Sometimes you can't kill your heroes, even if you might want to
“Kill your heroes” is a motto that I have tried to live by for quite some time. But it turns out this isn’t as easy to do when you see them in the flesh.
Louis C.K. performed six shows this weekend at the Funny Bone in Columbus, with a seventh scheduled for tonight. This is a little more than a year after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against the comedian, which C.K. later verified were true. Even so, the shows sold out in near-record time. And this in the same city that recently bankrupted a popular brewery after finding out its founder had conducted himself in a similar fashion.
As a staff member of the club in which C.K. performed, I got to see the majority of four weekend sets.
The entire affair felt secretive, yet still out in the open. Tickets were not allowed to be released to the public until three days prior to the first show. A third-party company confiscated electronics from all attendees, including cell phones. It was like a speakeasy during the prohibition era. You were going to see the show, but you were seemingly being sworn to secrecy about it.
The audience received the comic incredibly well, giving him standing ovations each time he got on stage and again when he departed. Do we treat him differently because he possesses unique skill? Thousands of people aspire to be famous comedians, but few attain the level of Louis C.K. The idea of separating the art from the artist seems to be a debate as hotly contested in this current culture as the separation of church and state. Is it even possible anymore?
C.K. was good. That much is easy to say. I felt guilty laughing at his brilliantly constructed jokes while weaving through the tables in the dark. He addressed his situation only briefly, each show changing the tone and weight of his words to see how much he could get away with. I can’t honestly say whether or not I believe he feels remorse for what he has done, or if he is simply angry with how far he has fallen. But he has found a way to make it funny. And the audience response proved as much.
No matter where you stand on the issue, it was inevitable Louis C.K. was going to be back. And this weekend was a test.
Sometimes we can’t kill our heroes.