Was there a Men of #MeToo conference we didn’t know about? Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, and Aziz Ansari — three stars who have grappled with sexual-misconduct scandals — reemerged within days of each other, perhaps with the hope of putting their respective allegations in the rearview mirror.
Louis C.K. made a surprise appearance at the Comedy Cellar in New York City on Sunday night, performing a 15-minute set that touched on what owner Noam Dworman called “typical Louis C.K. stuff” — racism, waitresses’ tips, and parades.
“It sounded just like he was trying to work out some new material, almost like any time of the last 10 years he would come in at the beginning of a new act,” he told the New York Times.
Sunday marked the comedian’s return to the stage since admitting to sexual misconduct last year. In November 2017, five women came forward accusing him in a New York Times piece of sexual harassment. The Emmy winner exposed himself and masturbated in front of several women in the comedy world on multiple occasions.
“These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was OK because I never showed a woman my d*** without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d*** isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them,” he said in a statement last year. “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
A “long time” is about nine months, apparently.
Ansari also debuted new comedy sketches this weekend, months after a date accused him of assault in an anonymous Babe.net story. As you might recall, the article ended up being quite controversial. Many called it reckless, as it was not an investigative report and was strikingly different than other headline-making stories around the time, accusing the likes of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey of sexual assault. Still, Ansari retreated from the spotlight despite denying the woman’s claims. (The Master of None star admitted that he and the woman engaged in “sexual activity, which by all indications was completely consensual,” but said that when he “heard that it was not the case for her, I was surprised and concerned.”)
The comedian has quietly been performing in recent months, and crowds seem more than ready to accept him. A Vulture reporter who was in the audience over the weekend detailed the scene:
“If you didn’t know about the controversy, you wouldn’t have realized that this was the beginning stage of Ansari’s reemergence from it. My sense during the show was that the crowd was aware of the saga, but not judgmental about it. A woman sitting in front of me told me she saw it as ‘very low on the scale of ‘bad date’ to ‘Harvey Weinstein.'”
Ansari’s material did not address the incident or #MeToo.
We’d be curious to hear where the woman at Ansari’s show would put Matt Lauer on her scale. The disgraced journalist made a rare appearance alongside his estranged wife on Sunday — and it sounds like it might not have been a coincidence that he was “caught” by the paparazzi. The former Today show host is supposedly plotting a comeback.
Page Six reports that Lauer was overheard telling fans that his return to TV was imminent. “A group of older ladies came over to Lauer, saying, ‘We miss you!’” the source claimed, to which Lauer apparently responded, “I’ve been busy being a dad. But don’t worry, I’ll be back on TV.”
Do audiences want him back, though? Time will tell. But there are probably more than a few men in the entertainment industry watching how a couple of these potential career comebacks play out.
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