Twenty years after the cops broke up a frat party, a cross section of American alumni woke up, tapped the remnants from the Budweiser kegs, put on attire from the first Instagram ad they saw, and headed to Portland for a night on the town. Or so it would appear, if you stood outside the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall on Friday evening.
Earlier that day, a tweet from comedian Alice Hamilton attempted to rally Portlanders to protest the Portland’5 Centers for the Arts booking of comedian, actor and podcaster Chris D’Elia, who was performing at the Schnitz that night.
In a message to me, Hamilton said when she saw the news that D’Elia was playing the Schnitz, something felt viscerally wrong to her. So she made a flyer and shared it as widely as she could. That flyer made it to a Willamette Week email inbox, and The Oregonian shared news of the protest as well.
“I do not understand how so many people in comedy can ignore this,” Hamilton said. “Taking all the rage I can muster and aiming it at a scumbag who truly deserves it brings me joy.”
Hamilton is originally from Portland, but now lives in Los Angeles. Her comedy routines often include takedowns of sexual predators in the comedy circuit, including a 2022 special called Cex Kriminal, which took aim at D’Elia directly.
She was concerned more people would show up to watch the protest than to join it, and that concern became a reality Friday.
Just two people, who gave me their names as Jordan R. and Alex S., stood outside the box office holding signs that read “Pedophiles are not welcome in Portland” and “Chris ain’t cool.” Alex had seen a show announcement in November and decided to protest the event.
Despite the fact they were alone at the protest, they decided to make their stand and hold their heads high.
“I heard about all the women coming forward saying how he coerced them, and they were underage,” Alex said. “I didn’t need to hear any more about that. I heard it once and said, ‘That’s awful.’”
A number of ticketholders seemed aware of the accusations, and weren’t shy about sharing their perspectives. One showgoer humped a tree while his friend took a photo, as another responded to the sign saying, “Innocent until proven guilty.”
According to Alex and Jordan, people in line made a number of snarky comments. In response to the “pedophiles” sign, one showgoer said, “You’re looking at one,” as his group of friends laughed along.
Just before the line fully ebbed inside, another fan wearing D’Elia merch—a “Life Rips” sweatshirt worn by countless attendees—spoke with Alex and Jordan, saying he had been a longtime fan and felt conflicted about the comedian. He went in anyway, “but he looked really bummed out,” Jordan said.
Asked why they focused on pedophilia when D’Elia has been accused by women of all ages, they told me it was a conscious decision.
“It’s like yelling ‘fire’ instead of ‘help.’ It will turn more heads,” Alex said.
According to The Oregonian on Friday, Portland’5 executive director Robyn Williams said the company had hired additional security in case of a protest.
“I hope the extra security is focused on keeping D’Elia away from any high school girls in attendance,” Hamilton said in a message to me.
As Alex and Jordan walked away from the venue, a woman on her cellphone yelled across the street.
“You know it’s alleged, right?” she said. “Canceling is not cool, and you should be careful what you say when it’s alleged.”
Hamilton said this is part of why the comedian is so dangerous.
“D’Elia was accused of rape, assault, flashing, groping, and pedophilia,” she said. “He’s gaslighting his way back into a career and it’s working. I’m not gonna stop until D’Elia is culturally irrelevant.”