In a new profile for GQ’s Comedy Issue, Sarah Silverman talks about what to do with her pal Louis C.K., who you might remember was accused, for years, of being a serial exhibitionist who masturbated in front of women comedians, some without their consent, a rumor confirmed with a New York Times investigation last year.
And when Silverman is asked about her feelings towards the “scandal,” she doesn’t really have a neat and tidy answer as to what to do with him, or rather what to do with her feelings for him. She says she’s spoken to C.K. since the piece and adds that: “Life is complicated. Love is even more complicated. But you can’t not do it. I don’t have some definitive sound bite or nutshell of how I feel about it, even to myself. But I’m also okay with that.” When asked if she hopes he comes back, Silverman says:
I think that there are people who were caught and there were people who were not caught, but the important thing is that they are forever changed. And if that’s the case, I don’t see any reason why they can’t continue being artists. Now, whether they’re popular artists or not is up to the audience. I have compassion. There are people that just deny everything they’re accused of and they continue to be the politicians or the filmmakers that they are. And there are people that come and say, I’m guilty of these things, and I’m wrong, and I want to be changed from this. And yet those are the ones that kind of are excommunicated forever. He’s my brother, so it’s hard. I may not have a very clear perspective on it, but I’m trying to.
She is less wishy-washy on the allegations against other friends like Aziz Ansari (who she says she’s still friends with and hopes “he’s dealing with things, looking inward, and will blossom from it”) and Al Franken, accused of sexual harassment by multiple women. She says:
I understand that I may have cognitive distortion, because I love him so much. But all I can say is, and he may not be excited about this, but he has no sexuality. I believe in my heart of heart of hearts he never copped a feel. The sketch, the whole Leeann Tweeden sketch, is online. You can see it for yourself. It’s not funny, but it’s innocuous. He may have touched some sideboob by accident, or a tush by accident, but I’m telling you, Franni is his best friend and constant companion, and he has eyes for no one else. I’ve worked with him for years. I’m so sad that he got bullied into resigning, because all he loved in this world was being a senator and representing the people of Minnesota.
Realizing the bad men are calling from inside the house is difficult, for anyone who has found that a man close to them has used his power to abuse other women. But what strikes me about Silverman’s response is that she doesn’t seem to question how C.K. may have used her support negatively. For example, compare Silverman’s reaction to Tig Notaro’s response to the allegations, who exists on the opposite end of the spectrum and has fully denounced C.K.’s work. “He knew it was going to make him look like a good guy, supporting a woman,” Notaro told the Times. And it’s wild to me that even after several women come forward with allegations against Franken or C.K., Silverman struggles to consider if the allegations are serious enough to deny them the right to do their job in the exact same space where they were just groping women not so long ago.