In such a time of political turbulence and trial by public opinion, comedy is in an interesting position. The longstanding belief was that nothing was off limits for a comic if presented correctly, but scandals involving prominent comedians have shifted the conversation. The peak of this is, of course, Louis C.K., who admitted to multiple incidents of sexual misconduct back in November. While his movie, I Love You, Daddy (which is said to feature scenes and situations similar to those of which C.K. is accused), appears dead in the water and the comic hasn’t been heard from since the fall, some predict that his career may not in fact be over.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter on the state of stand-up, Live Nation’s president of comedy Geof Wills touched on the potential for C.K.’s comeback. “Without question,” he answered when asked if he believed a revival was possible. “Look, he was always — I don’t know what the right term is — this sort of rough, dirty dog, and his fans loved him for being that guy — maybe because they were a little bit that guy, too?”
That said, Wills insinuated that any comeback would not bring the same level of fame C.K. once had. “It might not be worldwide acceptance [when he does return]; that said, Louis has his own platform to put out his stuff. He did it before and it was a huge success. And he’d be successful if he did a tenth of what he once did.”
By comparison, Wills is currently booking Kathy Griffin’s comeback tour. Griffin faced major public backlash after a photo of her holding a fake decapitated Donald Trump head surfaced last summer. Wills says “the dates have sold very well,” adding, “Sometimes [going away] for a minute is a good idea.”
But while he sees how someone with C.K.’s history of sexual misconduct or Griffin’s shocking antics could return to the stage, he’s less convinced someone like Roseanne Barr would fare well on the road. “I don’t know whether [people would] actually show up,” he said. “She’s a racist. It’s horrific.”