SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Protesters chanted outside the San Jose Improv Wednesday night as well-known, yet controversial comedian Louis C.K. hit the stage in front of a sold-out crowd.
“Louis C.K. has got to go,” yelled the group of nearly two dozen. “Shame, shame, shame on the Improv.”
The controversy surrounding Louis C.K. began in 2017, when he apologized to a handful of women who accused him of sexual harassment. Then last month, during one of his shows, he appeared to mock survivors of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting that killed 17 people.
Activists, including a local political action committee called Enough is Enough Voter Project, protested as the comedian’s fans trickled into the Improv.
“He is a sexual harasser,” said Enough is Enough Chair Michelle Dauber.
Despite the backlash, all three of Louis C.K.’s shows in San Jose were sold out. He is expected to perform Thursday night as well.
“It really angers me that he thinks San Jose is a safe place, that he can come here in our town, that we’re not going to protest,” said protester Jenny Higgins. “No, not in our town. It’s not funny, it’s not funny anywhere.”
San Jose Improv staff did not want to go on camera, but released a statement that read:
“We see comedy as the final frontier and we don’t censor artists. We want them to perform without scrutiny. We trust that our audiences can decide for themselves what their limits are.”
“That is the attitude that allowed Bill Cosby to be a predator in the comedy field for so long,” said Dauber.
She added that other activists called the Improv for comment about why they allowed Louis C.K. to perform at the club, but claimed they never got a response.
The night wasn’t without any incidents, however.
Police responded to a brief scuffle outside the club when a fan hit a protester, leaving him with a bloody nose, witnesses told KPIX 5. The protester was not with the Enough is Enough group and was across the street from the club, they said.
Louis C.K. has slowly made a comeback since admitting to sexual harassing women. At the height of his career he became the first comedian to sell out Madison Square Garden three times for the same tour, according to his biography.
“If they’re good at what they do and I appreciate their art then I’m OK continuing to appreciate it,” said Tiff Ting. She was first in line, and said she bought a ticket because she enjoys Louis C.K.’s comedy and doesn’t pay attention to the headlines he makes outside of his work.
“I’m here to laugh,” said fan Ryan Anderson. “I like him as a comedian. I’m able to separate artist from what he does in his personal life.”