Padma Lakshmi partnered with Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox last week to throw a comedy show in New York City in support of the Movement Voter Project. The show, which Lakshmi hosted, was inspired by an August tweet the “Top Chef” host posted in which she brought attention to numerous female, queer, and nonwhite comics who deserved to be in more of a spotlight than Louis C.K. Unsurprisingly, Lakshmi kicked off the event with a declaration: “I’ll make this brief: Fuck Louis C.K.”
“To be honest, I just couldn’t think of any other jokes. It was that lame,” Lakshmi told Vulture following the show. “I thought, ‘I’ll just say the same jokes that are short, and just warm [the audience] up for 30 seconds and then say thank you and get off. But maybe I’ll just use that little bit to say thank you, and just pivot and say, if it wasn’t for my ire about what happened, I would’ve never had this show tonight.’”
Lakshmi continued by addressing her real issue with C.K.’s recent comeback appearances at stand up clubs in New York City. According to Lakshmi, C.K.’s problem is “that he tried to stifle and bury the careers of various female comedians who called him out on his shit.”
“It’s just like, it’s so hard as a woman, as an actor, as a director, as a comedian, as a writer, to even get noticed,” Lakshmi said. “And then to have the courage and bravery to speak the truth, and be slapped down and punished for it in such a cruel way, really spoke to me.”
When asked if C.K. deserves to be back in the spotlight, Lakshmi said that redemption for a sexual harasser like the comedian is possible, but he hasn’t put in the requisite work to earn goodwill.
“I can recognize that Louis C.K., or Matt Lauer, or Charlie Rose are very talented men who are also predatory and abuse their power, and to my mind, haven’t really demonstrated any remorse or deeper understanding about what they did, or empathy for the people they did it to, and therein lies the problem,” Lakshmi said. “Show me what those types of men have done besides to try to pull off their own comeback? But from where I stand, I know a lot of women who need jobs. I know a lot of queer people who are funny as hell. I know a lot of people of color who would make fantastic romantic leads.”
Lakshmi’s comedy show, entitled “Padma Puts on a Comedy Show,” took place October 24 at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.