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Louis C.K. does surprise set at SkankFest; Brooklyn Bazaar releases statement

Louis C.K. was a surprise guest on Sunday (6/23) at Brooklyn comedy festival Skankfest, which, as mentioned, happened over three days at Brooklyn Bazaar. His return to stand-up comedy, which he began less than a year after admitting to sexual misconduct, has been controversial and met with a mixed reception, including sold out shows in some places, cancelled shows in others, and a ban on attendees sharing show material without “consent.” As you can see in the video above, from festival promoter Luis J. Gomez, Louis was met with an enthusiastic standing ovation in Brooklyn and performed a 20 minute set. TMZ reports that he opened, as he has in the past, with a riff on his sexual misconduct, saying, “if you ever masturbate in front of someone, ask them first. If they say yes, don’t do it!”

Gomez, who according to TMZ confirmed Louis’s appearance days before the festival after a lot of work, faced criticism on social media for booking the comic, and responded with tweets of his own. “Enough already,” he wrote in one of them. “Louis CK didn’t assault anyone. He didn’t commit any crimes. Let the man work. Let him create. Most comedians will tell you that comedy is therapy.. Let him heal himself in probably the only way he knows how.” In response to another tweet, he wrote, “what crimes? He didn’t just take his dick out without asking. If you read the times article there are no crimes mentioned.” “I mean it’s a nuanced situation,” he continued. “What’s incredible about the world is that we can all disagree on certain issues and still co-exist peacefully. If she can change… and I can change…. than everybody can change!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Among the vocal critics sparring with Gomez (and his fans) on Twitter was comedian Sara Schaefer, who replied to him, writing, “I’m not mad! Just observing and laughing. You’re allowed to book Louis, I’m allowed to not like it. Just like I’m allowed to continue being a professional comedian, even if you don’t like it. Peace to you!” She continued, “some of the worst harassment I ever received was from your fans. I’m sure you’re a nice person. But since then I’ve just observed from afar, curious. You’re against silencing but when anyone criticizes/disagrees, the go-to from your camp is ‘you’re not a real comedian.’ Hmmm.”

Brooklyn Bazaar released a statement in apology, saying they weren’t aware Louis would appear at the event:

Regarding Louis CK’s appearance at Brooklyn Bazaar the other night:

We would like to state that this was a surprise appearance and that the venue had no prior knowledge that his performance would occur. By the time he was brought through the side entrance by promoters and put on stage, it was too late for our staff to stop it. Management felt stopping it may put our staff in danger because of the large crowd. This event was a rental of the space by outside promoters. Our Music Programming department and their affiliates had no hand in managing the booking of this event. It was done directly with the Special Events department and not through them. We would first like to apologize to our community and staff for what occurred, and we would also like to apologize to the Music Department because they have put a lot of effort into making Brooklyn Bazaar a safe space with diverse programming. We will make sure to be more clear when discussing our guidelines and policies with outside events and to vet these events more thoroughly in general in the future.

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