Louis C.K. is different than most Cancel Culture victims. He did something legitimately terrible and many agree he deserved the ensuing repercussions.
The “Louie” star admitted to pleasuring himself in front of multiple women in 2017, and his career quickly collapsed.
Now, he’s back but without any help from Hollywood, Inc. He’s gone solo, independently selling comedy specials and movies alike, witness his new dramedy, “Fourth of July.”
And C.K. is far from alone.
Other comedians also avoid the standard paths to fame but for very different reasons. Some know their joke targets don’t align with Hollywood groupthink. Others crave the creative freedom that woke culture won’t allow.
One feared being a straight white male would make it harder for him to get a gig in the first place.
Andrew Schulz flirted with mainstream fame via 2020’s “Schulz Saves America” on Netflix. He’s best known for his new media work – think podcasts like “Flagrant” and bits found on YouTube and social media alike.
He refuses to comply with comedy’s new, unwritten rules. A major Toronto venue canceled his performance late last year over his “inappropriate” jokes. Schulz rebounded by finding a different Canadian venue and selling it out … twice.
That helps explain why when he tried to follow up that Netflix show with a stand-up special an unnamed streaming platform balked. Remove select jokes, the company told him, or we can’t stream your special.
So Schulz bought back the special, dubbed “Infamous,” and released it on his own July 17.
What happened next? TMZ reports Schulz’s pre-sales totaled north of $1 million in under a week. Chances are he’ll go solo the next time he considers a new stand-up special.
And he’ll likely have company.
Comedians like Ryan Long and Tim Dillon don’t even bother with traditional platforms. Both rely on their podcast work and video clips to bolster their stand-up careers. Long routinely goes viral for his anti-woke comedy clips, particularly his blistering 2020 takedown called, “When Wokes and Racists Actually Agree on Everything” (6.5 million views to date on YouTube).
Dillon is gay but doesn’t consider himself a member of an oppressed group. He’s fearless in a way that recalls the early days of Howard Stern, taking dark humor to new levels on his unexpurgated podcast.
Going rogue is clearly paying off for Dillon, who just plunked down $4 million for a Long Island home, in addition to pads in Austin, Texas and Beverly Hills.
New media allows comedians to avoid the late-night TV promotional circuit. They may never get five minutes on CBS’s “The Late Show,” but platforms like Patreon, which let artists collect revenue from loyal fans, support their indie careers.
Crack impressionist Tyler Fischer nearly quit the business after his agency failed to find him gigs. The company’s excuse, according to Fischer? He’s a straight white male comic and getting work for someone like that isn’t easy.
Fischer, who is suing said agency (which denies the comic’s claims), went solo instead. He built up a following via podcasting, viral video clips and social media yuks. Now, his career is flourishing and he just scored a supporting actor gig in The Daily Wire’s western “Terror on the Prairie.”
Rogue comics call their own shots, but they face hardships their peers rarely encounter. Big Tech censors often smack down their bits, be it on TikTok, YouTube or Facebook. And they don’t generate the free publicity journalists provide other comics like Stephen Colbert, Sarah Silverman and Amy Schumer.
Those establishment stars get copious press, often framed in the most flattering light possible. The Dillons and Schulzes of the world rarely get that kind of treatment. And when media spotlights shine on them, it’s often to take them down.
Dillon railed late last year against a Business Insider “hit piece” on his comedy career. Schulz’s “America” limited series got attacked by critics as “racist” for chiding China for spreading COVID-19.
Their collective success proves indie comics no longer need mainstream media’s approval. Their fans have the ultimate say on the subject.