‘Every Single Famous Comedian’ Refused to Participate in New Louis C.K. Documentary
“These stories are true.”
That was Louis C.K.’s official response back in 2017 after The New York Times published a story in which five women comics accused C.K. of exposing himself and masturbating in front of them. “There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am,” he wrote in a statement published in Entertainment Weekly. “Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with.”
But despite Louis C.K. himself admitting that the accusations were true, people are apparently still hesitant to speak on the record about the comic’s behavior. A new documentary about Louis C.K., Sorry/Not Sorry, debuted Sunday night at the Toronto International Film Festival. But it isn’t everything its producers hoped it would be. "Every single famous comedian" the team approached to speak about C.K.'s actions declined to participate in the film, according to its producer Kathleen Lingo. That includes women who spoke out in 2017 but have decided they no longer want to comment publicly.
"I think the thing that really stands out in my mind … is how many women who had spoken out around 2017, when we reapproached them 2020-2021 declined, which is sort of a sobering reality and it also just goes to show the bravery of the women who are in the film," Lingo said according to an EW report. "Looking back at the #MeToo movement now in the rearview mirror and everyone's always asking, 'Are things better? Are things worse?' It's really hard to have a blanket sort of assessment, but just the fact that the women, who at that moment felt this sense of promise, to now not feel that anymore I think is quite dark."
One more voice not included in the documentary, unsurprisingly, is Louis C.K. himself. His career — while not at the very top of the comedy pyramid as he arguably was prior to the Times article — has been doing just fine, thanks. He’s conducted successful world tours, popped up on stage with Dave Chappelle, and 2021’s Sorry won a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.
Spoiler alert: That album reveals the comic was not all that sorry. Comedy bits about receiving sexual interest from younger women didn’t help. “His public statement of remorse in 2017 was widely criticized for failing to include the words sorry or apologize,” according to an analysis in The Conversation. “In titling his new special Sorry, he has opened himself to renewed criticism for a seemingly flippant treatment of the harm that he caused.”
Showtime dropped its planned backing and subsequent showing of Sorry/Not Sorry back in June. That decision raises a couple of questions: Did Showtime back away because the film’s producers couldn’t secure the prominent faces it needed for the documentary to have a real impact? Or is Showtime simply another voice that, for whatever reasons, has decided it no longer wants to be part of the Louis C.K. conversation?