Jerry Seinfeld: Why Louis C.K. Isn’t Making His Comeback in the Right Way

C.K. has recently reemerged at New York comedy clubs, but Seinfeld says the comedian isn't doing himself favors in the court of public opinion.
Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K. at the 10th Anniversary of Stand Up for Heroes.
Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K. at the 10th Anniversary of Stand Up for Heroes.
Stephen Lovekin/Shutterstock

Jerry Seinfeld weighed in on Louis C.K.’s stand-up comeback during an interview with The New York Times. Since the end of August, C.K. has popped up at various New York City comedy clubs to perform sets, which mark his first high-profile public appearances since admitting to sexual misconduct last fall. C.K.’s return has sparked a national debate over whether accused men should be welcomed back into their professions.

When asked if it was “too soon” for C.K. to be performing again, Seinfeld responded, “No. It’s the way he did it that I think people didn’t like. Some people didn’t like that he’s doing it at all. We know the routine: The person does something wrong. The person’s humiliated. They’re exiled. They suffer, we want them to suffer. We love the tumble, we love the crash and bang of the fall. And then we love the crawl-back. The grovel. Are you going to grovel? How long are you going to grovel? Are you going to cry?”

“People, I think, figured they had that coming with Louie — he owes us that,” Seinfeld said, referring to C.K. owning up to his actions and speaking openly and honestly about them. “We, the court of public opinion, decided if he’s going to come back, he’d better show a lot of pain. Because he denied them that.”

C.K. did not address his sexual misconduct in his first set at the Comedy Cellar on August 26. The comedian did not allude to his history of sexual harassment onstage until recently, when at an October 10 stand-up gig at the West Side Comedy Club he said he has been to “hell and back” and lost $35 million. “It’s been a weird year,” C.K. added. Even in this set, C.K. did not explicitly talk about his behavior or even apologize.

“I can’t say what he should do,” Seinfeld said when asked if C.K. should be back on stage. “You do whatever you want. If he does it wrong, he’s going to suffer. And that’s his deal.”

Seinfeld continued, “If there’s a crime here, and the law gets involved, that’s what the law is for. The laws of comedy, we kind of make them up as we go. Part of entertainment, sometimes, is the life of the person. We want that to entertain us, too, as part of the act. We like your show, and then we like your messed-up life. That entertains us as well. When you saw Richard Pryor, it was more than just the act. You’re in the room with this guy who lived this crazy life. Somebody said it’s the first time that someone has misbehaved where all people ask about is, ‘How’s the perpetrator? How’s he doing?’ They don’t ask, “How’s the victim?'”

Seinfeld is currently the host of Netflix’s talk series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee,” which premiered its most recent season over the summer.

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