Louis CK has been awarded the Best Comedy Album at the 2022 Grammys, despite having confirmed the allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment a few years earlier.
The comedian admitted in 2017 that reports from a variety of different women who claimed that he had masturbated in front of them without their consent were all true.
This is everything you need to know.
Who is Louis CK?
CK, whose real name is Louis Székely, is an American comedian, actor, writer and director, best known for his comedy-drama series Louis, his stand-up specials like Shameless, (2007) Live at the Beacon Theatre (2011) and Oh My God (2015), and appearances in films like American Hustle, Blue Jasmine and Trumbo
CK was born on 12 September 1967 in Washington, D.C, and first tried his hand at stand up comedy in 1985, at an open mic night at a comedy club in Boston. Over the course of the years, CK continued to work the comedy circuit and eventually worked up to gigs hosting comedy clubs and shows that included opening for Jerry Seinfeld.
In 2006, CK wrote and starred in his own HBO sitcom Lucky Louie, however it was cancelled after its first season. In 2007, he was part of Opie and Anthony’s Travelling Virus Comedy Tour with a number of other comedians as well.
He launched his first one-hour special, Shameless, in 2007 which aired on HBO and the following year recorded his second hour long special Chewed Up which was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy or Variety Special.
His series, Louie, was picked up by FX in 2009, a show which saw the comedian be nominated five times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series from 2011 to 2015.
CK’s other credits include voicing Max in The Secret Life of Pets, starring as Horace in TV mini series Horace & Pete and as Dave Sanderson on sitcom Parks and Recreation.
He also wrote, directed and starred in the film I Love You, Daddy, which starred Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, The Miseducation of Cameron Post), John Malkovich (Dangerous Liaisons, Space Force), Charlie Day (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Horrible Bosses), Helen Hunt (As Good As It Gets, Twister) and Edie Falco (The Sopranos, Nurse Jackie).
What are the allegations against him?
While rumours of CK’s behaviour had been circulating for years, it was in 2017 that The New York Times released a report in which a number of women came forward to say that CK had used his position and influence in the comedy world to sexually harass and intimidate them.
The reports of the five women, whose experiences spanned from the mid-90s to 2005, recounted how CK either asked them to watch him masturbate, or forced them to.
Comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov told the news outlet that, in 2002, they were invited to CK’s hotel room after performing at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen.
As soon as they got to his room, they said that CK asked if he could take out his penis. The women, thinking it was a joke, laughed it off.
Goodman said: “And then he really did it. He proceeded to take all of his clothes off, and get completely naked, and started masturbating.”
Rebecca Corry, another comedian, told the New York Times in a written statement that when she was acting and producing a TV pilot which CK was guest starring on, CK “leaned in close to my face and said, “Can I ask you something?”” and, after saying yes, CK asked “if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me”.
Corry said that after saying no, she pointed out that, at the time, CK had a daughter and a pregnant wife.
“His face got red,” Corry said, “and he told me he had issues.”
A number of other women recounted similar experiences in the report.
What did Louis CK say about the allegations?
The day after the report from the New York Times went public, CK issued a statement in which he said that the stories recounted by the women were, in fact, true.
He said: “I want to address the stories told to the New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not.
“These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my dick 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 dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”
CK said in the statement that he is “remorseful” of his actions and that he has “tried to learn from them”.
“There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with,” he said.
CK ended the statement by saying: “I’ve brought pain to my family, my friends, my children and their mother.
"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.”
For the most part, CK removed himself from the public eye for a short period, with networks like HBO, FX and Netflix all severing ties with the comedian.
In August of 2018, CK made a surprise appearance at the Comedy Cellar in Manhattan, in which he received a standing ovation from the audience. He performed a regular stand up set with no references made to the sexual abuse.
In 2019, he announced in an email to people who had subscribed to his website that he was going to be embarking on a new international tour, however in March 2020, most of his shows were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since then, he has released two comedy specials, announced the rescheduled international tour dates in 2022 and appeared in a docu-series called The Comedy Store about the LA comedy club of the same name.
What happened at the Grammys?
At the 2022 Grammy Awards, CK was awarded Best Comedy Album for his 2020 album Sincerely Louis CK, which he released on his website with no prior warning or announcements, after embarking on a 2019 comeback tour.
