Laugh Factory’s Laugh-O-Rama lineup for the club’s 9:30 p.m. show on Aug. 21 promised popular comics like Erik Griffin, BT Kingsley, Nemr, Sherri Shepherd, Kountry Wayne and Max Amini. The night kicked off with a quick warm-up set followed by a special announcement that next to the stage was a surprise guest — comedian Chris D’Elia.

“The crowd had a positive response,” says a source who took in the show. “There was definitely no booing, that’s for sure. I was expecting backlash or negative energy but really everyone seemed happy he was there and happy to enjoy the show.”

D’Elia proceeded to deliver a 20-minute stand-up set in what marked the comedian’s return to the stage since facing a wave of allegations last summer of sexual improprieties and engaging in lewd conversations with women, some of whom were underage at the time. D’Elia, who parted ways with CAA and was replaced in Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead, issued a statement in June 2020 saying “all of my relationships have been both legal and consensual,” adding that he was truly sorry.

“I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle. That’s MY fault. I own it,” the statement added. He followed it up with a 10-minute video in February during which he addressed the allegations, admitted he had a problem (“sex controlled my life”) while standing by his earlier claim that all relationships were “consensual and legal.”

The source inside last Saturday’s show, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Hollywood Reporter that they were aware of the allegations against D’Elia, but they prefer “to separate personal from the professional.” The source called his set “absolutely hilarious” and “the best of the night,” adding that D’Elia did not directly address the scandal but he did “joke about being canceled” multiple times. He opened up on seeking therapy, confronting anger issues and navigating the joys of fatherhood after having his first child, a son, while at the same time dealing with the heavier stuff.

“It was a lot of self-loathing humor. At one point, he made some crude jokes and said that he wasn’t sure if he crossed a line but that he couldn’t really be canceled twice,” the source said. “He was very funny about it.” Other jokes: He called out a man in the front row for being “too handsome and too fit” and pointed out a male audience member in the corner who was wearing shorts for an evening show. “He asked the guy if his mom let him leave the house like that.”

After D’Elia wrapped, the audience responded with a generous reception, the source concluded. “It was very well-received and everyone clapped.” News of his set comes on the heels of Louis C.K. returning to the stage for his first major set of U.S. dates since he apologized for sexual misconduct. C.K. kicked off the tour in New York in what also turned out to be a normal night of comedy, free of hecklers and protests.

“You can’t deny the guy the right to do what he does and try to make a living from it,” fellow comedian Marc Maron recently told THR of C.K.’s new set of gigs. As for D’Elia, he’s been active on the work front for six months now. After posting the February video, he’s back hosting his popular Congratulations podcast. He also posts the episodes on his YouTube page, with one of those clips generating north of 1 million views.

THR has reached out to a Laugh Factory rep as well as D’Elia for additional comments.

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