'I saw the beer can and I was like, I mean, I have to drink this. Like, there's nothing else I can do with this. This is the only way to recover.'
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 12, 2023. It has since been updated.
Comedians Ariel Elias and Gianmarco Soresi were standing at the back of Uncle Vinnie's Comedy Club in Point Pleasant Beach—a seaside town in New Jersey—watching the crowds beginning to arrive when they noticed a group of about 20 people, some of whom were wearing Mexican-themed costumes. The group seemed to be celebrating someone's birthday and already looked to be a few drinks in when they arrived at the BYOB club. Going on their appearance, Soresi jokingly predicted that the group would probably get thrown out for being too rowdy before the end of the night.
To answer the most obvious question, yes, I did pick up what was left of the beer and chug it. https://t.co/y6T0AWC1kQ— Ariel Elias (@Ariel_Comedy) October 9, 2022
"I was like, 'I hope they get thrown out during your set instead of mine,'" Soresi told BuzzFeed News. "Sure enough, it was worse than either of us could have possibly imagined." When it came time for her opening set, Elias delivered her usual material about body image and being a woman before opening it up for a Q&A as per usual to elicit laughs and work for the crowd. This was when one of the members of the rowdy group raised her hand and asked something totally unrelated. "Did you vote for Donald Trump?" the woman asked.
"Um, f**k," Elias recalled thinking at that moment. "I think it was mostly just like, Why are you asking me this? What's your endgame here?" Recognizing the direction the night could take if she didn't handle this unexpected situation, Elias did her best to diffuse the sudden tension in the room by deflecting the question with a joke. "Why would you ask me that knowing I'm the only Jew in this room? Are you trying to get me killed?!" she asked the woman, hoping that would be the end of it. However, the woman had other plans. "So you voted for Biden?" she yelled back. When Elias attempted to deflect again by asking how it matters who she voted for, the woman replied: "Yes, you did! I could just tell by your jokes you voted for Biden."
This experience has really taught me to trust my gut, and to fill that gut with beer.— Ariel Elias (@Ariel_Comedy) October 11, 2022
I'd really appreciate it if anyone could please just let my teachers know that chugging a beer has in fact been great for my career.— Ariel Elias (@Ariel_Comedy) October 9, 2022
"I can tell by the fact that you're still talking when nobody wants you to that you voted for Trump," Elias responded, eliciting cheers from the crowd. As she then tried to steer the show back on course with a story about getting an IUD, out of nowhere, a beer can was launched onstage, hitting the brick wall right beside her head with a thud. Elias looked at the can in shock as people in the crowd shouted in disbelief. Moments later, the comedian did something that was equally unexpected. "At first, I was in shock. Did that really just happen?" Elias recalled. "And then I saw the beer can and I was like, I mean, I have to drink this. Like, there's nothing else I can do with this. This is the only way to recover. I have to drink it. So I drank it!"
The crowd cheered as Elias picked up the beer can and chugged what was left inside before continuing with her set like an absolute boss. She explained that although she was overcome with adrenaline at that moment, she was determined to finish her set to at least hit her final punchline, as it is printed on some of the merchandise she sells after her show. "I was like, Well, I mean, I still want to make extra money tonight, so I have to do the joke!" she said. Elias revealed that one member of the rowdy group came to apologize on behalf of their friends when she finally got offstage and that another gave her $20.
definitely— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) October 9, 2022
this is the most metal and powerful handling of an incredibly precarious and dangerous situation. I'm obsessed. cannot imagine standing on that stage wondering what to do next while an audience member just like starts to invoke insane shit. stan ariel elias ! https://t.co/WUXlEWeICW— Mason (@y2k_bot) October 9, 2022
According to Club owner Dino Ibelli, the heckling woman and her male partner—who was reportedly the one who flung the can at Elias—quickly left the venue after the incident. Ibelli got in touch with local police the next morning after he was able to identify the patrons and handed over security footage of the altercation. Meanwhile, Soresi admitted that he was in awe of Elias for how she handled the unpleasant situation. "There's this idea that the brave comedian is the one saying the thing we're all thinking, and I’m like, just take a look at this video if you want to see what real bravery looks like as a comedian," he said. As for Elias, she is thrilled by the incredible response she received from a number of famous names in the industry after she posted the clip online. "I've been at this for a long time," said Elias, who has been performing comedy for 11 years. "It feels nice to have any positive recognition. Maybe it softens the blow—no pun intended—a little bit."