IN the wake of several showbiz figures being accused of sexual assault and harassment, this week the New York Times revealed allegations comedian Louis CK disrobed and masturbated in front of women, who felt paralysed because of his sway in the industry — allegations he’s admitted. In this week’s SPEAKER’S CORNER, Voice cartoonist JASON CHATFIELD, a long-time fan of Mr CK, writes about the fall of his heroes.
WHY my ever-crumbling Pantheon was an unrealistic folly to begin with.
I grew up far away from everything.
The only things I knew about the world were from books, the radio, movies and TV.
These far-away lands with far away people doing amazing things.
As a result, I would see these people as somewhat superhuman.
I imbued them with a sense of power and awe that was previous only reserved for the characters in my comic books.
Comedic legends for whom I had limitless admiration — so I thought.
I grew up watching Rolf Harris — not just a comedian and entertainer but a cartoonist, too! What a role model.
I followed his whole career.
He was the one of the most famous, lauded and recognisable Australians of the 20th century.
We went on to become friends and he eventually began to mentor me.
It was a huge privilege.
They said, ‘Never meet your heroes’—but here I was being taught by mine.
I would go to visit him in London. We’d sit in his studio and he’d show me how to paint.
I took this photo above one afternoon at his place. It was an unforgettable day.
We would hang out whenever he was back in Australia. He taught me to paint via correspondence.
He taught me about performing. We would write letters back and forth, and eventually email regularly. About art, comedy—everything.
My family would sit around on holidays listening to Bill Cosby records, all dying laughing even though we’d all heard the jokes before.
It seemed like some kind of incredible magic trick. It made me want to learn how he was doing it.
I listened to every album he put out, and memorised his routines. He was a giant of comedy. A hero.
I pursued stand-up comedy in part because of this drive to find out how he did what he did.
And, of course, there’s Louis CK.
The comedic behemoth for whom I had so much respect.
I was in awe of his talent — his films, his TV show and especially his stand-up.
At one point CK was unrivalled in his ability to put out consistently funny comedy hours.
Not since Carlin had people seen such work. He pissed off other comics as his work ethic eclipsed theirs five-fold.
He sold out Madison Square Garden many times and would add extra shows — and sell those out too.
He made me laugh harder than any other comedian, ever.
I got to meet Louis CK a few times. Nothing major, just a hand shake, a hello and a quick chat.
I saw him live about 20 times — both at big theatre venues, arenas as well as up close over a dozen times at the Comedy Cellar in New York.
He was unapologetically brilliant. But it all changed.
The day I was leaving Australia to fly to New York to live, the front page of every newspaper had Rolf Harris’ mugshot on it.
He’d been convicted on several counts of child molestation and sexual misconduct.
His alter-ego was a monster he’d hidden from everyone, including his family and friends.
It was gut-wrenching.
Someone I not only admired — worshipped, but knew, and called a friend.
Thanks to Google, I got endless calls from the press for comment but gave none.
I didn’t know what to say.
I was shattered.
At least I had Bill Cosby.
Good old Dr. Huxtable couldn’t let me down.
It’s 2014, I’ve already lost one hero.
There’s now way he c—oh for f…
Well. At least I have Louie.
He’s so open and honest, he lives his live like an open book! Nothing could shock me about Lou—Oh, COME ON!
Well. This is awkward….No more heroes for me.
I’ve come to the realisation that if you have heroes with a penis, it’s only a matter of time before you discover their second life as a sexual deviant.
Hero-worship is a childish folly anyway.
Imbuing anyone with any kind of superhuman capacity to be the perfect person is selfish, irrational and completely unrealistic.
People are, for the most part, good, but every single person has flaws — some more than others.
They say, “Never meet your heroes.” I say “Fuck having heroes. Be your own hero — and try not to fuck it up.”