Famous comedians have turned to the same sleazy tactics as CEOs and politicians to protect their in-progress jokes

Consequence of Sound was the first to report that Pete Davidson has begun handing out NDAs to all audience members at his recent comedy gigs. Imagine buying a ticket, then showing up at a performance, where they give you a paper full of dense legalese threatening a $1 million dollar fine if you share anything about it anywhere in your life. This isn't just limited to videos on your phone; you're prohibited from even talking about the jokes you heard.

And if you refuse to sign? Here's a refund, there's the door. (Although hey, at least they're nice enough to offer you a refund.)

It's a ridiculous idea, one that reeks of the same entitled financial bullying that have kept people like Jeffrey Epstein, Donald Trump, and Harvey Weinstein in power, doing what they do. It's a tough guy act, saying "Respect my authority, or pay the consequences." In those other situations, however, someone might feel pressured into going along with the NDA to save their job or reputation; in Davidson's case, the only thing you lose is the privilege of seeing a live comedy show, I guess.

On one hand, I know that if I did sign the paperwork, I probably wouldn't be able to enjoy the show, knowing that I was there under duress, and that any comment about it that came attached to that little blue checkmark on my Twitter account might completely ruin my life.

On the other hand, the NDA's not going to work anyway. As my friend Andrew Husband points out at Forbes, Louis CK tried a similar tactic back in May 2019:

Louis's copyright notice was effectively binding agreeable audience members to a contract of sorts. Davidson's NDA, meanwhile, is an actual, honest-to-goodness contract requiring one's name, signature, and all sorts of other personal details to boot. So, unlike the former, the latter actually has a legal document to stand on. But this doesn't mean its legal claims are actually legal, or that, should a person or group decide to test them in court, it will hold up under scrutiny.


Besides, it's not like Louis's copyright notice did him any good. Critics and audiences alike are still talking about his new "comeback" tour in droves, both for its content and what it means regarding any potential recourse for his victims. So, what's to stop show attendees from discussing Davidson's more recent gigs?

Pete Davidson And Other Comics Who Think An NDA Will Work Should Reconsider [Andrew Husband/Forbes]

Images of Pete Davidson and Louis CK via Wikimedia Commons