The Way Back

I know Louis CK. I am friendly with him, but not friends. I haven’t spoken with him since before his sexual abuse allegations came out. When they did (and were subsequently confirmed), I think I was one of the first comedians who called on to him to explain himself. I condemned him then and I condemn him now for what he did.

This morning, I wrote that I am happy to see him try to make his way back.

This is not a defense of Louis. I will not defend him, and have no vested interest in his ability to reclaim his career or not. My interest is in having a nuanced conversation of what we do as a culture with men, like Louis, who fucked up. Do we think they are all irredeemable, disposable? For some people, the answer might very well be “yes.” If so, then the conversation is over. That’s ok.

Other people, and I include myself in this group, believe that for some of these guys, there ought to be a way for them to return from exile. Not because it matters if a celebrity like Louis gets another chance. It doesn’t. But because I believe that the important, vital, and necessary work of the Me Too Movement will only survive if men feel as invested in its survival as women. Will that happen if men feel like there is no way back from their worst moments? 

Men need to be called out and face consequences for their bad behavior. I don’t think there’s any debate on that topic. Sometimes that behavior rises to the level of criminality and those men ought to face criminal consequences. Sometimes it does not, and those men need to face the public opprobrium that follows.

No matter what happens from this point forward, each of these men will wear always their scarlet letter. Is that enough, or do we need more? Do we need a better public apology than the one Louis offered? Rehab? Reparations of some sort?

Everybody’s case is different. On the scale of horribleness, I place Louis somewhere in the middle. He did some terrible shit. He abused his power. He hurt people. Many people have done different terrible shit, abused their power, hurt others, and found their way to forgiveness.

When I said I was happy Louis is trying to find his way back, I am happy that he is trying to move into the uncharted territory of finding redemption at a time when redemption is hard to find. Maybe you think he did it in a bad way. If so, I fully support you. But what is the right way? Maybe you think it’s too soon. When is it long enough? What is the correct penance? What is the way forward? At what point do we show some grace? What do we need for somebody to come back in from the cold and find a little warmth?






The Wilds of Connecticut

There is a place in Newtown called Ferris Acres Creamery, a working dairy farm that serves unbelievable ice cream. There’s no counter at the Creamery, no indoor serving area, just a couple windows where high school kids take your order for Moose Tracks or Elvis’s Dream or, my son’s favorite, vanilla with rainbow sprinkles. In summer, the parking lot is always filled with SUVs and minivans and motorcycles, people coming ] to sit outside in the warm weather, look at the cows, roll down the grassy hill, and eat ice cream with their neighbors.

Last night people gathered in Newtown for a different reason. Like millions of others, I watched portions of the service from St. Rose of Lima, a Roman Catholic church just down the road from the Starbucks. The faces I saw on television are faces I know, faces we all know, faces we have seen so many times over the years. In my case, though, never so close to home.

When the reports first came in yesterday, I was at home, ten miles from Sandy Hook Elementary. I called my wife downstairs to tell her what was going on, and while we were both startled, the initial information was that shots had been fired and that somebody had been transported to the hospital with a foot injury. And then we were told it was going to get a lot worse. How much worse we could not have imagined. Not here.

Emails started arriving from our school district. Classes would be dismissed as usual. Police were arriving at all the schools. No, they hadn’t informed the little ones what happened. They enclosed some tips for how to talk to the kids when they get home.

When the bus finally came, I met my daughter at the driveway. “How was school?” I asked. “Good,” she said. When we got in the house, I gave her a big hug and told her I love her. “Your breath stinks,” she said. That was fine by me.

After my son got home an hour later, I hugged him too and told him I loved him. “Whatever,” he said. And that was fine, too.

We sat the kids down and told them what happened. Something bad. People had been killed, including children. You guys are safe, though. Do you have any questions? No. Okay. We love you. We’ll always love you. Yes, you can play videogames.

For dinner, we had our Friday night regular: pizza. We played Uno. We sat by the fire.

Before she went to bed, my daughter asked my wife if it had been especially windy outside today. “I don’t think so,” my wife said, “Why do you ask?”

“Oh, because it looked really nice out but the teachers said there was a storm so we couldn’t have outdoor recess.”

