NPR Host Explains Why It’s Wrong to Assume Only The Best Comics Rise To the Top

In the past few months, comedian Louis C.K. has been popping up at comedy venues again, less than a year after admitting to sexually assaulting women and in some cases, tanking their careers when they spoke out. For some reason, there are still plenty of people willing to defend him and welcome him back. C.K. has a lot of friends, and many of them are pretty powerful. Even if they don’t condone what he did, many seem willing to give him a second chance.

That includes Jimmy Kimmel, who made some comments about comedy and meritocracy that have raised a few eyebrows. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Kimmel said in regards to C.K.’s reappearance, “If we get into the business of sanitizing every comedian and doing a thorough background check before they walk through the door, it’s going to be a very empty stage. I think people tend to focus on the one or two people who walk out of a situation like that. Ultimately, the audience decides whether someone is welcomed back.”

For somebody who has been committing segments of his show to issues in politics and healthcare, this is a decidedly unwoke opinion. NPR host Linda Holmes broke down why on Twitter:

In addition to implicitly condoning C.K., Kimmel gave the impression that people get a chance to make it or break it on stage by accident. There are certainly times when someone can prove themselves in front of a mic, but we Holmes pointed out that sometimes we don’t see how great people are because of our own biases. Also, C.K. isn’t on the stage by accident. Someone invited him:

Great point. We’re all pretty lazy about looking outside our comfort zone and trying to be open to new perspectives. It can be hard work to make sure we’re tuned to experience something new. Let’s start with agreeing that the guy who masturbated in front of people against their will is old news.