Disgraced comedian Louis CK made a joke about the Holocaust while giving a set earlier this week outside Tel Aviv, immediately sparking outrage online. C.K. has been trying to launch a comeback since admitting to sexual misconduct with several women.
According to The Associated Press, C.K’s Israeli fans had nearly packed a basketball stadium, eager for his return. During the beginning of his set, he asked the audience, “How have your last couple of years been?” before telling an anecdote about someone giving him the finger from across a restaurant for the entirety of his meal.
Later, he acknowledged his sexual misconduct, saying it had been a mistake, according to AP. “If they say ‘yes,’ then still don’t do it, because it’s not popular,” he said.
One of his accusers denied his behavior was consensual in a recent op-ed.
At one point, the comedian said he used to love New York City, but now he hates it.
“I’d rather be in Auschwitz than New York City,” he said to laughter and applause. “I mean now, not when it was open.”
While the audience seemed to respond positively to the comment, the social media backlash was swift.
“Perhaps he should have thought about this before he did all the sexual misconducting and harassing?” author Molly Jong-Fast tweeted Friday.
“The only thing more pitiful than what Louis CK has become are those who’ll continue to pretend he’s Hilarious! Edgy! Fearless! because he serves their obsessive trigger-the-left purposes,” athlete and writer Alheli Picazo said.
In November 2017, the 52-year-old’s comedy career came to a halt after he admitted to sexually harassing several women following a bombshell report in The New York Times. Most of the complaints involved him masturbating in the presence of women who knew him professionally, many of whom hesitated to come forward for fear of the situation ruining their careers.
“These stories are true,” C.K. said in a statement following the report. He acknowledged that he took advantage of his powerful position in the entertainment industry, but failed to publicly apologize.
The comedian vowed to “step back and take a long time to listen,” but is now traveling for an international tour. According to AP, a small protest took place outside his first show in Tel Aviv, organized by Kulan, a local women’s advocacy group.
Bracha Barad, the group’s director, said those attending the show were “normalizing sexual violence.”
During his show Thursday, around 5,000 people attended, many of whom reportedly felt his misconduct was not severe enough to justify boycotting the show.
“We don’t support what he did to those women, but we like him as a comedian,” one fan told AP. “It’s not like he raped someone.”
Another said that seeing C.K. was like “supporting animal rights and still eating meat.”