Louis C.K. cancels shows in Ukraine amid Russian invasion

Louis CK poses in front of a city skyline
Comic Louis C.K. says he’s not in Ukraine, despite earlier plans to perform in Kyiv on Thursday and Friday.
(Michael Nagle / For The Times)

People who hate Louis C.K. got a dose of schadenfreude Thursday as word circulated on social media that the canceled comedian was set to perform two nights in Kyiv, Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion that began earlier in the day.

Fans of Louis C.K., however, were relieved Friday after the comic sent word via email that the shows weren’t happening.

“I am not in Ukraine,” he wrote in a note to members of his mailing list. “My flight was canceled because no one can fly there now.”

C.K., whose real last name is Székely, was disgraced in 2017 when he confirmed long-rumored stories of his sexual misconduct amid the #MeToo movement. Two years later, he was out on tour again.

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Now he’s in the middle of a European tour with his show “Sorry” that will take him from Spain and Portugal to Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Romania, Italy and Sweden, then back to Norway and the Netherlands.

In mid-February, after the U.S. State Department ordered its embassy personnel out of Ukraine and issued a “do not travel” alert regarding the country, the U.K. comedy website Chortle reported on C.K.’s planned dates in Kyiv. Chortle shared an email message reportedly sent by the comic to ticketholders that said, “In terms of Ukraine. I really want to do these shows and I will if I can. Obviously that’s a … situation.

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“We are keeping in touch with the folks there and monitoring things and … just kind of waiting to see what it looks like closer to the date,” C.K. wrote. “But my intention is to do the shows if it’s at all possible. I will do my best to be there and I hope it works out. So let’s see what happens.”

On Wednesday night, air traffic authority Eurocontrol diverted all flights away from Ukraine after the country declared a state of emergency ahead of the Russian invasion. The airspace was soon closed, and that closure was then expanded beyond Ukraine’s boundaries into neighboring Moldova. The closure is in place at least through May 24.

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But Chicago playwright and screenwriter Patrick Vermillion — who says he is not a fan of C.K. — had tweeted Tuesday morning that “The Louis C.K. Show in Kyiv has not been cancelled.” He attached a screen grab that said shows planned for Friday and Saturday were still a go.

As the invasion unfurled days later, the tweet got a lot of attention, prompting its author to call attention to when it had been sent.