Louis C.K. channels misanthropic humor into delivering health care, water, and capital to people in need.
In Louis C.K.'s new one-hour stand-up special, Live at the Beacon Theater, the comedian jokes that he's made his money from "being a professional asshole." Within 12 days, the comedy show had netted that asshole another $1 million. And C.K. has decided not to spend it like a jerk.
"One million dollars. That's a lot of money. Really too much money," C.K. wrote on his website, where he was selling his special directly to fans for $5 a pop. "Since we're all sharing this experience and since it's really your money, I wanted to let you know what I'm doing with it ... I want to set an example of what you can do if you all of a sudden have a million dollars that people just gave to you directly because you told jokes."
C.K. has pledged to break the million into four pieces: He'll use $250,000 to cover the costs of the special; $250,000 to give his staff members "a big fat bonus"; and $280,000 to make the world a better place. After crowdsourcing the question among friends and on Twitter, C.K. decided to give the money to women's health through The Fistula Foundation, pediatric cancer research through The Pablove Foundation, clean water through charity: water, microlending through Kiva, and animal therapy through Green Chimneys. If C.K. hadn't cut out the middleman by releasing his special directly on his site, that money would be lining a television studio's pockets instead of delivering health care, water, and capital to people in need.
The remaining $220,000 C.K. will use to pay rent, raise his kids, and "do terrible, horrible things with and none of that is any of your business." That's the type of misanthropic humor C.K. is known for—fans can laugh harder at it knowing that offstage, at least, it's going toward a good cause. And if being an asshole makes C.K. another million, he's pledged to give more of it away. "I never viewed money as being 'my money.' I always say it as 'the money.' It's a resource," C.K. says. "If it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system."