me more that it didn’t.

You were never my hero, because there are no heroes. I don’t believe in the hero/monster binary because I believe all of us are capable of doing kind things and empowering others. I also believe we are all capable of being garbage. Especially comedians.

I don’t respect you for violating women and I don’t respect you for barely holding yourself accountable.

I do respect you as a fucking comedian who is experienced and funny. The only reason I hope to ever be in the same room with you is because I want to be good enough to get where you are. And I suspect if that pipe dream ever comes true, you will still be there.

I know you’ve done the bare minimum by apologizing for your crimes. But I’m honestly asking you to do something else. If you’re going to keep doing comedy, at the very least, can you do the fucking work?

If you want to impact women in comedy positively, don’t use your popularity to set the bar so low that an extra 50 dipshits a year think they can do stand up. Maybe be so undeniably funny that a nobody like me wouldn’t even dare criticize your material. Be the R Kelly of comedy. This is your Ignition moment.

I don’t give a fuck what you joke about, or what offensive words you use. I don’t even care if you make jokes about sexual assault. Remember? I can’t care.

But if you’re going to be around, make it funny enough that it could kill in a room full of people who don’t know or care who you are. Tell a joke that I hate myself for laughing at.

Violating women is not unique. It’s rampant. There are others just like you, growing like mold in the dark crevices of the comedy scene. I’ll have to work with them, and watch my back, and hear their mediocre jokes as long as I do this. Whether you like it or not, you’re an example now by choosing to be in public. So maybe don’t be mediocre.

I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to expect you to set an example of morality, but I do think it’s fair to expect you to set an example of striving to be excellent in your craft. I know you’re mad. I’m mad too. Go to therapy. Maybe you don’t have to be totally terrible for the rest of you life.

So can you do that, at least? Set the bar high. Do the thing you fucking do well. Especially if you’re going to be taking up space where so many women want to be. Because honestly, that is what is truly offensive.

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