In November of 2017, the #MeToo movement was still in its infancy, and many had yet to fully grasp the severity of the abuses of power that led so many women in Hollywood to band together.
These days, Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby -- both of whom had reputations for predatory behavior long before they were finally held responsible for their actions -- are both facing jail time, while perpetrators of less appalling misconduct are prematurely seeking a path to redemption.
Louis C.K. falls into the latter category.
Whispers about the comic's predatory behavior were not as widespread as they were in the cases of Weinstein or Cosby, but many within the industry were sadly not surprised to learn that C.K. was in the habit of masturbating in front of female comics.
Often, the women accompanied C.K. to a private location after an industry event under the impression that he intended to offer them career advice -- a tactic that's not unfamiliar to many of Weinstein's victims.
On at least one occasion, C.K. blocked the exit to prevent his victim from escaping.
We can discuss C.K.'s behavior without using the "alleged" qualifier, as the comic has confessed that the accounts of the five women who came forward are accurate.
Needless to say, that's the sort of conduct that typically brings an end to one's career in the public eye -- which is why so many were stunned to learn that C.K. made a surprise return to the world of standup last night.
C.K. took the stage at New York's famed Comedy Cellar last night, performing a short set that focused on observations on day-to-day life and kept a safe distance from social commentary.
In an interview with the New York Times, club owner Noan Dworman defended his decision to spring C.K. on the audience with a surprise performance:
"It sounded just like he was trying to work out some new material, almost like any time of the last 10 years he would come in at the beginning of a new act," Dworman said.
He added that the unannounced show was "typical Louis CK stuff" with jokes about racism, waitresses' tips, and the absurdity of parades.
“It was very ordinary for him,” Dworman added.
He also noted that C.K. received “sustained applause" from the audience.
"It was a good reception. He went through an everyday list of jokes," said the owner.
On social media, the consensus is that it's much too soon for C.K. to attempt a comeback and it was in poor taste to make his return in front of an audience that wasn't expecting him.
However, a handful of comics who regard C.K. as a mentor have defended the decision:
"Will take heat for this, but people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives," tweeted Michael Ian Black.
"I don't know if it's been long enough, or his career will recover, or if people will have him back, but I'm happy to see him try."
As many have pointed out, C.K. never served any time, and he's likely relying on the goodwill of people like Black to help ease his transition back into the spotlight.
Only time will tell if that strategy will be successful.