Here's what went down during Louis C.K.'s set at Dave Chappelle's recent comedy show
Dave Chappelle's recent inclusion of Louis C.K. at his summer stand-up series caught some people by surprise, but all other details seemed wrapped in secrecy. Did C.K. actually perform? How did audiences react to the controversial comedian?
EW can confirm that C.K. did indeed perform the night of Aug. 4 as part of the ongoing Dave Chappelle & Friends: An Intimate Socially Distanced Affair (also known as Chappelle's Summer Camp online) in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
According to a source who attended the event and who requested to stay anonymous, C.K. served as the de facto "secret headliner," as his set followed those by Chappelle and comics Michelle Wolf and Mo Amer.
"It was a mixed-to-positive reaction at the beginning," they tell EW of C.K.'s surprise appearance. "He was not really on his game and he got some hecklers about halfway through."
The highlight of C.K.'s 20-minute set followed an interruption by a heckler who referenced the sexual misconduct allegations against the comedian, our source says.
The comic was doing "silly, non-distinct" impressions of random people and asked the roughly 250 attendees to give him suggestions. "From the back, some guy was like, 'How about the toilet seat you jerked off on?'" the audience member says. "People were like, 'Oh, crap. That was brutal.' And then he had a pretty good comeback, which was, 'I don't do my best material on these shows.'"
Although that earned C.K. laughs, we're told it generally felt like the comic was either phoning it in or workshopping half-baked material, as he had a notebook with him. Unlike his prior sets that garnered controversy, such as in 2018 when he mocked transgender people and the Parkland shooting survivors, C.K. stayed away from political or risqué topics this time around.
Still, the atmosphere during C.K.'s performance was uncomfortable, according to the audience member.
"Everybody was on pins and needles," they say. "Of all the people that could've been the secret headliner, it was way out of left field."
Ahead of C.K.'s set, we're told that Chappelle gave him a short-but-sweet introduction, describing the comic as "somebody whose comedy I admired for his whole career" and said "a lot of you will recognize him."
The two are longtime friends and in his Netflix comedy special Sticks & Stones, Chappelle stood up for the former Louie star.
"Louis C.K. was a very good friend of mine before he died in that terrible masturbation accident…He didn't do anything you can call the police for," the comedian said in his 2019 special. "They ruined this n—'s life, and now he's coming back playing comedy clubs and they're acting like if he's able to do that that's going to hurt women. What the f— is your agenda, ladies?"
Overall, C.K.'s segment notwithstanding, our source says the two and a half hours were enjoyable. The standout of the night for them was Amer's set, during which the Ramy star riffed about confusing governmental COVID-19 mandates. Besides Chappelle, no one else on the lineup was announced ahead of time when attendees bought tickets online.
Another reason for the positive experience was the lengths Chappelle and the organizers took with safety precautions in the face of the pandemic.
Seats came in twos, and everyone was spaced out 10 feet apart. Not only were there hand sanitizer stations, but we're told workers were around to supervise if people actually cleaned their hands. Additionally, there was a temperature check station, Chappelle-branded face masks for every attendee, and employees who scanned people with security wands. The comics themselves did not don masks but were separated from the audience by what resembled a fence and only one person took the stage at a time.
The staffers were so vigilant, the source tells EW, that any time an audience member pulled down their mask, they were quickly reminded to put it back on. They say they saw multiple people who had apparently attended previous Chappelle shows, as they arrived with branded masks.
"[Chappelle's] trying to prove that if you're responsible, you can do a good performance, some way some how," the audience member says.
Security was tight as well, as attendees had to put away their phones in Yondr cases that prevented them from accessing their devices until the event ended.
And with looming questions about whether Chappelle will actually publicly release any of the footage from the sets (aside from June's 8:46 special), our source says production had at least one video camera recording the performances. This means Chappelle is at least planning to archive and store the footage, if not release it.
Despite any of the event's hiccups, our source says they had a good time and from what they saw, so did others in the crowd.
"Overall it was an excellent and unique experience," they say. "When else are you going to see a comedy show in a giant field wearing a mask, with 10 feet between everybody? It's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
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