On Sunday night, Louis CK emerged from whatever hole he’s been hiding in to perform a surprise stand-up set at New York’s Comedy Cellar, just 10 months after rumors about him exposing himself to female comics and employees were confirmed in a New York Times article. CK had evidently decided that he had done enough penance and was ready to return to the comedy scene. Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman said that the set was just “typical Louis CK stuff” and that he was greeted with a standing ovation, with only one audience member later complaining about not knowing ahead of time that CK was going to be there.
In a follow-up with The Hollywood Reporter, Dworman says that he also had no idea CK was going to be there, and in fact he was at home sleeping when CK took the stage. He says CK didn’t even tell any Comedy Cellar employees what he was doing, he just walked in, told the night’s emcee that he wanted to go on, and the emcee just let it happen because CK is famous enough that he’s allowed to do that. (Hey, what other things is CK just allowed to do because he’s famous?)
There has also been a rumor going around that CK paid the Comedy Cellar to host his secret return, but Dworman says there’s no truth to that. “There was no payment because this is not helpful to us,” he told THR. “I believe that the man is entitled to his livelihood and that it’s up to the audience to go or not go… but in terms of the Comedy Cellar, this is nothing but a difficulty for us.” Dworman has no issue with CK coming back, but he thinks it would have been better if CK had treated his return with “a certain gravity”—as in, it was a “missed opportunity” because he didn’t actually address the things he did.
Dworman also reiterated that he only received one complaint, but a report from Vulture suggests that the crowd wasn’t as universally supportive as he may think. The site talked to two women who said CK made a joke about rape whistles that was “uncomfortable” and that “there seemed to be a divide between how men and women reacted to CK’s presence.” They claimed that they got a vibe that anyone who would’ve heckled CK would’ve been heckled back by the “aggressive men” in the audience, leading to an “awkward” atmosphere.
On another interesting note, Dworman says CK actually performed another surprise set immediately before going to the Comedy Cellar at a comedy club in Long Island. Dworman heard that there was a “very, very light crowd” and that CK “wasn’t happy” with the reaction, so he evidently decided to try playing to a more traditionally supportive crowd.