My wife and I held each other for a long time in bed this morning and after a while, our daughter got in bed with us, too.

It’s a bright, sunny day here in the wilds of Connecticut where I live, a perfect December day. That’s what I call it when people ask me where I live - “the wilds of Connecticut” - because Connecticut, while rural, is a manicured wilderness. The gravest danger any of us normally face is hitting a deer while driving.

The Creamery is closed today. The churches are open.



The Trump is President (Light Version)

The Trump is President!


The votes were in, the election was done.

An incredible surprise - the Trump had won!

“I’m the new Prez!” he said with a shout.

“Though, of course,” he demurred, “It was never in doubt.”


The Trump smoothed out his fur and puffed out his chest.

“Now the whole world knows that I am the best.

The thinkingest thinker, the financialest wizard.

I buried more folks than the snowiest blizzard!”


The Trump chuckled and clapped and spun like a dreidel.

Cha-cha-cha’d across his vast marble table.

His laughter rung through every floor of his tower.

“I’m the President!” he said, “And now I’ve got POWER!!!”


Down on the streets, the people looked up with a start.

(For the Trump’s laughter could tear a whole city apart.)


He swung from crystal and gold chandeliers

And wondered what he should do for four years.

Four years – four orbits of Earth around sun -

Four short years to have some Trumpian fun.


So he packed up his stuff: his gold baubles and buckles,

His six foot high portrait and golden brass knuckles.

Then departed his castle, his golden mane flowing

And flew south to D.C. where a cold wind was blowing.


The capital city sparkled like silver.

And unto its people, a Trump was delivered.

As Presidents go, he was unorthodox. 

His motorcade alone stretched thirty-two blocks!


But that’s why they loved him, he was just like them.

A regular Joe! (Plus a few billion to spend.)


They threw a parade, the best ever thrown.

They carried his speech to parts known and unknown.

And when the time came, he raised one tiny right hand

And swore to uphold all the laws of the land.


(NOTE: his fingers should be crossed behind his back)


An Inaugural Ball was thrown in his name.

His dancing was stiff but nobody complained.

They gave toasts in his honor, at his feet threw bouquets.

He was still up at dawn, drinking the milk of their praise.


Then he yawned the great yawn of a beast needing sleep.

And asked to be carried to the President’s suite.

Five valets tucked the Trump into his bed

While one fed him burgers on the whitest of breads.


That was how the Trump concluded Day One.

Oh, the Presidency was going to be fun!


A few hours later, he was shaken awake.

“Mr. President, you must attend matters of state.”

“Oh bother,” he said, “Can’t it wait until noon?

The world will keep spinning if I stay in my room.”


The Trump put his pillow back over his noggin,

But they dragged him downstairs on a toboggan.

“There’s work to be done! There’s no time to waste!”

“Yes, but this office,” he said, “Is not quite to my taste.”


The Oval Office he found just a touch too sedate.

“Is there any way we could make it a bit more ornate?

Perhaps a gold throne or a chocolate fountain? 

A scale model Rushmore with my face on the mountain?”


 (He resolved to hire his own decorator. 

The dump didn’t have even its own escalator.)


“Yes, sir!” they responded, “Whatever is needed.

But the work on your desk must not be superseded.

There’s bills to sign! There are wars to be won!

A stack of briefing books to be read by the ton.


Congress is waiting for a jiff of your time!

There’s Presidents and Kings and Premiers on the line!

And when all that is dealt with, there’s still more to do.

The Girls Scouts are waiting for a photo or two.”


“Ugh,” moaned the Trump, letting his head hit the desk.

“What have I done? How can I get out of this mess?”

“One more thing, sir. After work, if there’s time,

We’d like you to solve world peace - and to do it by nine.”


That night, the Trump tucked himself into bed.

He felt so exhausted, so low energy, so dead.


When morning came ‘round, he’d decided to quit.

He’d call a press conference and that would be it.

He’d go back to his tower and his club on the beach.

And if anyone called, he’d be just out of reach.


Then he flipped on the telly, hopping from channel to channel

His finely tuned ears acting like two solar panels.

“They’re talking about ME,” he whispered delighted.

Their denunciation and praise left him equally excited.


And just then, he felt his heart swell with inflation.

