We're a month away from the one year anniversary of the #MeToo movement, which sparked online after the New York Times printed allegations of sexual misconduct against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. In the wake of his downfall, countless other women came forward with similar stories of harassment and assault. Comedian Louis C.K. was initially accused by five women of misconduct. TV host Matt Lauer was accused of harassment and misconduct in a report by Variety. Comedian Aziz Ansari was accused of misconduct in an anonymous account published by Babe.net. In the past 24 hours, all three of these men have begun their possible comeback.
The latest news came from the New York Times on Monday night, reporting that C.K. had returned to the Comedy Cellar for the first time since the accusations ten months ago. Before going underground, the comedian frequently dropped by the New York comedy club to work on material. Noam Dworman, the owner of the club, told the NYT that C.K. stopped by on Sunday night around 11 p.m. and told 15 minutes of "typical Louis C.K. stuff." He reportedly received a standing ovation when he went on stage.
It appears the other comedians performing that night were unaware of C.K.'s pending appearance. One patron reportedly called the club on Monday to complain. “He wished he had known in advance, so he could’ve decided whether to have been there or not,” Dworman told The New York Times.
C.K.'s return comes just as Ansari is in the midst of his own reemergence. He was first spotted at the Comedy Cellar back in May — five months after he was accused — and has been working on new material ever since. On Monday, Vulture published an account of one of a series of hastily-announced shows the comedian did in Milwaukee last weekend. None of his reported material since his May return has addressed the controversy, and reps for the comedian did not respond to Refinery29's request for comment.
Outside the comedy world, Lauer is also planning a comeback. A source told Page Six that Lauer assured fans who approached him at Donohue’s Steak House in NYC that he'd be back soon after being fired by NBC in December.
"I’ve been busy being a dad," he reportedly told the group of older women. "But don’t worry, I’ll be back on TV." A rep for Lauer has not responded to Refinery29's request for specifics about his return.
While #MeToo's creation had us grappling with the sheer number of sexual misconduct allegations, its anniversary will bring with it a new kind of reckoning: What comes after? Will the accused be allowed to return to the careers that facilitated their alleged misconduct? And what amount of time and what level of penance, if any, permits a comeback?
If you have experienced sexual violence of any kind, please visit Rape Crisis or call 0808 802 9999.