On her Hulu show “I Love You, America” on Thursday, comedian Sarah Silverman bluntly asked: “Can you love someone who did bad things?”
She was speaking of Louis C.K., a fellow comedian who last week confirmed allegations of sexual misconduct in a statement saying, “These stories are true.” His remarks came in response to a New York Times story in which five women accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior, often in the form of him masturbating in front of them without their consent.
After the revelations became public, Silverman’s sister, Laura Silverman, took to Twitter and accused C.K. of masturbating in front of her “about 20 times” on a cross-country road trip “before he was famous.” She wrote that it was “Not criminal. But compulsive, rude & gross.”
Silverman did not address her sister’s accusations in her monologue. But she did compare the torrent of accusations of sexual abuse coming to light to “cutting out tumors.”
“It’s messy and it’s complicated and it is going to hurt,” Silverman said. “But it’s necessary and we’ll all be healthier for it.” Along the way, she added, “some of our heroes will be taken down, and we will discover bad things about people we like, or in some cases, people we love.”
For her, that person was C.K. The two have been friends and colleagues for decades. Silverman even appeared several times on C.K.’s FX show, “Louie.”
“One of my best friends of over 25 years, Louis C.K., masturbated in front of women. He wielded his power with women” in messed up ways, “sometimes to the point where they left comedy entirely,” Silverman said. “I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is, but that’s totally irrelevant, isn’t it? Yes, it is.”
“I love Louie,” she continued. “But Louie did these things. Both of those statements are true.”
She questioned if she can still love her friend, knowing what he’s done, but she said that thought can wait.
“I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims,” Silverman said. “They are victims, and they’re victims because of something he did.”
“I hope it’s okay if I am at once very angry for the women he wronged and the culture that enabled it and also sad because he’s my friend,” she concluded. “I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential. It’s vital that people are held accountable for their actions no matter who they are. We need to be better. We will be better.”
Comedian Marc Maron offered a similar sentiment on his podcast on Monday.
“Louis copped to it, and he copped to it late,” Maron said. “But he did it. And he’s my friend, and it’s a difficult position to be in, because I certainly can’t condone anything he did. There was no way to justify it. There’s no way to defend it. . . . There’s no way to let him off the hook.”
Maron admitted to hearing rumors of C.K.’s behavior and asking him about it. Maron said C.K. denied the story and wouldn’t speak about it, because speaking about it “would give it life.”
“I believed my friend,” Maron said. And now, “I’m disappointed in my friend.”
The comedian concluded that he’s going to be there for C.K. as he struggles with his compulsive behavior.
“So, what am I going to do? I’m going to be his friend,” Maron said. “It’s probably the best time to be his friend when he needs to make changes in his life.”
Maron and C.K. also share a decades-long friendship. The two had a falling out some years ago when C.K.’s career was taking off, but they reconciled in a two-hour episode of Maron’s podcast in 2010, which Slate chose as the best podcast episode of all time in 2014. On that podcast, C.K. hinted of his compulsions by sharing a story of masturbating in a peep show in Times Square, but the two did not discuss sexual abuse.
Pamela Adlon, another longtime friend and writing partner of C.K., distanced herself from the comic. The two shared a manager, Dave Becky, who was accused of threatening women who attempted to come forward with allegations of C.K.’s sexual misconduct. Though Becky denied these accusations, Adlon fired him.
Adlon also released a statement saying she was “devastated and in shock” to learn of the “abhorrent behavior by my friend and partner, Louis C.K.”
“I feel deep sorrow and empathy for the women who have come forward,” Adlon added.
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