As someone who attends comedy clubs frequently, I’ve thought a lot about what I would do if Louis C.K. showed up to perform while I was there. Over the past few months, the comedian has been making surprise appearances at venues around the country in an attempt at a comeback. In his sets, C.K. has shown little willingness to reckon with the allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Would I walk out, in a bold declaration my feminist principles? Would I quietly sit through it, in the name of “civility,” (and curiosity?) Or, would I call him out face-to-face?
A few days ago, a woman named Klaire Randall found herself in this exact position when C.K. showed up for a surprise appearance at the Comedy Cellar. During a lull in his performance, she yelled at him to “get his dick out.” Immediately after, a staff-member indicated that she and her boyfriend should leave the club (Cellar reps told Vice she left of her own volition and was not asked to leave). She shared a tweet about the experience and it quickly went viral.
We talked to her about what happened. Here’s her story:
The first thing I thought when they announced Louis’s name was was that it had to be a joke. I was pissed off. I looked at my boyfriend and we had this moment of can we get up and leave right now, or do we sit through it and give this guy a chance?
I had read the articles about C.K. and I’d read his apology but I hadn’t done a deep dive on it. I just knew it generally all seemed skeezy, and that it’s wrong for anyone who uses their power to make women feel uncomfortable.
We were in the front row parallel to the stage; I was seated next to the piano. 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. Meanwhile people thought his set was hilarious, laughing and cheering throughout the whole thing. 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. I’d had one Yuengling, It was my first drink of the night so it definitely wasn’t liquid courage, and I’m definitely not someone who would be known for heckling.
He looked shell-shocked. He looked directly at me, full eye contact and said ‘WHAT!?’ I repeat myself like, “get your fucking dick out.” At that point, the crowd was jeering, there were a few boos coming from a few people. And before I knew it, a Cellar staff member came over at our table and put a hand on my boyfriend’s shoulder. He said “you can’t heckle the comedians,” and motioned toward the door. We already wanted to leave, so were happy to stand up and walk out on our own.
Since then, there has been so much love and support an overwhelming amount of women just saying that they’re proud of me. The real heroes are all the women who are brave enough to come forward about allegations and take sexual abusers down.
All I could think at the time was that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I had this opportunity to publicly call out an abuser to his face and I just quietly sat there. I was just thinking about every woman I know who has been sexually assaulted, sexually harassed or bullied in some way or another. And to see the rest of the audience just be so excited and legitimately happy that he was there was scary. Because I knew that everyone else was on his side.