Michael S. Schwartz/Getty
Michael S. Schwartz/Getty

For the past decade, Chris D’Elia, one of the country’s top club comedians who packs theatres hundreds of times a year, has enjoyed the special status afforded to a few middle-aged comics who grasp and expertly deploy devices of the Gen-Z internet. 

The 40-year-old stand-up, who has three Netflix specials and a Comedy Central special called White Male. Black Comic, has maintained massive followings across social media—on Twitter, where he has 1.1 million followers; on Instagram, where he has 2.4 million followers; on TikTok, where he has 158,300 followers, despite posting just nine videos; and, when it was around, on Vine, the zoomer internet ur-text, where he once shared his six-second videos with more than 2 million people. He also has a podcast. Its fans are called “babies.”

D’Elia’s capacity for meme-making has often ballooned out into elaborate online jokes. After D’Elia nailed an Eminem impression in 2018, the rapper shared the clip on Twitter, prompting the musician Logic to sample it in a single, “Homicide.” The end result: a music video where D’Elia played Eminem, Eminem played D’Elia, and Chauncey Leopardi played Logic—nodding to the common joke that they’re the same person—nesting meme into meme like some white-rap ouroboros.

But in the span of a few hours—beginning Tuesday evening and stretching well into Wednesday—D’Elia found the same platforms he once used to his advantage weaponized against him. It began with a tweet from a former fan named Simone Rossi, who shared screenshots of emails he had sent her when she was 16. In one, he asked for “a pic” (she sent a panda); in another, to “makeout.” The story spread when the popular Twitter account SheRatesDogs, which shares anonymous stories about bad exes, quote-tweeted the post with another screenshot, describing how D’Elia had once “exposed himself” to a hotel worker fixing his AC unit. “This is crazy,” Michaela Okland, who runs SheRatesDogs, wrote, “bc I’ve literally had this sent to me about Chris Delia as well.”

Okland was not alone. For the next 24-hours, Twitter filled with receipts—screenshots of texts, emails, Instagram DMs, Twitter DMs, and Snapchats from women, both underage and in their late teens or early 20s, detailing interactions with D’Elia, and sketching a pattern of how he allegedly wielded social media outside the public eye. Messages poured into SheRatesDogs’ inbox. On Tuesday night, after leaving her phone alone for an hour, she came back to 35 DMs. By the next afternoon, Okland told the Daily Beast, she had received “about 400.” 

Okland tried to share each new story in a thread, but couldn’t keep up. By Wednesday, she had tweeted and retweeted anecdotes involving 26 people—11 of which allegedly involved an underage girl; three claimed to involve a high school student, one of whom said she was 17 but “legal” in her state; and seven of whom fell between the ages of 18 and 21 (four did not state their age). “It was pretty immediate. I do think his scope is pretty incredible,” Okland said. “I don’t think anyone else has ever had that many stories.”

In addition to Okland, the Daily Beast spoke with 16 people about D’Elia, 10 of whom personally interacted with the comic and were able to substantiate their claims with emails, texts, and direct messages, dating back as early as 2011. Another spoke on behalf of a friend, but was able to corroborate the same. Nearly all requested anonymity, which The Daily Beast grants to minors and victims of sexual misconduct. Of those 11, three were underage when he messaged them; one was 18; two were 19; four were 21; and one was 25. (Two other sources who spoke to the Daily Beast claimed to have been 16 and 19, but could not provide documentation of messages because they used Snapchat). 

The women overwhelmingly described a similar story: posting something positive about D’Elia—often without tagging him—receiving a DM with his email, exchanging a few flirty messages, and then fielding requests for photos and meet-ups to “makeout” or “cuddle.” Three women said they responded to D’Elia’s requests for nudes, like Rossi had, with joke pictures—a puppy, a naked wombat, and an arm fold that “looked like a nude butt.” Two said that when things did not go the comic’s way, he responded with outrage, calling them “dumb bitches” and “stupid cunts.” 

Two said they had sex with D’Elia—one of whom said he complimented her “young pussy.” Two others cited near-sexual encounters. One said D’Elia pushed her against a wall, “began to take his pants down, and forcefully tried to have sex with” her. 

The Daily Beast reached out to D’Elia’s manager and agent for comment, but until Wednesday afternoon, the comic did not respond to the allegations. After he addressed the claims in a statement to TMZ, his manager linked to the piece:

I know I have said and done things that might have offended people during my career, but I have never knowingly pursued any underage women at any point… All of my relationships have been both legal and consensual and I have never met or exchanged any inappropriate photos with the people who have tweeted about me…That being said, I really am truly sorry. I was a dumb guy who ABSOLUTELY let myself get caught up in my lifestyle. That’s MY fault. I own it. I’ve been reflecting on this for some time now and I promise I will continue to do better.

