Comedian Sarah Silverman confronted one aspect of the wave of sexual abuse and misconduct revelations that have come out in recent weeks: the anguish when the perpetrator is a friend.
“I wish I could sit this one out,” she says in a monologue for her Hulu show I Love You, America. “But then I remembered something I said on this very show: that if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable. So I’m going to address the elephant masturbating in the room.”
She means, of course, the comedian Louis C.K., one of Silverman’s best friends for more than 25 years.
“This recent calling out of sexual assault has been a long time coming,” she says in the episode that aired Thursday night. “It’s good. It’s like cutting out tumors — it’s messy and it’s complicated and it is gonna hurt, but it’s necessary and we’ll all be healthier for it.”
“It sucks, and 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.”
Multiple female comics have accused C.K. of sexual misconduct, including masturbating in front of them. Last week, C.K. admitted that “the stories are true” after previously declining to comment on the rumors about him. One of the women told The New York Times that for years afterward, she felt angry and betrayed and that the interaction was a factor in her deciding not pursue comedy.
“He wielded his power with women in messed-up ways,” Silverman continues. “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.”
After the Times story broke, HBO cut ties with C.K., the distributor of his upcoming film canceled its release, and FX canceled its deal with his production company.
“I love Louie. But Louie did these things,” Silverman says. “Both of those statements are true. So, I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them? I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims, and they’re victims because of something he did.”
Silverman says she is at once very angry — “for the women he wronged and the culture that enabled it” — and also sad.
“I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential,” she says. “It’s vital that people are held accountable for their actions, no matter who they are. We need to be better. We will better. I can’t [expletive] wait to be better.”