The embattled comedian, who faced a series of sexual misconduct allegations in 2017, took the stage of San Jose’s Improv Comedy Club on Wednesday for the first of three sold-out performances. (He’ll be back there Thursday.)
The shows are the first to showcase him as a properly announced headliner since his fall from grace; he has been previously popping up and surprising audiences in East Coast comedy clubs.
The full house at Wednesday’s show was countered by a few dozen protesters outside, many from the San Jose-based Enough Is Enough Voter Project, chanting, “Shame!” and “San Jose, not Man Jose.” The demonstration even led to a thrown punch, reported the San Francisco Chronicle.
Onstage, the Emmy Award winner immediately acknowledged the controversy surrounding him.
“I like to jerk off, and I don’t like being alone,” he said after receiving a standing ovation, according to the Daily Beast. “You’ve read the worst possible things you could read about a person, about me, and you’re here.”
The “Louie” star defended his right to make questionable comments in his act, saying: “The whole point of comedy is to say things that you shouldn’t say.”
Throughout the night, he reprised some of his controversial material, including jokes about black and Asian men’s penis sizes and “retarded” kids.
Though he didn’t repeat any of his Parkland-related punchlines (which sparked outrage on social media), he made sure to reference them: “If you ever need people to forget that you jerked off, what you do is you make a joke about kids that got shot.”
The comedian also went with a joke about 9/11 that he had made earlier in his career.
“I got on a plane once,” he said. “And this couple comes up to me as we’re boarding. There’s an empty seat next to me, and this woman says to me, ‘Would you mind moving so my husband and I can sit together?’ And he’s behind her and he’s like [motions — no]. I didn’t know what to do. I don’t wanna upset him. But I don’t wanna sit with his ... wife.
“So I just got off the plane,” he continued. “And then the plane took off. And it hit the World Trade Center.”
This joke was met with more groans than laughter, according to the Daily Beast. Such seemed to be the general consensus among the audience by the end of the set.