Klaire Randall thought the emcee was joking: Next up, he told the crowd at the Comedy Cellar's 11:30 PM show on Sunday night, was Louis C.K. And then there he was, standing just a few feet away from Randall's table by the stage at the dark, subterranean New York City club. He'd showed up unannounced, like he has several times since he admitted to masturbating in front of multiple women without their consent, and now he was telling jokes Randall didn't want to hear.
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.'"
Liz Furiati, the Comedy Cellar's general manager, told VICE Randall wasn't actually asked to leave—instead, she said, Randall just walked out after an employee told her she couldn't yell at C.K. And as Furiati tells it, no one ever pointed Randall toward the door.
"That’s not the sequence of events," Furiati said. "At no point was she asked to leave, told to leave—at no point."
However it went down, Randall's account of the whole fiasco went viral on Twitter, where people lauded her as a "hero," offered to send her money on Venmo, and hailed that line about C.K.'s dick as the "heckle of the year."
The Comedy Cellar has caught a lot of flak for welcoming C.K. back onstage, especially so soon after he was accused of sexual misconduct—he had his first post-#MeToo gig there just ten months after the allegations against him surfaced. The club's owner, Noam Dworman, has defended letting the comedian perform, and rolled out a "swim at your own risk" policy that lets patrons take off, without having to pay their tabs, if they're uncomfortable with anyone who shows up unannounced.
Still, Randall said, it'd be nice to have a little more of a heads-up before an alleged sexual abuser takes the stage. When a comedian like C.K. plays a surprise gig at the Cellar, Randall said, folks like her can find themselves subjected to "nonconsensual performances"—forced to play audience to someone they don't want to support.
"If Louis C.K. wants to keep performing, if he wants to give people notice, that’s his right as a human being. Be my guest," Randall said. "But I want him to know—and that’s why I said what I did—you might take this platform, but it is not going to be a platform that is unobstructed. People are going to say what they have to say to make it hard."
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