Not from any great love for duty or nation,

But because everyone now spoke his name.

He’d achieved the Trump’s dream of international fame.


It had all been worth it! All the work! All the guile!

And The Trump promised himself, “I’ll be here for a while.”


The Trump is President (Dark Version)

The Trump is President!


The votes were in, the election was done.

An incredible surprise - the Trump had won!

“I’m the new Prez!” he said with a shout.

“Though, of course,” he demurred, “It was never in doubt.”


The Trump smoothed out his fur and puffed out his chest.

“Now the whole world knows that I am the best.

The thinkingest thinker, the financialest wizard.

I buried more folks than the snowiest blizzard!”


What had it taken to reach these new heights?

Not much: some speeches, a few personal slights.

But, above all, he’d made an arrangement:

“Just give me your love, I’ll provide entertainment!”


And entertain them he had like a true master showman.

(But few of them read the long bill of goods that he’d sold them.)


The Trump chuckled and clapped and spun like a dreidel.

“I’m gonna drain the whole swamp if I’m able.

For each rat bureaucrat, an unfond farewell.

For each stuffy old building, a Trump brand hotel.”


“My ideas are huge, my plans are tremendous.

The wall I will build will be double stupendous.

Each thing that I do will be better than lastest.

And if any object, I’ll take a long look at their taxes.”


So he packed up his stuff: his gold baubles and buckles,

His six foot high portrait and golden brass knuckles.

Then he departed his tower, his golden mane flowing

And flew due south to D.C. where a cold wind was blowing.


“I’ve arrived!” he announced, dropping his bags with the clerk.

“Now fetch me my pen and let’s get to work.”


Most Presidents sign into law things that they favor.

The Trump, instead, shaved away laws like a razor.

Goodbye to the rules governing airborne pollution.

Au revoir to school standards that teach evolution.


As for all of the members of a certain religion

Henceforth, they’re considered a pre-existing condition.

He signed tariffs and tax breaks and immigrant bans.

(It all took some time due to the small size of his hands.)


Then he yawned the great yawn of a beast needing sleep.

And asked to be carried to the President’s suite.

Five valets tucked the Trump into his bed

And one fed him burgers on the whitest of breads.


In the morning, he awoke to noise from outside.

He peeked out the window and saw a vast swelling tide.


Thousands had gathered to express their dismay

At what the Trump had done on the previous day.

A slow smile spread from cheek A to cheek B.

“All of those protestors protesting little old me?”


He flipped on the telly, hopping from channel to channel

His finely tuned ears acting like two solar panels.

“They’re saying my name,” he whispered time after time.

He listened, enraptured, to those pundits opine.


Those same stuffed shirts who’d laughed at him once.

Who’d called him a clown, a buffoon, and a dunce.

Yet now they hung on the Trump’s every word.

He’d exposed those frauds for what they were – absurd.


And just then, he felt his heart swell with inflation.

Not from any great love for duty or nation,

But because they all - ALL of them - now knew his name.

He’d achieved the Trump’s dream of international fame.


“I’m famous!” he breathed, “And nothing else matters.”

Then one stony tear fell from his eye to the floor, and shattered.


The moment divine, he enjoyed its enthrall.

He enjoyed it for twenty-nine seconds in all.  

After that, in a blink, he was seized with a fear.

He realized, aghast, he’d be out in four years.


“Oh no!” he wailed, “Could this end so soon?”

Just four more years in that big oval room?

Just four scant orbits of Earth around sun,

Then he’d be right back to where he’d begun:


A nothing. A nobody. A footnote. A loser.

Well not him! Not the Trump! Not this battle cruiser!

No, he’d stick around for another full term.

He’d make all of his doubters wriggle and squirm.


He rushed down the hall past all of the paintings.

The past Prezzies upon them had a single mass fainting.

For they knew him, that orange interloper

That liar, con artist, and serial groper.


But they were all gone, just ghosts from the past.

The Trump was in charge and he’d make it last.

He lassoed his best tie and affixed his best smile

Then announced to the press, “I’ll be here a while.”


The Trump made it this far through unnatural selection.

Only you and your friends can stop Trump’s re-election.





