T.J. Miller in “Silicon Valley.”
As comedian T.J. Miller wrapped up his first show during a hometown doubleheader at the Gothic Theatre in Denver Thursday night, he addressed the elephant in the room.
Miller told those in the nearly sold-out club that he didn’t like political comedy, saying it was one of the reasons he left his fan-favorite role on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” Then, in rapid succession, he unloaded a synopsis of what has happened to him since a woman accused him of sexual assault in December 2017.
He referred to his accuser as a “stalker from college” with mental health issues who believed “Kate (Kate Miller, the comedian’s wife) stole her life.” He accused the media of saying whatever it wanted without Miller being able to take recourse. He described darkness taking over, substance abuse and a subsequent breakdown.
At the end of the rant — which was met with applause — Miller finished his joke, a jab at the current administration.
This isn’t the first time Miller has addressed the allegations that he choked and punched a college girlfriend during sex, which he and his wife have already denied. But it apparently was the first time he did so on stage in his hometown, a city that initially showed support for the comedian before pushing him out once allegations became public.
And if the standing ovation at the end of the first show was any indication, Denver is home to plenty of fans ready to embrace Miller again.
The Gothic Theatre marquee for T.J. Miller’s show on Aug. 8. (Danika Worthington, The Denver Post)
Miller’s “Touring in Perpetuity” set included his usual absurdist humor. He quickly gained favor with shout-outs to his alma mater, East High School, praise for Denver and regional inside jokes that could only land in Colorado. He also launched into a vaudeville-inspired act of juggling, trombone-playing and use of ventriloquist dolls.
But the tensions of 2017 were a soft undercurrent throughout the evening, which included occasional digs at “clickbait” and the “trash pile media.”
RELATED: T.J. Miller on leaving Silicon Valley, his summer of controversy, and losing his mind: “I was stunting”
A man heading to the restroom was temporarily the brunt of Miller’s jokes before the comedian ultimately encouraged anyone who had to use the restroom to go ahead and do so.
“Nothing I say is funny enough for you to be uncomfortable,” he joked. The audience responded with stunted laughs and awkward silence, a stark departure from its typical full belly laughs, seemingly unsure of how to interpret the joke.
Miller also promoted a line of $20 hot sauces he created, saying, “I’m selling these outside. They’re autographed, so that means they’re worth less.”
T.J. Miller sold a line of hot sauce at his show at the Gothic Theatre on Aug. 8. (Danika Worthington, The Denver Post)
This wasn’t Miller’s first return to a Denver stage since the allegations. In March 2018, he sold out a show at the Comedy Works, adding a second one. On Sept. 17, 2018, Miller dropped into Colfax’s Lion’s Lair during an open mic night.
Writing about the experience in Westword, comedian Byron Graham said he and co-host Roger Norquist decided to not confront Miller directly, but rather on stage with jokes like “The proper way to apologize is saying, ‘I’m sorry!’” and “Give it up for a comic you won’t be reading about in Jezebel.” Eventually, Miller left.
Miller’s first major breakout role was on “Silicon Valley” in 2014. He also had a 2017 animated series called “The Gorburger Show” on Comedy Central, and has appeared in “The Emoji Movie,” “Deadpool” and “Ready Player One.” He’s scheduled to appear in an upcoming movie, “Underwater,” alongside Kristen Stewart.
In December 2017, the Daily Beast reported allegations that Miller sexually assaulted his college girlfriend. The woman, who remained anonymous, said the comedian assaulted her multiple times. Miller and his wife released a statement denying any wrongdoing.
“Sadly she is now using the current climate to bandwagon and launch these false accusations again,” the statement read. “It is unfortunate that she is choosing this route as it undermines the important (#MeToo) movement to make women feel safe coming forward about legitimate claims against real known predators.”
Later that month, an adult film star tweeted that Miller had sexually harassed her while filming Comedy Central’s “Mash Up.” A film critic and former friend of Miller also accused the comedian of sending a transphobic email.
I was harassed by both Tj Miller and the director Jordan Vogt-Roberts shooting for Comedy Central’s Mash Up. I’ve been saying Tj was an asshole for years. So there you go.
— Dana DeArmond (@danadearmond) December 19, 2017
In April 2018, Miller was arrested at LaGuardia Airport and accused of calling in a fake bomb threat from an Amtrak train, for which he faces federal charges.
A few months later, actress Alice Wetterlund, who played Carla Walton on “Silicon Valley,” called Miller “a bully and petulant brat” in a Tweet.
“It is definitely time to rehabilitate TJ MIller’s career!” she wrote sarcastically in another Tweet. “We can’t afford to lose talent at a time like this, we need more — not less — comedic hijinks such as *checks notes* calling in a fake bomb threat.”
Yes! It is definitely time to rehabilitate TJ Miller’s career! We can’t afford to lose talent at a time like this, we need more—not less—comedic hijinks such as *checks notes* calling in a fake bomb threat
— Alice Wetterlund (@alicewetterlund) July 17, 2018
Miller denied Wetterlund’s accusations while on SiriusXM’s “Jim Norton & Sam Roberts” show, dismissing her criticisms as an attempt to get headlines. Instead, Miller said the actress was the one who was hard to work with.
“It was not my experience that anyone was bullying her or being mean to her,” he said.
In 2016, Miller was arrested for allegedly assaulting an Uber driver who had differing opinions about Donald Trump. That case was settled out of court.
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