Actually, it wasn’t announced. It was surreptitiously posted on the Improv's website. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the shows were announced in an email to subscribers. There is no Facebook event listed. There was no marketing in advance.
Though the Pittsburgh Improv did not respond to request for comment, they are part of a national chain of comedy clubs. Improv Comedy Clubs recently provided a statement to The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. where C.K. also booked a show. “We see comedy as the final frontier and we don’t censor artists. We trust that our audiences can decide for themselves what their limits are. We understand that not everyone will agree with our decision and we respect their right to protest. We also respect Louis CK’s right to perform," the statement said.
C.K.'s show at the Improv in San Jose, Calif. last week also drew considerable backlash, as have many of his surprise appearances and shows during his "comeback."
In Nov. 2017, the New York Times reported allegations from five women who were either asked or forced to watch C.K. masturbate in front of them. “These stories are true,” C.K. said in a released statement. “The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”
Despite losing money, movie deals, and respect, C.K. still has power, which he now wields with an aggressive irresponsibility.
The complaint against sexual harassment and assault allegations is that it ruins the perpetrator’s life, but as we’ve seen time and time again, men routinely go back to work regardless of what they’ve done. Pick any random name from a list of celebrities who have faced harassment or assault allegations and they are likely still working, or at least still very rich.
Leaked audio of a performance at the Governor’s Comedy Club in New York drew attention because it included jokes at the expense of Parkland shooting survivors, Asian men's masculinity, and those who use gender neutral pronouns.
“You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot,” he said. “Why does that mean I have to listen to you? How does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot. You pushed some fat kid in the way. Now I gotta listen to you talking?”
He was referencing the activism efforts in behalf of Parkland survivors to strengthen gun control.
At his recent performance in San Jose, C.K. joked about masturbation and 9/11. “The whole point of comedy is to say things that you shouldn’t say. That’s the entire point,” he said. Usually the definition of comedy is something that makes people laugh.
The local Pittsburgh comedy scene is not exactly welcoming C.K.'s appearance with open arms.
Local comedian Shannon Norman looks down on the Improv for booking him in the first place. "I know people who book comedy shows in living rooms that are more professional, have greater scruples, and aware of their scene's local talent than that televisionless Buffalo Wild Wings," says Norman. He calls C.K.'s recent sets "the work of a man out of time."
Unlike with other performances, the Improv did not make a Facebook event for C.K.’s shows, nor did it make his image the cover photo, as is often done on Facebook for upcoming comedians. The Improv did not make a single post about his appearance. Still, the website indicates all three shows are sold out.
The ticket page for the event also includes a clause about C.K’s ownership of his material.
“Louis CK owns all rights in the content and materials, including any jokes and sketches (the “Materials”), delivered during his performance,” it states. “The Materials may not be copied, translated, transmitted, displayed, distributed, or reproduced verbatim (the “Use”), in whole or in part, in any form, media, or technology now known or later developed, without the express prior written consent of Louis CK,” it states.
It also notes that the show will be a “phone-free experience” and that use of phones, smart watches, recording devices are not permitted. Phone and other devices can be secured but unusable in Yondr cases. The product has become popular with comedians who know their words will offend but want to say them anyway without backlash, like Dave Chappelle and Joe Rogan.
The site does not indicate that writing utensils and paper are prohibited.
The Pittsburgh Improv did not respond to request for comment at the time of publication.