Whenever we need someone to tell it like it is, Tasmania’s own Hannah Gadsby is there. In a recent interview, Gadsby calls out disgraced comedian Louis C.K. for not working towards redemption.
Following on from the runaway success of her genre-defying comedy special, Nanette, Gadsby is out on the road again, internationally touring her new show, Douglas.
In an interview with IndieWire this week, Gadsby uses her newfound success to comment on fallen comedian Louis C.K. and his attempted comeback: “Well, he can stop calling people the r-word, he can stop feeling sorry for himself.”
A survivor of sexual abuse herself, Gadsby rejects the notion that once a public figure has been called out for their behaviour, there is nowhere for them to go,
“There’s a clear path to redemption, he’s just not taking it. He’s being self-indulgent and he’s being a cry baby. That’s not a path to redemption, that’s just throwing a tantrum for the tantrum itself.”
Power and Privilege
In November of 2017, C.K. faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct as part of the #MeToo movement. C.K. admitted to perpetrating these acts, which included masturbating in front of female comedians at their workplaces, and entered a hiatus in which he pledged to reflect on his actions.
However, he returned to stand-up only a year later, with his leaked material including transphobic jokes and disrespectful material about the teenage survivors of the Parkland shooting. In very poor taste, C.K. also made jokes involving masturbation. His choice of topics indicates that he hasn’t done much of the promised soul-searching during his year away from the microphone.
This isn’t the first time that Gadsby has addressed C.K’s ongoing career controversy. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times back in June, Gadsby said of the disgraced comedian, “He is a joke now”.
“And I think it’s important to keep making that joke. He has not reassessed his position of power, and that is why he was able to abuse it. It’s difficult to see a shift in your own power and privilege. It’s not something we’re trained to do. He still honestly thinks he’s the victim in all of this…
If you’re used to controlling a narrative and then you’re witnessing it go to a different place, you will not let go. He’s a trapped man. He’s doing his comedy from a position of defensiveness.”
Redemption and Representation
Gadsby is up for two Emmys for Nanette, the Netflix special that turned Gadsby from a comedian about to call it quits, to an international household name. The show deals with Gadsby’s own personal experiences of sexism, homophobia and assaults. Much has been made about the special’s inspirational, comedy-redefining power. Nanette is at once introspective, hilarious, shocking and deeply moving. Gadsby proves that you can speak from a position as a marginalised person without making yourself the butt of the joke.
As a comedian on the opposite side of the discussion to someone like Louis C.K., Gadsby is in a unique position to comment on his “redemption”, or lack thereof.
IndieWire asked whether other accused comedians, such as TJ Miller or Aziz Ansari, had a path to redemption as well.
“You can apply it to anyone. I just think there’s an issue at large, and it goes across all issues of representation. I think because we think about men as the default, they don’t know how to let other people talk about their experiences without centring themselves. And that runs deeper than two lonely comedians.”
Gadsby’s new show, Douglas, is set for a 2020 Netflix release.
Subscribe to FIB’s newsletter for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!