(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

(Photo: Daniel Maurer)

Some weeks ago we heard that funnyman-turned-filmmaker Judd Apatow had been returning to his roots and doing surprise standup sets at the Comedy Cellar. And apparently he’s for real: we spotted him outside of the venue last night, having just dropped in for a set (seems Aziz Ansari also paid a surprise visit). And according to the Twittersphere, he’s appeared there at least nine times since May.

As the guy who gave us James Franco disappeared into the MacDougal Street night, we were kind of bummed that we had made reservations for the 9:45 p.m. show rather than for the 8 p.m., but at the later show we got a treat: after Judah Freidlander (who was awesome in Ping-Pong Summer, by the way) said he was sad and mad about getting more and more white hairs (meaning that his hair is gentrifying and he soon won’t be able to afford it), the night’s MC announced a surprise guest: Louis CK.

This is pretty much exactly what you want out of a visit to the Comedy Cellar, and the crowd howled accordingly as he took the stage wearing a blue Polo shirt tucked into blue jeans. But as he somewhat nervously consulted a notepad of new material, we wondered whether Louis CK had sent an imposter in his place, a la Andy Kaufman: this guy was completely clean-shaven, sans trademark goatee. If you want an idea of just how disconcerting that was, watch the below interview promoting The Invention of Lying, the Ricky Gervais movie in which he goes sans stache.

Anyway, as Louie started reaching back to touch the cellar’s brick wall in typical OCD fashion, we became convinced it was him and finally we could focus on the joke he was telling about watching rats have sex (what do they think about when they try not to come, he wondered: looking for food in empty garbage bags?)

We won’t spoil any of the new material, which touched on a childhood terrier who hated him, finding out from his mom that everyone dies, his daughters’ tap dance lessons (useful because by the time they grow up it’ll be the 1930s again), and what generalizations say about the people who make them (when a woman says men can’t commit, what she really means is that she hasn’t found a man who still finds her fun).

If you missed the show, try the Cellar on another night, or bite the bullet and get tickets to see him, Sarah Silverman, Hannibal Buress and more at the Oddball Comedy & Curiosity Festival at the newly Smorgasburgified Jones Beach.