Comedian Louis C.K. has been accused of sexual misconduct in a New York Times expose detailing allegations that he repeatedly asked women he encountered in work-related environments to watch him masturbate.
The story also scrutinizes the behavior of C.K.’s longtime manager, Dave Becky, of 3 Arts Entertainment, suggesting that Becky used his clout in the comedy world to pressure women to not discuss their encounters with C.K.
C.K. declined to comment for the Times’ story. A rep for the comedian did not immediately respond to a request for comment, nor did Becky.
Comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov are among the women who detail what they describe as a disturbing encounters with C.K. Goodman and Wolov said they were shocked when he invited them to his hotel room during the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., in 2002 and allegedly stripped naked and began to masturbate. The women described themselves as being “paralyzed” during the incident and running out of the hotel room after C.K. ejaculated.
Goodman and Wolov told the Times they spoke out about the incident within the tight-knit world of standup comedians but felt the pressure to avoid shaming a powerful figure in comedy. “We could already feel the backlash” barely a day after the incident, Wolov said.
C.K.’s industry clout has grown significantly in the intervening years through his successful FX series “Louie,” his standup comedy tours and his innovative approach to financing and distributing his own standup specials and TV series “Horace & Pete” through his LouisCK.net website.
The timing of the Times’ expose is sure to compromise the prospects for his latest indie feature, “I Love You, Daddy,” distributed by the Orchard. The pic is scheduled to open Nov. 17 but already Thursday’s scheduled premiere in New York was tabled in anticipation of the publication of the Times’ story. The film — starring, written and directed by C.K. — revolves around a man who becomes concerned when his teenage daughter begins to develop a relationship with a much older filmmaker who has been in the center of multiple sex scandals.
The tarnish to C.K.’s reputation as a standard-bearer for comedians may also lead to fallout for FX, which has a production pact with C.K.’s Pig Newton banner. Pig Newton is a producer of FX’s much-acclaimed comedy “Better Things,” starring Pamela Adlon, and other development projects. The fate of “Louie” has been uncertain for some time. New episodes of the show have not aired since the conclusion of its fifth season in 2015. C.K. has said he needed a break from the highly autobiographical series but didn’t rule out revisiting the show in the future.
Comedian Rebecca Corry told the Times she was working with C.K. on a TV pilot in 2005 when he allegedly asked her point blank if he could go to her dressing room in order for her to watch him masturbate — an offer she refused. She told the Times she has long been haunted by the encounter. Courteney Cox, who was an exec producer on the pilot, told the Times she considered shutting down production but Corry opted to continue. Cox said she felt “outrage and shock” after learning of C.K.’s alleged offer.
Goodman and Wolov told the Times they felt pressure from manager Becky to stop discussing their incident with C.K. Becky told the Times he did not recall a specific conversation with the two but asserted: “I never threatened anyone.” Goodman and Wolov said they have steered clear of trying to work on projects associated with Becky.
Allegations of misconduct against C.K. have been swirling for some time. In March 2012, Gawker published a blind item that detailed an alleged incident at the Aspen Comedy Festival a few years prior. C.K. was not named explicitly in the piece, but it claimed that “our nation’s most hilarious stand-up comic and critically cherished sitcom auteur” invited two female comedians to his hotel room and proceeded to block the door with his body while he forced them to watch him masturbate. Speculation surfaced on Reddit and social media that the item referred to C.K. Comedian Doug Stanhope, a friend of C.K.’s, later claimed the story was about him.
Also in 2015, comedian Jen Kirkman described a male comic that many believed to be C.K. during an episode of her podcast. In the podcast, which was deleted shortly after it was posted, Kirkman spoke of “another guy who is a very famous comic. He is probably at Cosby level at this point. He is lauded as a genius. He is basically a French filmmaker at this point. You know, new material every year. He’s a known perv. And there’s a lockdown on talking about him. His guy friends are standing by him, and you cannot say a bad thing about him. And I’ve been told by people ‘Well then say it then. Say it if it’s true.’ If I say it, my career is over. My manager and my agent have told me that.”
“And this guy didn’t rape me, but he made a certain difficult decision to go on tour with him really hard,” she continued. “Because I knew if I did, I’d be getting more of the same weird treatment I’d been getting from him.” In a subsequent interview with The Daily Beast, Kirkman refused to speak further about the incident or identify C.K. as the man in question.
In an interview with the Village Voice in September, Kirkman said: “There are rumors out there that Louis takes his dick out at women. He has never done that to me. I never said he did, I never implied that he did. What I said was, when you hear rumors about someone, and they ask you to go on the road with them, this is what being a woman in comedy is like — imagine if there’s always a chance of rain over your head but [with] men, there isn’t. So you go, ‘Should I leave the house with an umbrella, or not?’”
In August, comedian Tig Notaro was asked about the allegations against C.K., who is an executive producer on her Amazon series “One Mississippi,” which also hails from FX Productions and Pig Newton. Notaro told The Daily Beast that C.K. is not involved with the series, despite the executive producer credit — and said that C.K. needed to address the allegations.
“I think it’s important to take care of that, to handle that, because it’s serious to be assaulted,” she said. “It’s serious to be harassed. It’s serious, it’s serious, it’s serious. And that’s what we want to do with [‘One Mississippi]. We of course want to create comedy, but we also really, really feel like we have the opportunity to do something with ‘One Mississippi,’ because it does not stop. And, you know, I walk around doing shows at comedy clubs and you just hear from people left and right of what some big-shot comedian or person has done. People just excuse it.”
In one scene from Notaro’s show, a female character is forced to watch as a male workplace superior masturbates.
C.K. has previously declined to address the allegations in detail. In a 2016 interview with Vulture he said of the allegations, “I don’t care about that. That’s nothing to me. That’s not real…[You] can’t touch stuff like that. There’s one more thing I want to say about this, and it’s important: If you need your public profile to be all positive, you’re sick in the head. I do the work I do, and what happens next I can’t look after. So my thing is that I try to speak to the work whenever I can. Just to the work and not to my life.”
In an interview with the New York Times this September, C.K. again addressed the allegations, saying, “I’m not going to answer to that stuff, because they’re rumors. If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real.”