When Kelly Bachman stepped into Downtime Bar NYC for a night of comedy, the last person she expected to see was disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
And yet see him she did, sitting at a reserved table in the corner of the bar, invited by, she says, the hosts of Wednesday night’s event: Actor’s Hour. She couldn’t believe her eyes, but she was even more surprised when several people took the stage without even acknowledging Weinstein’s presence in the crowd. Bachman would not follow suit.
“I’m a comic, and it’s our job to name the elephant in the room; do we know what that is?,” she said as she took the stage in a now viral video of her set. “It’s a Freddy Krueger in the room if you will. I didn’t know that we had to bring our own mace and rape whistle to Actor’s Hour.”
And while several audience members boo’ed the joke, others took it even further, including one of the evening’s attendees, Zoe Stuckless, who yelled directly at Weinstein until they were allegedly stopped by his bodyguards and removed from the bar.
Later on, Bachman’s friend Amber Rollo also confronted Weinstein: “I went in and called him a f—ing monster and told him he should disappear. His friend/body guard/goon/family member called me a c—t, and I really really wanted to lunge over the table and strangle him,” she wrote on Twitter.
Now, after gaining almost 30,000 Twitter followers overnight, Bachman speaks with Variety about the Actor’s Hour evening, Harvey Weinstein and why she thinks it’s important to speak out.
Walk me through the evening – when did you realize Weinstein was there?
I arrived at the venue, Downtime, and when I walked in, to my left I saw him sitting at a table surrounded by friends, and I did kind of a triple, quadruple take of “Are you kidding me. Harvey Weinstein is not in jail?” … I was just freaking out. I actually was sitting on the floor in the corner having a panic attack, debating whether to say any jokes at all. I had actually come to do a new stand up set that I wanted to have a tape for because they were filming the event, so I wanted to get a nice tape I could send out to people, and that’s kind of ironic.
I really didn’t want to risk or talk to the audience or talk about current events because I wanted to get a good evergreen tape. And I saw him there, and I thought, “I’m going to have to say something, and it’s going to ruin my tape.” And my friend next to me said, “Just do your regular set, don’t let him ruin your tape. You wanted your tape; get your tape. He can’t take that from you.” And I was like, “Yeah! I’m going to get my tape.”
And then I saw him over there, and I just saw so many people treating him like it was normal and talking to him, and I was just like, “Ugh,” and I asked the woman next to me, “Should I say something? It’s Harvey Weinstein, I gotta say something, right? I’m about to do stand up.” And she said, “No don’t say anything.” And she said it in such a way that I was like, “Oh, I have to say something.”
So I started texting my friends, asking while the show was starting, “What should I say?” I asked social media, you know, and the host went up, the emcee, and he wasn’t calling anyone out. He actually was only calling out people for texting, like me … but no it’s fine when pariahs are sitting in the back of the show. So he didn’t mention Weinstein; the next couple performers didn’t mention Weinstein. Then it was me …
It felt like there was no air in the room. I was panicking. I felt triggered. I felt traumatized. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I had to say something, but I didn’t know how much I was going to get out. So I said what I could, and I didn’t get fully through the joke that I wanted to tell because they started booing me, but I said as much as I could and when one man said, “shut up” it triggered me so hard that I just, the only thing I could think of after that was just, “f— you.”
What was your reaction to the boos from the crowd?
I mean, I am a person who has unfortunately been sexually assaulted by three different individuals, and I’ve been through the experience enough times to know what people are capable of in terms of how they respond when you tell them. And after the way that I have been treated every time that I’ve been through that experience, I always expect silence and boos. So I was pretty prepared for that to happen. But I also get the hugs and support from women that I got, and I expected that too.
What has it been like seeing all the support online?
I’m just kind of, I know that it’s better to speak out than to not speak out. And so as overwhelming as it is I just know from my own experience that I’m always going to feel better when I say something versus if I don’t, even if it hurts to say something. It just always hurts more for me to not say something.
Have you spoken to Zoe or Amber since your set?
Amber is a good friend of mine; she was at the show supporting me, and Amber and I are in a band @ Boys Drool, and we host a comedy show together, so she’s my comedy sister. I talk to her all the time. I don’t know Zoe at all, but I am a fan of her existence. I thought she was the bravest person there. I mean, she did what I wish I could have done, which is make everyone extremely uncomfortable and lean into that and not budge. And I left when she left because it was my chance to leave. And I really wanted to leave. I felt trapped down there; it’s a basement, and Harvey was sitting by the door, so I didn’t really want to walk by him.
Has Weinstein been at these events in the past?
People kept telling me that he was definitely at the last Actor’s Hour show, and that both times he had a reserved table, which Actor’s Hour reserved, so I don’t know what the deal is with that. But I’m not a fan of Actor’s Hour anymore, and neither are any of the comedians I know.
What do you hope people take away from watching your set directed at Weinstein?
I hope it becomes normal and not news to call out evil when you see it. I hope it becomes the norm to not be complicit and to want a room to be safe for everyone in it. I think it’s pretty surprising to me that it is news. I understand why it is, but I thought we were all in agreement that this guy is bad, so I’m just like, yeah, this is something we can all agree on. Yes, Fox News will email me about this and so will CNN because we all agree. It’s not like I was bringing up one of the controversial, gray-area questions of our time. This is the guy who seemed like a villain even before we knew for sure, and now he is a villain, so why would I still find myself in a space in progressive Manhattan where young artists my age are welcoming him in? So that is pretty shocking to me, but also un-shocking in that people suck. But there’s always good people too.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.