This is a difficult post to write because it concerns rumors that have been floating around for several months (or maybe longer) about Louis C.K. We love Louis’ comedy, although we have noted some problematic (INTERNET WORD) statements he’s made about his ex-wife in the past. We also want to avoid sensationalizing this … this is not about “taking down Louis” but neither is it a defense of Louis. This is about trying to set the record straight, as far as we know. It’s about reporting what Jen Kirkman had to say, but in order to do so, we must provide context, and that’s where it gets tricky.
You see, the problem with the rumors is that … they’re rumors, so maybe we shouldn’t legitimize them by talking about them, but on the other hand, isn’t that what happened with Cosby? People just kept their yaps shut for decades because Bill Cosby is Bill Cosby, and we certainly don’t want to dismiss any valid accusations. At all. That’s where it gets complicated, because we are willing to take the word of anyone who makes these accusations, but the only accusation we really know about is that of Jen Kirkman, which — it turns out — wasn’t so much an accusation of physical sexual misconduct as it was calling out a guy — who may or may not be Louis C.K. — for making a creepy pass (a spectacularly creepy one, according to rumors).
Moreover, we are NOT saying that the rumors that pertain to Louis are ANYWHERE in the same ballpark as Cosby. Just that … they’re very problematic, if true, and these rumors have been stirring a lot in recent months.
However, what prompted the other rumors of which we cannot really speak, was a “blind item” from stand-up comedienne Jen Kirkman from her podcast back in May. Here’s what she said on her podcast (which was picked up by Jezebel and turned into a blind item):
And then I had 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. They didn’t threaten it. They just said to me “You know what Jen, it’s not worth it because you’ll be torn apart. Look at the Cosby women.” And this guy didn’t rape me, but he made a certain difficult decision to go on tour with him really hard. Because I knew if I did, I’d be getting more of the same weird treatment I’d been getting from him. And it was really fucked up, and this person was married. So it was not good, and so I hold a lot of resentment.
OK, so first of all, Kirkman did not say that it was Louis C.K. Everyone jumped to that conclusion based on the description (and based on other rumors re: Louis that Jezebel linked to). It makes sense based on the details (and although Louis C.K. is not married anymore, he was, and Jen Kirkman recently stated that this incident took place several years ago). It very well could be Louis.
But before we go on any further, let’s focus on what Jen Kirkman said about that blind item on this week’s Nerdist podcast, noting — again — that she did not say it was Louis C.K. She minimized the situation, and said that it was basically a guy who made a creepy pass at her, but nothing more. In fact she has since spoken to the guy, with whom she is still friendly:
On Kirkman and “this person” (allegedly Louis C.K.) hashing it out several months ago:
[He was like], ‘Yeah. I was kind of a creep.’ [And I responded], “Yeah, you are kind of a creep. That’s who you are. And God bless you. But that was something that was staying with me for a while, and I was having resentment about other things, so I talked about you on my podcast because I was in a resentful mood, and sometimes people are creepy …. so we talked, and that was it. I am fine because I was never violated. Never … I was just bummed, because it was one less person that I trust. And that person knows it. And I’d totally have coffee [with him], but I also still think [he’s a] creep, so I’d probably leave. And he was laughing and we were fine.
On what she meant by “ruining her career” if she admitted it was Louis C.K. (or someone else):
“If I have only so much space in a small press article and that’s all I talk about, people will hate me … it would ‘ruin my career’ in the sense that, if I were talking about dudes who were creepy once in a while, people are going to be like, ‘What a dick she is. I’ve never heard of her. She’s trying to take this guy down. With all this Bill Cosby drama going down? People just go, ‘Everyone’s Bill Cosby!’
Bill Cosby was a psychopath, this is [not that].”
On Jezebel picking it up and turning it into a blind item:
“Jezebel does all this sh*t, guessing who it is, and I never said who. I started getting hate mail … and then I took the podcast down because [Jezebel] was directing people to it. And then it was, like ‘Jen Kirkman Mysteriously Takes Down [Podcast]!’ And they were like, “He’s silencing her!” And then all of these people started emailing me, and I was like [to Jezebel]: ‘FUCK YOU!’ And they were like, ‘We can print this, you know?’ And I was like, ‘Print it you fucking c*nts.”
On why she started the rumors in the first place [jokingly]:
“If anyone is talking about it, it’s because we’re laughing, like ‘Check out this bozo who said this to me.’ We spread rumors about other comics because we’re dicks.”
On whether she has a “responsibility” to stop someone in case he goes “from saying creepy things to doing them”:
No, I don’t, actually. No, I do not. Because I don’t know if someone who says, ‘Hey let’s fuck’ is gonna rape someone someday. I don’t know where you get that. That it’s like a gateway thing. I don’t have a responsibility to anyone. My friend and I had a conversation. Sure, I made it public on my podcast, but I kept it a blind item because it was a larger story about ‘If you wanna know what it’s like to be a woman in comedy, it’s weird subtle shit that you have to think twice about.’ That was my WHOLE point, not to call someone out. If we get into name calling, my message is watered down.
To sum: 1) We won’t speak to the other rumors Louis C.K. because we just don’t know, and this not about them except so far as they relate to Kirkman; 2) If Jen Kirkman was talking about Louis C.K., he made a creepy pass at her, he didn’t violate her, according to her; and 3) the identity of the person doesn’t matter [to her], because that’s not what this is about [to her]. It’s about the “weird subtle shit” that female comedians have to deal with every day.
Also, Jen Kirkman rocks, and you should watch her Netflix stand-up special.