Louis C.K. made a surprise appearance on August 26 at New York’s Comedy Cellar, and two women who were in the audience for the comedian’s 15-minute set told Vulture it was deeply uncomfortable. The women, one of whom asked to be identified with the initials S.B. and the other who wished to remain anonymous, said it was clear several female audience members were not happy when C.K. took to the Cellar stage unannounced. The performance was C.K.’s first since admitting to sexual misconduct last fall.
“It felt like he was being thrust upon the audience without telling them,” the anonymous woman told Vulture. “The audience was very loud when Louis C.K. walked in. They were clearly supportive and surprised when he showed up, but there were a number of women sitting in the front row.”
“There were at least four to five females that I could see, and three or four of them were not having it,” S.B. added. “They were just looking at him, deadpan, straight, not having it.”
The women described the reception to C.K.’s set as “warm,” with one man even shouting aloud that it was “good to have [C.K.] back.” As previously reported, the crowd gave C.K. a standing ovation when he appeared on stage. The enthusiastic response was not the same after the comedian finished his set.
“I was actually surprised personally how his exit round of applause compared to his entrance round of applause,” S.B. said. “It was way quieter for sure. There was a huge difference in that volume or in those number of claps.”
Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman previously said C.K. covered a lot of his usual material during his 15-minute set, but the two women told Vulture there was at least one offensive joke made during C.K’s appearance, especially given the fact he has admitted to masturbating in front of female comics in the past. C.K. was joking about the phrase “clean as a whistle,” which built to a punchline about rape whistles not being clean.
“When he said ‘rape whistle’ people were laughing, and I was just sitting there like oh my fuck,” the anonymous woman said. “This is so uncomfortable and so disgusting. Everyone around me was laughing. That was just depressing.”
The woman said it was eye-opening to watch the audience be so welcoming to C.K. “You hear this big, loud guy sitting next to you, yelling, ‘Oh, it’s so great to have you back, Louis,’ and people cheering and giving him a standing ovation,” she said. “Our voice is definitely not going to be prioritized in that space…How do you think the women in that room felt? It’s just really frustrating.”
C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct last November by five women who came forward in an article published by The New York Times. The comedian released a statement the day after the article’s publication admitting the allegations against him were true. C.K. has remained out of the spotlight since the fall.
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