In his 11 years in stand-up, he was by far the worst rowdy Ariel Elias had ever encountered.
The comedian’s concert at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey on October 8 started like any other, so she never expected to become the subject of a viral video and the latest example from the comedy scene to the scene of a disturbing incident.
Elias had spent the majority of his 20-minute set talking about female body image before launching into a pre-planned Q&A portion of his set. A joke she ends on appears on some merchandise she sells after the show.
That’s when a woman in the audience, seated at a large table of people attending a noisy birthday party, yelled at her onstage, “Did you vote for Trump?”
“I wasn’t talking about politics,” she told CNN. “I think I was speaking honestly about my period. It was like she was looking for a fight, and I really don’t think I did anything to elicit that.
The woman was expelled. Then the man sitting next to her threw a can of beer – fast – at Elias’s head.
In the aforementioned video of the moment, many viewers react in shock.
Elias says she didn’t see the beer flying near her head, but she heard it loudly behind her.
“I just heard it against the wall and then I felt the backs of my legs were wet and I was trying to figure out what happened,” she says. “And then I looked down and saw the beer can and put it together and people were pissed that it happened, which was good. So I’m glad a mob mentality didn’t get the better of me.
At the moment, she picked up the can and discovered that it was still heavy with beer.
“I remember thinking, ‘Don’t let the adrenaline win. Take a sip. Be brave,'” she says. I thought, you know what? I’ve never needed a drink so badly in my life. And I think that’s kind of the only way out because I’ve still got five minutes of my set.
She knows she had the option to walk away from the scene and “no one would have been mad at me.” But, she thought, what about her stickers?
“I sell products after the show, and my best-selling sticker is based on my closing joke. I was like, ‘Well, I have to do the joke if I want people to come buy stickers afterwards.'”
So she finished.
Later, says Elias, “it was a lot scarier when we got home.” She had to watch the video to realize how hard and fast the beer was thrown.
“To be honest, I’m not the best at managing my emotions. So I think in six days I’m probably going to cry watching ‘Man vs. Food,’” she laughs.
His friends and family supported him; her parents told her they were proud, and her fellow comedians keep checking on her.
“Last night I did a few spots around town and everyone was like, ‘Are you okay?’ I think that’s really the question to ask myself,” she said. “Because the answer is, I don’t know yet.”
While Elias has decided not to press charges, the comedy club is. And while she doesn’t want to go back to the town where it happened, Elias says she loves doing stand-up and will continue.
“Please don’t throw things at me,” she said. “I love getting up so much. It’s my favorite thing in the world. I love traveling and being in front of people who are different from me.