Since August, Louis C.K.’s return to stand-up has been mostly limited to venues in New York like the Comedy Cellar and Governor’s in Long Island. Now he has officially delivered his first West Coast performance thanks to the Improv in San Jose, which booked C.K. for three sold-out shows this week, including one last night and two this evening.
According to the Daily Beast, C.K.’s set last night brought back some jokes from his leaked December performance, including a joke about black and Asian men’s penis sizes with the punch line “All Asians are women.” There was also some new material referencing his own sexual misconduct, including the line, “I like to jerk off, and I don’t like being alone.”
“You’ve read the worst possible things you could read about a person, about me, and you’re here … The whole point of comedy is to say things that you shouldn’t say. That’s the entire point,” C.K. also said during the set, which reportedly drew about 30 protesters outside the venue. C.K. further referenced his sexual misconduct with a joke about how comedy is like porn: “Then he made a joke about a porn star’s asshole,” the Daily Beast notes, “and concluded that the world needs porn because it somehow keeps men from molesting their colleagues at work.”
C.K. used his sexual misconduct as a punch line again in a joke that explained why his leaked December bit about the Parkland shooting survivors was cut from the San Jose set, telling the crowd, “If you ever need people to forget that you jerked off, what you do is you make a joke about kids that got shot.” The set also included less well-received jokes about 9/11 and a riff on “retarded” kids. Despite C.K.’s apparent dependence on shock-value jokes, the Daily Beast reporter notes that after speaking with some audience members who received his set less warmly, “They weren’t offended, they just didn’t think it was funny.”
The San Jose Improv is the first West Coast comedy club to publicly announce multiple C.K. stand-up performances. It remains to be seen what other venues will welcome C.K. onto their stages, but the issue remains highly divisive among comedy bookers, producers, and comedians around the country. “Some people have called comedy clubs the last bastion of free speech in America. I believe that and feel a duty to protect that concept. With that in mind, I’m very reluctant to disallow an individual stage time because of their views or personal life,” Bob Fisher, owner of the Ice House in Pasadena, told us earlier this month. “If Louie C.K. were to ask for time onstage, I would allow it as long as I could advertise his appearance in advance. I’d want those in the audience that night to know he was going to appear.” Los Angeles–based comedian and show host-organizer Mike Mulloy, however, offered a very different response: “He doesn’t need to do stand-up to make a living. He’s a fucking millionaire. He should have to sit out twice as many years as he lied about it. He should have to sit out twice as long as the women whose careers he’s directly impacted. Any comic who disagrees can kiss my ass.”