‘Sorry / Not Sorry’ is the Louis C.K. Documentary We Need. Mostly

Fascinating doc explores edgy comedian's downfall, cultural fallout

Louis C.K. went from comedic genius to social pariah, and he had no one but himself to blame.

The comic’s off-screen behavior, specifically exposing himself to female comedians, earned his professional cancellation. No ugly tweet or blackface shtick, mind you.

These were real-world actions that hurt people.

Except he refused to go away.

The documentary “Sorry/Not Sorry” examines C.K.’s fall from creative grace, from the rumors that dogged him for years to his shocking comeback.

Sorry/Not Sorry | Official Trailer

It’s a New York Times production, so the film suggests his cancellation should be permanent. The liberal newspaper is no friend to free speech in the modern era.

Just ask Sen. Tom Cotton.

The subject matter remains undeniably rich, and the crush of opinions and perspectives makes “Sorry/Not Sorry” an essential watch.

The film’s unexpected takeaway? C.K.’s downfall was another Weinstein moment. No, the comedian didn’t sexually prowl on starlets like the disgraced movie producer. The similarities remain stark for one simple reason.

Everyone knew. And no one spoke up.

Some of those who kept quiet appear in the film, like prolific TV producer Michael Schur of “Parks and Recreation” fame. He knew … something … but wouldn’t quit C.K.

Now, he has regrets.

“The Daily Show’s” Jon Stewart, steeped in comedy culture for the past two-plus decades, claims ignorance.

If lower-tier comics heard all the stories, how did they escape Stewart’s inner circle? And he’s hardly alone.

Blind items and backstage chatter pointed to C.K.’s dark side. He had talent, power and the ability to create projects from the ground up. So no one challenged him.


There’s something sociopathic about C.K.’s response to his actions. When cornered, he delivered a strong message that stopped short of him saying, “I’m sorry.” Critics pounced on that, but his statement hit all the major points.

Yet he never used his platform to expand on those themes. Instead, he quipped about the matter, refusing to engage with how a progressive comic hurt the women in his orbit.

His critics are right when they say he could have done so much more post-scandal. He’s also under no obligation to do so. He is a comedian. He’s there to make us laugh.

That’s his prerogative, but a comic with his skill set could have weaved something profound from his actions.

Sarah Silverman on Louis C.K.’s Return to Stand-up Comedy


Noam Dworman, owner of the Comedy Cellar. allowed C.K. back on stage at the start of his revival tour. The free speech warrior eloquently explains why a private business has every right to book whichever act it pleases.

“Sorry / Not Sorry” could have used a few more sober perspectives like his.

Watching woke comedian Michael Ian Black defend C.K. on artistic grounds only to swiftly backpedal says plenty about the current state of comedy and free speech.

The film downplays how C.K. reconstructed his comedy career, not with appearances on Colbert’s couch but via an email list and today’s podcast realm.

Another unexplored part of the film? One reason for C.K.’s shocking comeback has a Donald Trump connection. It’s ironic since C.K. was one of the first major stars to make the Trump/Hitler comparison. Yet it’s hard to deny he became a Trumpian symbol of Cancel Culture overreach.

Buying a C.K. ticket is a thumb in the eye to scolds who demand we cancel artists for any number of reasons.

Louis CK accuser speaks out on comedy's 'open secret'

“Sorry/Not Sorry” reveals the personalities behind some stand-up comics. They’re shown to be dark, biting and personally troubled. There’s an angst that fuels their humor.

Those tears of a clown are far too real.

Did C.K. have a tortured childhood? Did that fuel his insights and dysfunction? It might have been intriguing to learn more about the comedian’s background. He turned down an opportunity to defend himself in the film, but that’s not the only way a journalist can suss out the back story.

One comic says “white men” are allowed to come back from cancellation, noting how C.K. was able to sell out Madison Square Garden post-scandal. The film hits theaters shortly after Jonathan Majors’ comeback tour kicked off.


Meanwhile, Kevin Spacey has yet to restart his formerly red-hot career.

There’s something performative about the outrage on display in “Sorry / Not Sorry.” Why are some stars canceled and others aren’t? Why are some apologies accepted and others aren’t?

How did Howard Stern get away with, well, everything for 30 years but Jimmy Fallon had to do a groveling, on-air apology for a 20-year-old blackface joke

Ezra Miller’s lack of cancellation rushes to mind. So does former President Bill Clinton, who never lost his liberal base even at the height of LewinskyGate (or after).

Here’s betting those who want C.K. to exit the stage permanently would vote for Clinton again if they could. Recall how feminists strained their necks looking the other way when Tara Reade accused Joe Biden of sexual assault.

The documentary doesn’t have enough time to veer in that direction, but it matters.

It’s to “Sorry/Not Sorry’s” credit that the film lingers in one’s mind, raising as many tough questions as it tries to answer about a case that speaks volumes about 21st-century culture.

Now, if more New York Times content could produce similar results…

HiT or Miss: You may not agree with everything shared in “Sorry/Not Sorry,” but it’s a smart, engaging snaphot of a scandal that epitomizes our pop culture moment.

Photo Credit: Louis C.K. photographed at the Toronto International film festival 9/17/17 for The New York Times’ article Asking Questions Louis C.K. Doesn’t Want to Answer by Cara Buckley. Photo Credit: Angela Lewis for The New York Times.


  1. There needs to be distinction clearly made between crimes or accusations: courts do this, but the public do not, journalists, content creators etc., those who are not lawyers or judges pass sentence arbitrarily. Louis CK did not touch nor threaten a woman, he made them (very) uncomfortable at most. Yes, he deserved, past tense, punishment, but the people mentioned above choose to punish permanently. Even murderers serve their time and go back into normal society, but ‘cancelled’ people have their careers destroyed. Like the recent YouTuber Dr Disrespect, outed for ‘bordering on sexual content messages with a minor’ has lost just about everything that makes him money, he’s done, finished, and shamed. He never even met the girl nor sent photos, just texts: no crime was committed yet so many want his career destroyed. They got it. But is it enough? No way, virtue signallers will never let go, like Louis CK having a documentary made a decade later after being cancelled for years and shamed: not good enough. Imagine if all ex-convicts were met at the jail they exit with, “You will pay!”.

    1. That’s how Dr Disrespect described it after he could no longer deny it. He had plans to meet up with the girl but the dumbass got caught because he used twitch’s whisper function (not texts) and he was caught before he could meet up with her.
      Hes the one taking a break from streaming now and even if his career was destroyed history has shown that is almost always temporary plus there’s plenty of options for him to revive his career if the audience is there. Why people would want to watch or in your case defend this pedophile against dude idk.

    2. The problem is these people pretty much admitted to it. You never acknowledge or apologize to a mistake. That’s how cancel culture works. They take any indiscretion and focus on it and elevate it. Then you’re cancelled.
      I wish Roseanne fought back. She didn’t come back either.

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