Sarah Silverman revealed today that she has consensually allowed Louis C.K. to masturbate in front of her in the past. “When we were kids, and he asked if he could masturbate in front of me, sometimes I’d go, ‘Fuck yeah I want to see that!,'” she told Howard Stern Monday, according to Variety. “It’s not analogous to the other women that are talking about what he did to them. He could offer me nothing. We were only just friends. So sometimes, yeah, I wanted to see it, it was amazing. Sometimes I would say, ‘Fucking no, gross,’ and we got pizza.”
One of the reasons five women came forward to The New York Times last year to report on the comedian’s predilection for asking women to view him masturbating was because they worked for or with him. It was a power move to them, and they felt helpless. Silverman said she believed he was unaware of the implications of that dynamic as he got more famous. Some women said they’d stopped pursing comedy because of the experience. “I’m not saying what he did was okay,” she said. “I’m just saying at a certain point, when he became influential, not even famous, but influential in the world of comedy, it changes. He felt like he was the same person, but the dynamic was different and it was not OK.”
In recent months, Louis C.K. has started making surprise appearances at comedy clubs in New York City. Several audience members have voiced their discontent with the drop-ins to the point that the Comedy Cellar has posted a sign that said that if people are uncomfortable with a comic dropping by they could leave early and get their money back.
In an interview with Rolling Stone, the Comedy Cellar’s Noam Dworman said he had done a lot of soul-searching about Louis C.K.’s drop-ins and decided against banning him. “I’ve spoken to many, many, many female comics, many of whom take this issue very seriously,” he said. “I don’t remember anybody feeling that he shouldn’t be able to perform anymore. … Having said that, that doesn’t extend to the female comics that were involved in these things with him, and I know that they feel quite differently.”
Silverman said she’d like to see C.K. back onstage. “I’m not saying everyone should embrace Louis again,” she said. “I believe he has remorse. I just want him to talk about it onstage. He’s going to have to find his way or not find his way.” (C.K.’s drop-ins so far have been straight comedy with no reference to what he was accused of.)
Variety reports that Silverman’s sister, Laura Silverman, said that the comic had masturbated in front of her some 20 times before he was famous. The way she put it, the act was “not criminal but compulsive, rude and gross.”
Late last year, Sarah Silverman addressed her friend’s misconduct on her Hulu show, I Love You, America. “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 said. “But 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. I can’t fucking wait to be better.”