WAY TOO CLOSE!!!   (from



I haven’t slept in two days. Not for lack of trying; I’m tired, I get to bed at my normal hour, read for ten or fifteen minutes, and turn off the light. But when I close my eyes, instead of falling to sleep, I find my mind bombarded with flashbacks of the day’s news. Hours of nervous fidgeting follow, hours of turning over and over in my bed like a rotisserie chicken trying to get comfortable on a spit. When dawn comes, I get up, my heart jackhammering in my chest, and I want to puke. And I know what the problem is - I’m triggered.

Being "triggered" of course, is the psychological state of being exposed to discomfiting information or imagery that brings on a profound, upsetting emotional experience. The word is generally used to demean people who feel things. Having never been triggered before, I didn't fully understand it until now. And there's no other word to express my level of anxiety. I am full-on triggered. 

The question I’ve been struggling to answer is: why? Why have the headlines of the last few days upset me so much? I’m no longer concerned about a Trump presidency. That monster will never get near the White House. But the damning tape from 2005 in which he and the “journalist” Billy Bush casually discuss Trump’s attempts to “fuck” Billy’s married co-worker and Trump’s assertion that he doesn’t ask permission from women to kiss them or “grab their pussies,” left me feeling sick.

To be clear, I’ve never been the victim of sexual assault, although I once sat too hard on my bicycle’s crossbar. But I have never experienced sexual trauma at the hands of another. So it’s not as if I’m being triggered because of something that happened to me. It’s more than that. It’s the culmination of a year and a half of the worst of humanity, in particular male humanity, given voice and legitimacy by tens of millions of my fellow citizens. It is the shrugging of the shoulders at hate speech directed at every conceivable minority in the nation, as well as women, who constitute the majority. It’s a year and a half of receiving thousands of anti-Semitic Twitter messages directed at me through Twitter. It’s watching the rise of the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to an American fascist and his sweaty band of sycophants defending his every stupid, fucking utterance. And the millions of people going along with them. It’s watching my country popping apart at seams I once thought were strong. I didn’t think it would get this far. I was wrong.

I didn’t think our country was so filled with sexual abuse. I was wrong about that, too.

Last Sunday night, as I prepared to watch the presidential debate, I read a few Twitter friends saying they’d be unable to watch because doing so might reawaken their own sexual traumas. My friend Kelly started a hashtag, #notokay, in which people shared details of their own sexual assaults. She got tens of thousands of responses. Last night, my thirteen-year-old and I were out together, and I explained sexual assault to her, and I told her that if anything like that should ever happen to her, to tell somebody – hopefully, to tell me – that she never feel like it’s ever fault or that she should feel ashamed. That we are here to help her, to be her advocates, to support her. And, as I told her all of this, walking through Manhattan, I worried what people would think of me walking arm in arm with a teenage girl. I don’t know if I told her the right things or not. Nobody tells you how to have that conversation.

I talked to my son, too. He’s fifteen and he wants a girlfriend. I told him, when he’s courting a girl, he needs to respect her boundaries and personal space, that no means no. I told him some girls find themselves attracted to guys who treat them like shit, but he should never make the mistake of becoming one of those guys, even if it means those girls only ever see him “as a friend.” Treat women with respect, I told him, and go slow. I don’t know if I told him the right things or not. Nobody tells you how to have that conversation, either.

And, of course, when I woke up this morning, my pulse was racing. I tried watching the news but could not. I tried reading the paper but could not. Because I’m triggered. And I welcome those who would mock me for being so. I welcome the hatred they will send me and the Pepe the Frog memes and the references to my being a “special snowflake” and the “safe space” I undoubtedly need. Because they are right. I am scared. Not for me. For my family, and for the culture. I don’t know what will happen when Donald Trump returns to destroying businesses, but I hope that we will all kind of shake ourselves awake after this long and sleepness night and realize we can do better. That we deserve better. That we are better.




Some Thoughts on Twitter and Censorship

I did not like Ghostbusters. The old one. It’s just not that funny. I haven’t seen the new one yet, but probably will at some point because everybody eventually sees everything. All I really know about the new one is that a lot of people are upset about it for reasons which remain unclear to me, but seem to involve male rage, Gamergate, and making America great again.

