Comedian Louis C.K., who fell from grace after admitting in November 2017 that he had serially masturbated in front of various women, is back in the news after audio footage of his new material leaked online. The set, performed at a Long Island comedy club called Governor's on December 16, at various points mocks the Parkland kids, takes young people to task for being preoccupied with gender pronouns, and discusses the dick sizes of various ethnic groups.
In other words, the new stuff is pretty much exactly in line with Louis C.K.'s previous material, which was equally dedicated to the slaughter of sacred cows. His 2008 special, Chewed Up, for instance, opened with him using the word "faggot"—he moved onto the c-word and the n-word shortly thereafter—and ended with him joking about masturbating on 9/11.
You might not think this kind of humor is funny, and that's fine. Moreover, you might think Louis C.K., who initiated sexual situations with unwilling women, is a creepy person who has lost the right to joke about uncomfortable subjects. That's also fine. But it would be silly to pretend that Louis C.K. has undergone some sort of change or deliberate pivot. He's just doing his same old shtick.
But many in the media have seized upon the idea that Louis C.K. has suddenly became a right-winger—that his new material is some dramatic departure from his pre-scandal days as a woke comedy icon. "Audio of a New Louis C.K. Set Has Leaked, and It's Sickening," warns Slate, striking the tone of a nun listening to Eminem for the first time. The Daily Beast accuses Louis C.K. of "pandering to the alt-right," which is quite the broad categorization; the tons of people—New Yorkers, presumably—who can be heard laughing in the background of the leaked footage would probably be surprised to learn that they take their cues from Richard Spencer.
I can't recall very many people on the left complaining that Louis C.K. was pandering to pedophiles when he joked about normalizing child rape so that rapists would be more likely to let their child victims live. On the contrary, GQ placed that joke on its list of the 10 best Louis C.K. skits, hailing him as the most transgressive and celebrated comedian "of his generation."
Those who suddenly find themselves balking at Louis C.K.'s edgy material should admit that the comedian didn't really change. They did.