Protesters Plan to Descend on Louis C.K.’s San Jose Gigs

Pressuring women to watch him fap apparently didn’t do enough to sabotage his career. So Louis C.K., by several accounts, rebranded himself as a reactionary old geezer.

In pirated audio of a New York standup set widely flayed as mediocre and unfunny, C.K. punched down with japes against non-binary folks and Parkland massacre survivors and how he lost $35 million in a day because word got out about him being a predatory lech.

The 51-year-old comedy legend still sells out shows, albeit at smaller venues than in his heyday, and has plenty of defenders. Many bookers throughout the U.S. support his continued work in the industry on principle, saying comedy clubs are bastions of unfettered expression and that they feel obligated to protect them as such. (That’s arguably beside the point, considering how the misconduct in question occurred entirely offstage, and how detractors generally seem less offended by the subjects of his leaked jokes than by their lack of redeeming punchlines.)

Regardless, C.K.’s appearances of late are more likely to prompt outrage and protests, including his most recent stop in Silicon Valley.

Moments after the San Jose Improv announced Monday that C.K. was set to perform on two nights this week—days before the third annual Women’s March—activists opted to fight free speech with free speech, launching online petitions and planning demonstrations to denounce the club’s booking.

The Enough is Enough Voter Project, a political action committee that aims to hold leaders accountable for sexual misconduct, teamed up with organizers of the Bay Area Women’s March in calling for a boycott of the show. They will also convene a protest outside the downtown theater for booking C.K. and for ticket-holders validating the venue’s decision to do so.

“The Improv should not give a serial sexual harasser a platform in our community to make light of the harm he caused to his victims,” says Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor who founded Enough is Enough last year after leading the successful recall of Judge Aaron Persky for his light sentence in a high-profile rape case.

A Change.org petition launched by Nicole Coxe echoed that sentiment.

“As customers and/or residents of San Jose, we need to express to the owners that the decision to book Louis C.K. will lead to losing our support to attend future events at the venue,” Coxe wrote in the campaign, which garnered only a few-dozen signatures by this morning. “The decision seems especially tone-deaf in light of his recent performance in NYC … He is not the victim in this, and he does not need our help to launch a comeback.”

Jennifer Higgins Bradanini, president of the San Jose Women’s March, says situations like this underscore why the global movement of  pro-equality rallies is so important. “Powerful, rich and famous men like Louis C.K. and R. Kelly are able to victimize women with impunity, especially women of color,” she states in a news release Tuesday. “Obviously, there is still a lot of work to do.”

Local comedians and impresarios have hesitated to comment publicly about the Improv’s decision to book C.K. Santa Cruz-based standup DNA, who has organized comedy shows and festivals throughout the state for the past decade, says he’s disheartened by the club giving C.K. a platform. From a business standpoint, he says it makes sense.

“Tickets sold quickly; people will attend and fatten the bottom line,” DNA concedes.

To him, though, even that wouldn’t make it worthwhile.

“I will never give somebody whose actions have hurt other comics’ careers a space on my stage at the Comedy Lab,” he says.

DNA recalls several times over the years where he’s had to decide whether a comic’s “creep factor” outweighs their other qualifications. If a performer becomes a threat to people around them, he explains, then it’s up to the comedy community to take a stand.

“Unlike the Improv, I’m not a soulless corporation. I believe in comedy community. I want to unify comedians to be stronger, and that sometimes means cutting loose dead weight. Popularity shouldn’t be the barometer on which decisions are made.”

Should C.K. be banished from the scene? If so, for how long?

“I’m no judge, nor jury,” DNA continues, “but as a promoter, I want to stoke the fires of comedians who understand the value of the comedy community and don’t use it as a receptacle for their unwanted jizz blasts.”

The Improv shared news of C.K.’s sets on its website—nowhere on the club’s social media accounts, however—in a bio highlighting the comedian’s Peabody Award, six Emmy wins, eight standup specials and three sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden.

No mention, though, of his other notable endeavors, such as cornering women to watch him masturbate, or cavalierly downplaying an ex-partner’s claim that he gave her a sexually transmitted disease. There’s no mention either of controversies haunting some of the other talent in the club’s lineup of all-male headliners booked through July.

T.J. Miller, who’s due to perform Feb. 22 to 24, is accused of, among other things, raping and punching a woman in college.

Donnell Rawlings, who’s slated for the weekend of Jan. 25 to 27, told a TMZ interviewer that most of the women raped and assaulted by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein should have known that sexual violation was the price to pay for the chocolates, the champagne, the hotel suites and the work.

The ex-bodybuilding HodgeTwins, booked for March 10, lost gigs after making a name for themselves as transphobes and being a male version of the Diamond and Silk duo, ultra-conservative African-American #MAGA boosters with a social media following.

And so on.

“The comedy old-boys club enabled Bill Cosby and Louis C.K.,” Dauber remarks. “Clearly it’s still a problem.”

Improv managers warn that C.K.’s Wednesday and Thursday night sets, which sell for $35 to $85 a pop, are not for the faint of heart. A paragraph-long promotion on the theater’s website says C.K. is trying new material that’s “XXX adults only.”

Hopefully that doesn’t mean he’s taking his pants off.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

32 Comments

  1. > The Improv should not give a serial sexual harasser a platform in our community to make light of the harm he caused to his victims,” said Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor . . . .

    What kind of law school employs a “law professor” who agitates for suppression of the arts and censorship?

    If Stanford Law School DOESN’T lose it’s accreditation, then accreditation is a joke.

    Stanford Law School students should ask for a refund of their tuition, demand that their student loans be cancelled, and get their law degrees from Trump University.

