On this week’s episode of her new Hulu show, I Love You, America, Sarah Silverman — a longtime friend of admitted sexual harasser Louis C.K. — shares a moment of sincere heartbreak, confusion, and anger in response to the news.
Ever since C.K.’s harassment was exposed by a New York Times article on Nov. 9, fans have been anticipating Silverman’s response. Never one to shy away from tough conversations, Silverman hadn’t previously directly addressed the news, which has been roiling through the comedy community for a week now.
But in her opening monologue, Silverman addresses “the elephant masturbating in the room.”
“One of my best friends for twenty years, Louis C.K., masturbated in front of women. He wielded his power with woman in fucked up ways,” Silverman says, taking a moment to collect herself. “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?”
“The only people that matter right now are the victims. And they are victims, and they’re victims because of something he did.”
Silverman insists that the recent calling out of sexual assault — which “has been a long time coming” — is ultimately good. But, she says, we’re all going to have to deal with “some of our heroes being taken down” and learning “bad things about people we like. And sometimes, even people we love.”
Unfortunately, the show’s taping took place prior to the allegations against Al Franken, the former Saturday Night Live comedian turned Democratic Minnesota Senator — another one of Silverman’s longtime friends.
In a previous episode of her show, Silverman featured an interview with Franken, who was a fellow cast member during her time on SNL in the early ’90s. But on Nov. 16, a Los Angeles news anchor from TalkRadio 790 KABC, Leeann Tweeden, posted an account of him groping and kissing her without consent in a 2006 USO Tour overseas.
Despite the fact that Silverman’s show tapes on Tuesdays, her monologue seems to predict that C.K. might not be the only friend involved in a scandal.
Relating this cultural turning point in sexual assault to the removal of a tumor, she concedes that, “It is going to hurt. But it’s necessary. And we’ll all be healthier for it… I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential. It is vital that people are held accountable for their actions, no matter who they are.”
In the immediate aftermath of the C.K. allegations, Silverman retweeted an article written by fellow female comedian Lizz Winstead, titled “Being a Female Comic in Louis C.K.’s World.” Presumably in response to those eager to blame female or “feminist” comics close to C.K., Silverman added that the article was, “Beautifully written and clear as a bell 4 anyone looking to understand or be mindful or be changed by some solid truths. Not everyone may be aware of these things, but now you can.”
Silverman’s sister, Laura Silverman, participated in a thread with one of the authors of the New York Times article, to talk about her own experiences with C.K. She emphasized that each masturbation incident, in her case, was consensual and that “I am NOT a victim.” But she felt the need to come forward with her stories because, “Right now — I want the victims to be believed. So.”
As Sarah Silverman concludes in her monologue: “We need to be better. I can’t wait to be fucking better.”
Read the full opening monologue above or watch the video above:
This recent calling out of sexual assault has been a long time coming. And it’s good. It’s like cutting out tumors: it’s messy, and it’s complicated and it is going to hurt. But it’s necessary. And we’ll all be healthier for it. And it sucks — and some of our heroes will be taken down, and we will discover bad things about people we like. And sometimes, even people we love. Let’s just say it: i’m talking about Louis. And I’ve been asked to comment and, in full honesty, I really really don’t want to. I’d rather sit this one out. And then I remembered something I said on this very show: If it’s mentionable, it’s manageable. So I’m going to address the elephant masturbating in the room. And full disclosure: I’m still processing all this shite. So here’s where I’m at with it in this moment, it could change tomorrow, and if it does, I will keep you posted.
One of my best friends for 20 years, Louis C.K., masturbated in front of women. He wielded his power with woman in fucked up ways — sometimes to the point where they left comedy entirely. 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. I love Louis. But Louis did these things. Both those statements are true. So I just keep asking myself, “Can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them?” Uh, I can mull that over later certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims. And they are victims, and they’re victims because of something he did. So I hope 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. But I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential. It is vital that people are held accountable for their actions, no matter who they are. We need to be better. I can’t wait to be fucking better.