Comedy Cellar hosts sexual misconduct benefit two days after Louis CK show
Greenwich Village comedy club Comedy Cellar once again found itself the subject of criticism after hosting a fundraiser for sexual violence and domestic assault prevention organizations Raliance and No More, two days after another surprise appearance from Louis C.K., who admitted to sexual misconduct just over a year ago. The fundraiser, which featured appearances from Rachel Feinstein, Matteo Lane, Emmy Blotnick, Judy Gold, Gina Yashere, and Yamaneika Saunders, and was hosted by Jon Fisch, was billed as "a night of comedy to benefit victims of sexual harassment misconduct." The Mary Sue called the lineup "lip service tokenism," while Pajiba pointed out that Raliance was founded and funded by the NFL as damage control, after scrutiny over their handling of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice was given a two-game suspension for punching his then-fiance, Janay Palmer; after video of the attack surfaced, he was cut from the team and suspended.
The Interrobang spoke to Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman, who said, "I’m very aware that the same people writing stories blasting us for doing this event would just as eagerly write a story about us refusing to do the event." He continued, "I was also urged by two prominent people very involved in this cause to do the event regardless of the fact that it might be used against us. In the end we opted for what we think is the right thing."
Dworman has previously defended his decision to let Louis C.K. perform after his admission of sexual misconduct, and Comedy Cellar instituted a "swim at your own risk" door policy. Speaking at Atlantic's Free Speech (Un)Limited event today (12/5), Dworman spoke about hosting Louis C.K., saying, "even when there is a willing performer and 100% willing audience that wants to see him, people still objected to it, they felt that no matter what he should not be able to speak publicly, even to people who wanted to see him speak."
"I think that it doesn't make any sense," Dworman continued. "I think they're pushing it too far. I think it's pretty clear that a free person can sell tickets to for people to come hear him speak, and people can come hear him speak."
As for Louis' most recent Comedy Cellar appearance on Sunday (12/2), twitter user Klaire Randall spoke to Vice after a tweet where she claims to have been asked to leave after "telling Louis C.K. to get his dick out on stage." went viral.
Randall told VICE she and her boyfriend, Sam Murphy, didn't laugh as C.K. riffed about his "bad year," all the money he's lost, how "hard" his life has become since his fall from grace.
"My boyfriend and I were just dead silent. But the rest of the crowd is—it’s thunderous applause, they are loving it, they laugh at all of his jokes," Randall said. "As I’m sitting there, my heart’s racing. I am seething mad that this, at that point, had ruined my night. I was pissed off that I had to sit there and see someone that I don’t support have a platform like that."
At some point, Randall said, C.K.'s set took a sexual turn: He started joking about "putting thermometers up your asshole" and "eight-year-old girls thinking about having sex." He paused to check his notes, the room fell silent, and—after growing "more and more enraged" at C.K.—Randall decided she had to say something.
"I am four feet away from him, and I yell: ‘Get your dick out!’" Randall said. "He looks at me and makes direct eye contact and says, ‘What?’ And I say: ‘Get your fucking dick out.’"
Almost immediately, Randall recalled, a few folks in the crowd started booing her, and a Comedy Cellar employee came over to her table. Randall said they told her she couldn't yell at the comedians, and that the club had paid for her tab. Then, she said, they pointed toward the door.
"It was not a forceful getting-kicked-out, but it was heavily implied," Randall said. "It was very much like: 'Your tab is covered, go.'"
Comedy Cellar general manager Liz Furiati told Vice that Klaire was not asked to leave, but left on her own after being told not to yell at Louis by a club employee.