Nine months after Louis C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, the comedian reportedly returned to the stand-up stage on Sunday for a surprise set at the Comedy Cellar in New York City.
Club owner Noam Dworman told The New York Times that C.K., 50, took the stage for a 15-minute set around 11 p.m. local time, performing for a sold-out crowd of roughly 115 people.
The Louie star “was very relaxed,” and was dressed in a black V-neck T-shirt and gray pants, the outlet reported.
He did not mention the allegations against him, and instead worked his way through “typical Louis C.K. stuff” like racism, parades, and tips for waitresses. “It sounded just like he was trying to work out some new material,” Dworman explained to the Times. “Almost like any time of the last 10 years he would come in at the beginning of a new act.”
The audience greeted C.K. with a standing ovation, said Dworman to the Times — though one attendee has since called the club to object about the appearance, the owner recalled, wishing he had known in advance “so he could’ve decided whether to have been there or not.”
The New York Times published an article in November in which five women detailed their alleged experiences with C.K., including claims he masturbated in front of them.
Comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov alleged that while with C.K. in his hotel room after their show at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in 2002, he “proceeded to take all of his clothes off, and get completely naked, and started masturbating.”
Comedian Rebecca Corry alleged that C.K. “asked if we could go to my dressing room so he could masturbate in front of me” while filming a TV pilot in 2005, and writer Abby Schachner alleged she heard him masturbating through the phone during a 2003 call. A fifth, anonymous woman alleged that while working on The Chris Rock Show in the late 1990s, C.K. masturbated while she sat with him in his office, and a co-worker corroborated her story to the Times.
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C.K. responded with a lengthy statement in which he admitted that “these stories are true.”
He added, “The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them … I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
Since then, FX severed ties with C.K., whose shows Louie and Better Things aired on the network. C.K. was dropped by all his reps, too, while Netflix cancelled an upcoming stand-up special and HBO cut all of his content from its library. Orchard also canceled the release of his film I Love You, Daddy — though C.K. bought the rights to the title back.
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