But the owner of the Comedy Cellar, the New York club where the disgraced comedian performed nearly 10 months after he admitted to sexually harassing women, defended Louis C.K.’s appearance and called the venue a “free-expression outfit.”
Comedy Cellar owner Noam Dworman told The Hollywood Reporter Tuesday that he didn’t even know Louis C.K. was going to show up at the club to perform a surprise 15-minute comedy set. In fact, Dworman said he was asleep at home on Sunday when the comic walked on stage.
He also shot down a rumor that Louis C.K. paid to perform at the club, which the comedian used to frequent and had featured in the opening credits of his now-defunct Emmy-winning series “Louie.”
“He just went and told the emcee that he wanted to go on, and it’s pretty much autopilot at that point — the emcee let him go on,” Dworman said. “It’s not an open mike, but it’s Louis C.K.”
“On principle, I believe that the man is entitled to his livelihood and that it’s up to the audience to go or not go, I believe that in principle,” he added.
Dworman said that personally, he doesn’t always like what comedians say on his stage. He’s Jewish and has heard anti-Semitic jokes, but has never considered blacklisting or heckling the people who tell them, he said.
“I always felt this is their business. I don’t have to like them, and people should not take me allowing them to perform as my approval of their character or the things they’ve done in their lives,” Dworman said.
He did acknowledge that despite getting mostly positive audience feedback, he received one complaint from a person who “felt really upset by it and said he felt ambushed.”
“The ambush thing is a problem,” Dworman said. “In the future I have to find a way where nobody who doesn’t want to be there feels like a captive audience.”
According to Dworman, the Comedy Cellar set was Louis C.K.’s second performance since November, when the comedian announced he’d be taking a break from comedy after The New York Times published accounts of five women who said he’d made unwanted sexual advances and masturbated in front of some of them.
Dworman said the set was “just the most plain everyday Louis C.K. stuff” and that he wished the comedian had actually confronted the elephant in the room.
“I think that was a missed opportunity for him,” Dworman said. “I think that for a man who signed off from the public with this promise to, ‘I’ve talked for a long time, now I’m going to listen,’ he created the expectation of, Well now you’re back after nine months, what did you learn?”
Read the rest of Dworman’s interview at The Hollywood Reporter.