An Open Letter to the Comedy Community Regarding Louis CK and Acme Comedy Co

Cw: sexual harassment, abuse.

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In late 2017, it became national news via an article in the New York Times that Louis CK had participated in acts of harassment and sexual misconduct over many years against at least five women. In a statement he made in response in November of 2017 after years of denying these women’s statements, he acknowledged that these women’s experiences were true, and said he was committed to “taking a step back and taking a long time to listen.” It appears that “long time” ended in December of 2018 when he took to the stage again and proceeded to perform a set that included jokes that made it clear he had NOT listened. He is now set to include Minneapolis in his comeback tour and Acme Comedy Co has agreed to provide him a headlining spot eight times this week to aid him in that comeback.

FairPlay MN is an organization dedicated to building, claiming and protecting equitable spaces for womxn, trans, femme and non-binary comedians in the Twin Cities. Our primary goal has always been prevention and education/awareness. In order to fulfill our mission and goals, we must ensure that our performance spaces are free of individuals who have demonstrated dangerous and predatory behaviors in the past, particularly when those people have been removed from other theaters or creative platforms for that very behavior.

With that being said, we object to and are disappointed that a creative platform is being provided for Louis CK in our community. We urge the greater comedy community to honor and respect womxn, trans, femme and non-binary comedians AND audience members by not continuing to support and book known abusers. We also urge those in power at theaters and clubs to refrain from granting them a platform when their track record demonstrates that they have used that platform and their privilege as a way to manipulate and actively hurt others. To be clear, we’re aware that Acme Comedy Co isn’t the only local venue hosting known abusers.

Something we are frequently asked is “when is a person able to move past their mistakes?” or “when is someone considered forgiven for harassment?” And frankly, we don’t have an answer to that yet. There is a precedent in this country of harassers offering quick, insincere and half-hearted apology statements as a way to remedy years of poor behavior, and then continuing to act the way they always have. Louis CK is no exception to that pattern. There is not, however, any precedent for what it looks like to actually make radical change and repair the damages you have caused in your own community. If Louis CK wants to be the person to set this precedent, he is welcome to do so, but none of his actions thus far have demonstrated any interest or willingness in doing that work.

Every step we take as an organization is to better our community and change the way we understand our relationships with one another. Part of bettering our community is protecting it from those who have the ability to damage its members. If you would like to contact Acme Comedy Co to express your concerns about their decision to host Louis CK, you can do so by calling (612) 338-6393 or joining the scheduled protest (event in comments).

Lastly, one of the most powerful ways you can take a stand against abusers being given space in our community is by supporting underrepresented comedians on our stages. Comedians that are womxn, trans, femme, non-binary and people of color have shows every night this week and deserve your attention. We strongly encourage your support of them — we as a community get to dictate the voices we want to hear. Let’s elevate better voices.

Sally Foster, Lizzie Gardner, and Rana May
FairPlay MN Leadership Team

 

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Note: Remember, if you are experiencing or know about abusers in our local comedy community, you can always reach out to us at fairplaymn@gmail.com for help, or click “contact” on our website.

You can also support FairPlay’s mission monetarily by sharing our fundraiser to bring restorative justice training to the Twin Cities comedy community. https://www.gofundme.com/star-training-for-fairplay-mn