In May of 2013, Jane*, then a 17-year-old high school junior, was spending a lot of time on Vine, watching D’Elia’s videos. Now an established comedian who tours nationally, Jane was just starting to get into stand-up, and liked D’Elia’s style. She found videos of his stand-up at the Laugh Factory, and tweeted about it. Jane hadn’t tagged D’Elia, but he found the post anyway—that much was clear when he direct-messaged her that day (“He name-searched,” Jane said). D’Elia’s intro was short, just his email: [email protected]. She dropped him a line.

Hi I saw your message on Twitter. I started watching your Vines not too long ago and thought they were hilarious. I was watching your stand-up on Youtube from the Laugh Factory. I think you’re great and I wanted to go to your show at the Laugh Factory tonight, but I’m not 21, which is a bummer. But I just like your style of comedy and I want to be a comedian, so I thought you would be a cool person to talk to about it.

D’Elia wrote back that the show was 18-plus. That wouldn’t work either, she said. Jane wasn’t 18 yet, though her birthday was in four months. He asked how old she was. She said 17. (The legal age of consent in California, where Jane lived, is 18.) The conversation waned. A month later, Jane followed up for comedy advice. “Hey,” D’Elia wrote, “Wen r we hangin?!” She was pretty available, Jane told him, “cause I’m on summer vacation.”

“Then Come over soon and let’s make out,” he wrote back. “Duh.” 

“If by make out you mean give me advice about comedy and be my mentor or something then that sounds cool,” she replied. “Don’t you have dogs and groupies you could make out with?”

“That wasn’t me ugh my friend grabbed my phone I’m sorry,” he said. 

(“Unless he’s a teenager, that’s just not what happens,” Jane later said about the chat. “Whose friend is looking at their email?”)

“It’s alright,” she wrote. “I would really love your advice whenever you’re free.” 

D’Elia never got back. But Jane’s actual relationship with him didn’t end. Over the next few years, she would get into comedy in Los Angeles, and start to see him at venues. “He was going to be someone that I would see often as a comedian,” Jane said. “So I was in this weird place where I was like, nothing really happened with this, I never went over to make out with him, I kind of shut him down. I couldn’t really say anything.” 

Three other women who spoke to The Daily Beast about D’Elia are also comedians—two of whom are fairly established, and one who just finished film school. D’Elia reached out to the latter, Emmy, who preferred to exclude her last name, in 2014. She was 16 years old and a junior in high school. “I watched a lot of [D’Elia’s] stuff,” Emmy said. “At the time, I was reaching out to a lot of comedians and saying, ‘Hey I like what you’re doing,’ you know, trying to connect—almost like networking in a weird 16-year-old way.” Emmy reached out to D’Elia with a photo of her dog, and told him they were watching his special. He thanked her.

In addition to stand-up, D’Elia has also appeared on several TV shows—as Alex Miller in Whitney, Danny Burton in Undateable, and, as not one, but two pedophiles. On a May 2011 episode of Workaholics, he breathed life into “Topher,” the pedophile fan forum lurker who posted under the handle, “Beiberhole69.” Most recently, in the second season of the Netflix series You, he played Henderson, a comedian who solicits sex from minors and stashes pictures of them in his basement. Several women who spoke to The Daily Beast said that the real life D’Elia also has a thing for photos. 

“The next day at 2 p.m.—which, in retrospect, is such a weird time to send a message,” Emmy said, nodding to a D’Elia bit called “Girls Are Random,” where he recalls a girl saying he texts “at the most random times” in the day. “He says, ‘Send more pics,’” Emmy said. She sent him photos of a wombat. 

“I’m 16 and just trying to combat his weird sexual advances with a joke,” Emmy said. “That’s what I want to do. That’s what he does—comedy. But he never responded. He stopped entertaining conversation with me… It was a very ‘don’t meet your heroes’ moment.”

Another comedian, Jill*, first interacted with D’Elia on December 21, 2011. She had just moved to L.A. and tweeted at him. He DM’ed her a quick answer. The next day, he followed up. First: “hi.” Then, his email: “[email protected].” She was 19 at the time. Over the following weeks, Jill said, they emailed much like other women have described. He asked for nudes; she said no. “He asked me to come over and said, ‘Where are you, let’s make out,’” Jill said. 

