(Sing to the mournful tune of the “Louis” theme song:) Louie Louie Louie! Louie Louie Louie! Louie Louie Louie! Louie you’re gonna cry.
We’re in full-throttle Elul now, just weeks before the High Holidays begin in earnest, and yet another man has announced that the time has come to forgive him. It’s been fewer than nine months since comedian Louis C.K. admitted to sexually harassing five women, and he’s apparently done living in disgrace and prepared to return to his role as mega-millionaire prophet and consecrated comedy king, preaching from such stages as Madison Square Gardens, HBO, Netflix, and Saturday Night Live.
C.K. performed at his old haunt, Greenwich Village’s Comedy Cellar, on Sunday night. It was his first known public performance since he admitted to repeated instances of sexual misconduct in a statement on November 10, 2017. Said Noam Dworman, the club’s longtime owner, of the comedian’s comeback, “I didn’t think it was going to happen as soon as it did.”
C.K.’s mea culpa came in response to accusations leveled against him by five women in the New York Times in November. The dates range from 2002 to 2005. “These stories are true,” C.K. said in the statement. Yet rumors about this exact behavior by C.K. have circulated since as early as the incidents themselves. One month before the Times article (also, notably, before reporting on Harvey Weinstein launched the #MeToo movement,) a writer for the Times asked C.K. about the stories of his alleged sexual misconduct. “They’re rumors, that’s all that is,” he said.
Can we forgive a person who committed serial sexual misconduct? And if we do allow a person to do teshuva — to repent and return — how long should they spend in exile first?
Well, let’s look at the numbers.
5 is the number of women who accused Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct.
15 are the years that went by between Louis C.K.’s first known incident of sexual misconduct and the day he admitted it.
5 is the number of seasons of his eponymous TV show Louis CK wrote, produced, and starred in during that time. 61 is the number of episodes. 7 is the number of standup specials he shot during that time. 4 is the number of times he hosted “Saturday Night Live.”
$5 million is the amount paid for the distribution rights for “I Love You Daddy,” C.K.’s film about sexual power dynamics featuring jokes about masturbating in front of others, which was never released due to his scandal.
In 2009, C.K. sent a private apology message to Abby Schachner, one of the victims of his misconduct. That was 6 years after the incident in which he used a business phone call with Schachner as an opportunity to masturbate and describe his sexual fantasies.
If C.K. wants to see a timeline for his own rehabilitation, he should check out the timeline he created for his own career. He gave himself three years for instances of sexual misconduct, and one and a half decades for concealing his secret while growing his career.
In the almost nine months allotted for his penance, his daughters haven’t even gone up one grade.
Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny