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Sorry/Not Sorry – Glasgow Film Festival 2024 Review

Sorry/Not Sorry – Glasgow Film Festival 2024 Review

In November 2017, just one month after the news of Harvey Weinstein’s abuses broke in the same paper, The New York Times published an article entitled ‘Louis C.K. Is Accused By 5 Women Of Sexual Misconduct’. The wildly popular, successful comedian was accused of masturbating in front of various younger female comics. Though he maintained that he always asked consent before doing so (not all the women agree), C.K. acknowledged his wrongdoing in a statement released the next day, that ended: “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”

In August 2018, Louis C.K. performed a surprise set at the Comedy Cellar in New York City, and went on to resume his career. Whilst he apparently thought he had stepped back and listened for long enough, there were plenty who begged to differ. Sorry/Not Sorry, co-directed by Caroline Suh and Cara Mones, investigates the misconduct, the return, and the way the whole case is a perfect microcosm of how hard it is to be a woman in comedy.

Although the revelations about him were revealed in that same initial wave of #MeToo that outed Weinstein as a monster, Sorry/Not Sorry doesn’t try to place Louis C.K on that same level. As the documentary shows, the fact his acts were lesser, and the fact he – at least initially – apologised for them, appeared to completely exculpate him in the eyes of some; we see clips from Matt Damon seeming more angry at the accusers than at C.K, and Dave Chappelle actively mocking them. Whilst Sorry/Not Sorry acknowledges that there were far graver offenders, it also isn’t willing to let C.K. off the hook like his host of famous friends; as Jen Kirkman says, “I don’t have to be traumatised by what Louis did, but I was disturbed”. The nuance involved makes for a fascinating, depressing documentary.

Various women interviewed talk about the experience of navigating the still very male world of stand-up comedy, and the various should-be-unacceptable behaviours they have to put up with on a daily basis just to do what they love to do. Megan Koester talks of that “series of indignities” that leads to many female comedians quitting.

The power imbalance becomes a major theme. As C.K. himself said in his original statement: “When you have power over another person, asking them to see your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.” C.K was a kingmaker, who produced and was in the process of producing shows by luminaries like Pamela Adlon, Tig Notaro, and Albert Brooks when the news broke. Against that boys’ club backdrop, and considering his immense power, it’s easy to see how C.K.’s behaviour could have remained an open secret for so long. For many, enduring it was just another one of those indignities.

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Ultimately, more than an exposé on one specific comedian, Sorry/Not Sorry is a deft, rigorous indictment of an environment all-too-eager to protect powerful men at the expense of women who deserve so much better.


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