The second week of January, D’Elia invited Jill to his house in Sherman Oaks. She went, but got there late and had trouble opening the door. “I just remember he was so mad at me that I couldn’t get in,” she said. “This was our first face-to-face interaction after weeks of texting. His energy was just so dark and scary.” When Jill told D’Elia she was a virgin, his attitude allegedly changed. “He got so excited and said, ‘So if we had sex, it would probably like, hurt you.’ I said, ‘I don’t know. I’m a virgin.’ Then, I just got really scared and uncomfortable.” 

Rapport deteriorated from there. D’Elia allegedly told Jill he had taken an unidentified pill at a comedy club. But not long later, she claims, he accused her of drugging him. “So after 30 minutes, I left,” she said. The next day he texted to apologize, calling her a “sweet girl.” They didn’t speak again. 

Throughout the time Jill was emailing D’Elia, they corresponded at the address, [email protected]. But among the screenshots that have surfaced, and in several of the messages provided to The Daily Beast, other women reached him at a different email, [email protected]. “Here’s the thing,” Jill said. “Those are 2014, and this [her email exchange] was in 2011-2012. So, what I want to know is—how long has he been doing this? And how many emails has he been doing this from?”

It’s hard to say when D’Elia began his alleged messaging spree. But one of the women who talked to The Daily Beast was in touch with D’Elia even earlier than Jill, and then reconnected two years later. In the intervening years, she said, he changed his approach and became more aggressive. Their first interaction came in April 2011, after Sarah*, a then 19-year-old publicist from South Florida, stumbled upon some videos of D’Elia performing at The Laugh Factory. She tweeted at him, saying he was “hilarious.” 

At the time, D’Elia was far less famous. He has been acting since as early as 1996, but hadn’t started stand-up until 2006. By 2011, D’Elia toured frequently—in one interview he claims to have performed 430 shows in 2010—but had only just scored his breakout role on Glory Daze, and hadn’t yet appeared on Workaholics.

“Back then, he wasn’t really big,” Sarah said, and that came across. Their messages were casual. He told her to let him know if she came to town. Eventually, the chat faded. But when they reconnected on Instagram two years later, she said, the atmosphere was different. “He started getting a lot more brazen—asking for photos, trying to meet up. When he would have shows in Ft. Lauderdale, he would say, ‘Why don’t you come to my room?’ and ‘Come to my show, I’ll get you VIP tickets, you can stay in my hotel room,’ to kind of lure me to his shows.”

The requests for photos were constant, Sarah said, but she never entertained it. Eventually, she sent a photo of the fold of her arm, framed to look like a butt. “He got so mad,” she said, “Calling me ‘You stupid bitch, you stupid cunt, [asking] why would you do that?’”

If D’Elia had been messaging fans as early as 2011, the rumor first appeared online in 2013. That December, D’Elia held a Reddit Ask Me Anything—the site’s forum for Q&As. A user named u/DaywomanND asked, “Do you DM random girls on twitter that mention you to email them for entertainment? Because you’ve done that to me. Twice.” 

“Actually he does…….,” an account called u/michthebitch wrote back, “did it to a friend of mine in West Virginia….like wut.” 

“HAHA he totally does that!!!!” wrote u/twinsicle. “Can confirm – I know a girl that has hooked up w/him a couple of times (I think it’s still going on) and it started through Twitter.” 

The rumor made the rounds in interviews with D’Elia’s friends, not to mention endless allusions from the man himself. It got another signal boost as recently as two months ago, when u/MmmmmmMinty posted a since-deleted thread to the r/ChrisDelia subreddit, titled “D’Elia’s fiancé needs to know this.” It read:

Delia has a private SnapChat account that he uses to speak to and ultimately hook up with other women on the road and locally. He did not tell the women about his relationship or her pregnancy until it became public news. I can’t provide receipts for you, but I can provide receipts to her. His behavior has not stopped with their engagement. Daddy/daughter fetish, incredibly dominant, and his private snap name is Chank.

When pressed for evidence, she elaborated. “He likes long acrylic nails and likes to get head while you scrape his balls,” she wrote. “He is a dominant. He’s an equal opportunist but he prefers blondes that look really young (aka me, her, 2000 other bitches, I’m sure)…He lives in his phone and has probably seen this [sic].”

In the post-MeToo landscape, the accusations against D’Elia were unique in both the speed and scale of the response—so many girls had stories, so many had screenshots. The fallout was impossible to separate from D’Elia’s internet literacy, from the fact that he was so prolific on social media, and that his target audience was raised in it. They were primed to respond online; that’s where each cycle started. They had receipts. “Girls love chiming in,” as D’Elia put it in White Male. Black Comic, “Nobody likes chiming in more than a girl.”

* Not their real names. 

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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