In the special, CK addresses the allegations that came to light and jokes about the experience of the subsequent fallout.
CK is greeted with a standing ovation in the special, where he immediately addresses the elephant in the room.
He asks the crowd: “How was your last couple of years? How was 2018 and 2019 for you guys? Anybody else get in global amounts of trouble?”
CK continues: “I learned a lot. I learned how to eat alone in a restaurant with people giving me the finger from across the room.”
He also explains why he did what he did, saying: “I like jerking off, I don’t like being alone, that’s all I can tell you. I get lonely, it’s just sad. I like company. I like to share.
“I’m good at it, too. If you’re good at juggling, you wouldn’t do it alone in the dark. You’d gather folks and amaze them.”
In the special, CK also says: “You all have your thing. I don’t know what your thing is. You’re so f**king lucky that I don’t know what your thing is.
“Do you understand how lucky you are? That people don’t know your f**king thing? ’Cause everybody knows my thing. Everybody knows my f**king thing now.”
CK was not present at the ceremony in Las Vegas to collect the award, and has not made any public statement regarding his win.
Also nominated for the Best Comedy Album category was:
- The Comedy Vaccine by Lavell Crawford
- Evolution by Chelsea Handler
- Thanks for Risking Your Life by Lewis Black
- The Greatest Average American by Nate Bargatze
- Zero F**ks Given by Kevin Hart
Regarding the controversy around some of the nominees this year, which, alongside CK, included Kanye West, who has faced backlash regarding the harassment of ex-wife Kim Kardashian, and Marilyn Manson, who has had a number of sexual assault allegations raised against him over the years, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr said that the Recording Academy doesn’t take personal histories into account when determining the eligibility of potential nominees.
He said: “We won’t restrict the people who can submit their material for consideration.
“We won’t look back at people’s history, we won’t look at their criminal record, we won’t look at anything other than the legality within our rules of, is this recording for this work eligible based on date and other criteria.
“If it is, they can submit for consideration.”
What has the response been like?
Following the award, the Grammys has faced considerable backlash online, with many taking to Twitter to express their views.
One person wrote: “Louis CK just won a whole ass Grammy while y’all are either calling for Will Smith’s head or crying about cancel culture. There are no consequences for white cishet men.”
Another tweeted: “Louis CK won a Grammy for best comedy album and the Grammy for best rap song went to Kanye West “Jail” which featured Marilyn Manson. There is no such thing as cancel culture when men abuse women. If Weinstein wasn’t in jail, he’d probably already be producing movies again.”
“Louis CK complaining about being “cancelled” is so hilariously hollow when he gets rewarded for being a monster after ADMITTING he did those things. I’d ask if the Grammys could sink lower but we all know they have and will continue to,” wrote another.
Producer and writer Carina Mackenzie tweeted: “Louis CK just won a Grammy, in case you were still crying about cancel culture.”
Guardian US columnist Moira Donegan wrote: “I wonder if the careers of the women comedians Louis CK forced to watch him masturbate - who were allegedly threatened by CK’s manager - have recovered from the stigma of coming forward. Louis CK’s own career seems to have bounced back very well.”
Video game developer Brianna Wu also tweeted: “Louis CK just won a Grammy, so I don’t want to hear any more whining about cancel culture. Men can sexually prey on women, the victims can have their careers and confidence destroyed, it can all go public - and there will still be no real consequences.”
Trial lawyer Max Kennerly posted: “Louis CK already won it twice before. This album isn’t different from his prior work, except the part where he suggests he deserves sympathy “because everybody knows my thing”. No reason for the Academy to give him this award except to send a message that he did nothing wrong.”
In an opinion piece for Vogue, writer Emma Specter wrote: “Hey, remember that whole thing about how we can’t hold celebrities accused of sexual abuse and harassment accountable for their actions, because it amounts to “canceling” them and they’ll never work again and their lives will effectively be over?
“Well, it’s probably time to stop banging that particular drum, because Louis C.K.—about whom allegations had made the rounds in comedy circles for years, and who was accused of sexual misconduct by five different women in 2017—just won a Grammy for best comedy album.”