    • This law professor has no problem with Louis Farrakhan, a rabid and open anti-Semite. I guess masturbating on a phone is a crime against humanity, but Farrakhan supporting Adolf Hitler is just goofy hi-jinks.

      • The point is that people on the Left used to support free speech. Now, many on the Left have abandoned many of the traditions of classic Liberal thought.

        • And demonstrating is not free speech? He’s allowed to speak, but I don’t see what’s anti-free speech to demonstrate against him and show that his behavior and lack of repentance are reprehensible.

          As far as Farrakhan is concerned, not that it has the slightest thing to do with the topic at hand, the man is reprehensible and despicable, his recently revealed ties to scientology show how eager he’s been to monetize gullible followers, like a two bit Trump.

        • > Or understand the difference between “its” and “it’s.”

          Great work, LordJohn.

          You’ve certainly justified your carbon footprint.

          I’m recommending to Dan Pulcrano and Jennifer Wadsworth that you be put in charge of apostrophes for all of Metro and San Jose Inside.

  2. Great article and reporting on the future line up of comedians at the San Jose Improv. Speaks volumes!!

  3. Just don’t go see him. It used to be that if you didn’t like what someone said you just would turn the channel or whatever or not go see them. Now we live in a world where if someone says or does something that we don’t like, they aren’t allowed to exist anymore. We’ve decided to enforce accountability against what the courts decided. Even when they’re tried by jury. I’m not saying you have to be happy with him. But why bother going out of your wat to protest? EVERYBODY knows what he did. The people seeing him and the places booking him already don’t care. You being pissy about it outside a club won’t really change that.

    • That’s a valid question. I guess progressives have lost sight of core values from the past – democracy, the US Constitution, freedom of speech, equal rights. They have become seduced by power and money, and have given in to the Dark Side. They no longer support innocent until proven guilty or freedom of speech. It’s unfortunate.

  4. Brave man. Silicon Valley is like Nazi Germany, replace the Nazi Party with the Democratic Party. You’re outcasts, you don’t have a voice, and any criticism of Liberals is summarily tamped down.

    Waiting for door-to-door checks for any evidence of Conservatism.

    • The Left are ahead of you in Germany, they are coming after women with braids and who wear dresses. It will only get worse as the media, entertainment, and academia are all unified in driving this Interesectionality propaganda.

      Louis CK seemed like a whiny ginger and before this came out and I wasn’t surprised he had some weird kink. I just didn’t think he was funny (humble bragging and virtual signalling rarely are) and didn’t get into his show. Now I might becasue he has stopped trying to fit into that nonsense. Good for him.

      The protests help him, not hurt. So Joe/Jay/whoever-you-are, I am sure Mr. CK is grateful for all the work you and Mother Dauber are doing. Look at Jordan Peterson, who is basically a Chesterton/Lewis redux just less concise, almost 100% of his rise is thanks to the crazy Left.

  5. Did I miss something? I don’t remember this guy holding up the lifeless severed head of Hillary. Did he call African American women bitches and whores? Did he have a first lady look-a-like come out and do a strip tease or lap dance on SNL? I thought good liberal woman found all these things funny and guaranteed by the first amendment, a real right.

    Well come on fuzz balls laugh it up! Get a free abortion with every ticket sold!

  6. It’s amazing how shortsighted everyone is. Louis C.K.’s show at Improv is not the problem. He performs his stand up comedy acts for a living. it’s his job, so he will always do it for as long as there is demand for it.

    The real problem is that the San Jose’s downtown in its entirety is being sold out to wealthy businessmen and corporations with questionable moral orienteers. Look up info about sexual harassment cases at Google and Uber, for example. Google is building a campus next to Diriodon while Travis Kalanick is buying buildings in downtown.

    To finish my thought about Louis CK, the Improv building was just purchased by Mr. Gary Dillabough who probably pulled some strings to book the famous comedian for two nights at Improv. It’s an interesting choice, isn’t it. Of all possible artists who could’ve invited, he chose LCK, an artist who is notoriously famous for his misconduct in the past.

    It’s great to see all the progress in downtown, but is it really going to create a better world for all of us?

  7. Here’s an idea. If you find Louis CK’s behavior deplorable, don’t go to his show. It’s that simple. But please don’t tell me what I can and can’t watch.

  8. Just saw his show – it was hilarious. He explains what he is trying to do in the show. Anyone with a sense of humor about themselves should see it – what I saw at SJ improve is developing to be better than any of his specials.

  9. Great publicity. Didn’t even know he was in town until people started to protest. That might be the funniest part. Oh ya, what are they protesting?

  10. They are protesting a mother f***er with no respect for women coming to San Jose, CA, modern feminists’ territory.

  11. When are we all going to back down? Or better yet, when is enough, enough? I think it’s just a bunch of BS. He’s a comedian. Get over it, That’s what he does. If you don’t like it, don’t go. If you don’t like it, write him. Anyone and I mean anyone that goes and protests is a blithering idiot and needs to go look in a mirror so they can see what a real Bozo looks like. OK, got to go, need to find tickets for his show, I for sure want to go now.

  12. > “The comedy old-boys club enabled Bill Cosby and Louis C.K.,” Dauber remarks. “Clearly it’s still a problem.”

    Fake “law professor” (“by courtesy of sociology”) Dauber is now also a fake comedy critic?

    Actually, it IS kind of funny.

  13. > “[__________] should not give [______________] a platform in our community to make light of the harm . . . caused to . . . victims,” says Michele Dauber, the Stanford law professor.

    “[San Jose Inside] should not give [San Jose Outside The Bubble] a platform in our community to make light of the harm caused to … [fake law professors],” says Etaoin Shrdlu, the Stanford law professor.

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