And while it’s people’s choice whether they feel comfortable paying to see Louis CK, his unannounced appearances at the Comedy Cellar have been controversial. Surprise sets from big names are a standard part of the stand-up club scene, but if you’ve gone out for a chill night of comedy, there’s a big difference between wincing at a bad-taste bit, and having to pick between sitting through an entire set by a self-confessed abuser or getting yourself out of there.
But there’s a third option: Klaire Randall found herself in the front row at a surprise CK set at the Cellar, and after realising leaving was going to make a scene, sat uncomfortably through the first few minutes – before becoming a hero and a legend.
Here’s what she told The Cut:
“I was giving him the finger as he walked up, but I don’t think he noticed. I just knew in my heart that I couldn’t sit there and be complacent throughout this set and also that I couldn’t laugh about it. Where we were seated made it very hard to leave. We felt stuck. … His jokes started out like “my life is hard now, I had a bad year, feel bad for me.” There was nothing like “hey I ruined my own life by masturbating in front of women.’
“Ten minutes or so in there was a little bit of a break, and he walked over toward the piano near where I was sitting to look at his notes. And in that moment I just yelled “get your dick out.’
“I wasn’t thinking at the time that it would become news, I wasn’t trying to make him mad or get laughs from the audience, I just knew that I could not sit in that room and let him think he had an uninterrupted stage.
“He looked shell-shocked. He looked directly at me, full eye contact and said ‘WHAT!?’ I repeat myself like, “get your fucking dick out.’
Randall says a Cellar staff member immediately came over and asked her and her boyfriend to leave – and they were more than happy to at that point.
Let’s be clear: heckling comedians is incredibly rude. It’s one of the worst breaches of comedy club etiquette you can commit.
In fact, heckling is rude enough to get you kicked out of the Comedy Cellar – but if you repeatedly masturbate in front of your professional colleagues, you’re welcome to stop by whenever you want.