One of the stars, Leslie Jones, spent her Monday retweeting the racist and misogynistic shit hurled in her direction for the crime of, as she said, “making a movie.” At the end of the day, signed off“in tears and with a very sad heart.”

Afterwards, many people called for Twitter to “do something” about the barrage of rampant hate speech Jones and so many others experience on the site. A day later, Twitter permanently suspended Breitbart “tech editor” Milos Yiannopoulos for inciting his hundreds of thousands of followers to go after Jones on Twitter, as well as for making his own hateful comments towards her. I have no problem with Twitter kicking off Yiannopoulos because: 1. They are a company who can do whatever they want. 2. He is a raging asshole.


I have complicated feelings about this subject because, to me, the great appeal of Twitter is that it allows me to say whatever I want, however I want to say it. Of course, if I have this privilege, so does everybody else on the site, including trolls and hatemongers and white supremacists and, most offensive of all, bland corporate tweets wishing me a happy Hanukkah or whatever.

So how does Twitter continue to be the great free speech forum I enjoy while also making sure its users feel safe? To be clear, when I say “safe,” I do not mean immune from challenging language. I mean, physically safe. I have seen countless tweets from (almost always anonymous users) threatening to rape, assault, and lynch people. A physical threat needs to be taken seriously. But then there are more oblique threats, like the ones sent to Jewish users showing images of gas chambers and concentration camps. The ones impersonating a user’s dead parents or friends. People feel unsafe when they receive these messages and I, for one, am not going to tell them they’re wrong to feel that way.

What does Twitter do? Where do they draw the line? If they ban somebody for threatening to knock somebody out, what do they do when a user tweets to another that “somebody should kick your ass?” Is that the same level of threat? Is racist imagery a threat? Some would say yes, some no. How does Twitter police every message that goes out? Should they?

I would argue no. The great promise of social media is its unique ability to allow users to connect. Those connections are often wonderful, and often not. Yes, Twitter can (and should) suspend people like Yiannopoulos who repeatedly stir up vicious hatred. Yes, they need to investigate overt physical threats when they’re made aware of them, and suspend users who make them. But censorship is a slippery slope and I would rather Twitter err on the side of leniency than suppression, and I would rather users stopped being total fucking dickheads. 

Taping Tonight

I'm a taping a stand-up special tonight. I say that with some trepidation, as I'm not 100% sure that I'm ready to do that. I've been working on this special for about six months and the truth is, I could use another six months. This is one of the problems I have with myself: rushing headlong into something without giving myself the proper time and space to see it through. Which is not to say the special won't be good; I think it will be. But things can always be better and I wish I had the time to make this thing better, too. That being said, when it comes out on Netflix or whatever, just pretend it's the most brilliant thing you've ever seen. 

On Ambition

Just watched a movie written by and starring a well-known personality not known for his acting. This personality had a large hand in the creation of this film. Let me say this: it is not a good movie. But in it's not-goodness, I found something else I like almost as much as quality: ambition. For a lot of people, it's easy to keep doing what they do, to do what they know themselves to be good at doing. It's an easy way to conduct one's life, and maybe even an admirable one insomuch as mastery of one's craft is a worthy goal. Nobody's going to get on YoYo Ma's dick if he doesn't pick up a clarinet. But I love when people take a chance. I love when people show sides of themselves we may not have known existed before. And maybe those chances don't always pan out. Maybe they never pan out. So what? Ambition isn't the same thing as success. It's the desire to try, and, maybe, it leads to action. It's true that anything worth doing is worth doing well, but doing nothing is not worth doing at all. 

After Much Delay

I have created a new website for myself. Here you will find current tour schedules, musings, photos, and maybe even a laugh or two. Boy, I hope we find some time to laugh together. 

Blogging is pretty annoying, and I don't anticipate doing a ton of it, but every now and again, I may post some shit here when Twitter's character limits stifle my muse. MY MUSE WILL NOT BE STIFLED!!!

I will also probably use this website to promote stuff, including my new book, Navel Gazing, due out in January. Perhaps I will run excerpts to whet your whistle. Perhaps I will not need excerpts to whet your whistle. Perhaps, just perhaps, your whistle is already pretty whet. 

My hope is that we will become great friends, you and I. 

Until then, I remain your...

Michael Ian Black