“Swim at your own risk” at Comedy Cellar (where Louis C.K. performed again)
Greenwich Village comedy club Comedy Cellar found itself at the center of controversy after hosting an unannounced Louis C.K. set on August 26, one the comedian's first performances since admitting to sexual misconduct a year ago. The club, which earlier this year also hosted surprise, drop in performances from Aziz Ansari after he too was accused of sexual misconduct, has taken to printing a new disclaimer on its tickets. As the NY Times reports, the message, which is also posted on a sign inside the club, reads, "Swim at your own risk. We never know who is going to pop in. If an unannounced appearance is not your cup of tea, you are free to leave (unobtrusively please) no questions asked, your check on the house."
According to the Times, the sign and disclaimer have been in place for "about three weeks." Both were there when Louis C.K. made a second surprise appearance at Comedy Cellar, on September 30. The Times says the 20 minute set was greeted with "wild applause" and "a warm send off," and that, according to the club, two women walked out of it. Huffington Post spoke to an attendee on the contents of the set, including a joke about Louis's nine year old daughter that reportedly "made people uncomfortable":
"There were a few jokes that I thought made people uncomfortable mainly because of the context," the person said.
“One was a joke about taking his 9 year old daughter to Old Navy and seeing that they have boyfriend shirts for 9 year old girls, and then graphically describing, ‘Oh, is my 9 year old supposed to be f-ing her boyfriend all night and taking his shirt?’ and another was about how much he liked ‘his doctor touching him.’ He had a Freudian slip, saying ‘I love it when my father touches me’ (instead of doctor).”
In an interview with Hollywood Reporter about the comedy club he's teaming with Caesars to open in Las Vegas, Jimmy Kimmel was asked how he'd approach vetting performers at his club-to-be:
Q: The Comedy Cellar has been in the news a lot lately for playing host to Louis C.K.’s surprise appearances, for which it incurred some backlash. Curious, at your club, how are you going to approach who comes through and how they’re vetted, if they need to be vetted, and revealed to audiences?
JK: If we get into the business of sanitizing every comedian and doing a thorough background check before they walk through the door, it’s going to be a very empty stage. Laughs. I think people tend to focus on the one or two people who walk out of a situation like that. Ultimately, the audience decides whether someone is welcomed back.
Padma Laksmhi took to Twitter to criticize Kimmel's response. "Love you @jimmykimmel but the comedy community can also evolve their culture so that a known abuser who sexually humiliated women & silenced them for decades isn't welcomed back w/ open arms by @ComedyCellarUSA," she wrote. "I know a lot of standups who are NOT ok with sharing a bill with him."
Padma recently wrote a NY Times op-ed about her rape at the age of 16, saying, "I understand why a woman would wait years to disclose a sexual assault."
Comedian Ted Alexandro took on Louis C.K. (along with Bill Cosby and Donald Trump) at a Comedy Cellar set less than a week after Louis's initial August set.