Louis C.K. had done a number of gigs at New York’s Comedy Cellar as part of his attempted comeback from sexual-misconduct allegations, but those had all been kept secret, with the performer appearing on stage without prior notice.
Until Monday night.
Protests greeted the first scheduled performances at the 9:30 and 11:30 p.m. shows at the Greenwich Village venue. Last year, C.K. was forced to admit to masturbating in front of a number of women without their consent, which led to him being dropped from deals with HBO and Netflix.
“He sexually harassed a bunch of women and lied about it for years,” Lana McCray, 27, told the New York Post when asked why she was protesting outside the club Monday night.
“He shouldn’t feel comfortable performing here when he makes so many people feel uncomfortable because of what he does. He shouldn’t get to feel comfortable,” she said.
The Post reports that another protester held a sign that read: “When you support Louis C.K. you tell women that your laughter is more important than their sexual assaults and loss of their careers.”
One audience member told the Post the show was “not polished” but that C.K. did acknowledge the scandal in his set.
“That’s what everyone wants him to do and he did it.”
C.K.’s attempts to continue his career are widely seen as litmus test of how and when men in the entertainment industry will be accepted by audiences as they attempt to return to the public eye after accusations of sexual misconduct.
For example, Oscar-winning actor Javier Bardem recently reignited the debate over Woody Allen, saying, “If Woody Allen called me to work with him again, I’d be there tomorrow morning. He’s a genius.”
And comic Aziz Ansari—who faced an uncertain future after an anonymous 23-year-old woman accused him of pressuring her into giving him oral sex—has also been playing to full houses across New England after several months in which he retreated from stage performances.
His acclaimed Netflix series Master of None was not pulled; in June, Netflix said it was open to making a third season of the hit show.
And now one more thing seems certain: Louis C.K. has no intention of disappearing any time soon.