Marc Maron has spoken out about his longtime friend Louis C.K. after the comedian admitted on Friday that he had sexually harassed multiple women.
On Monday’s installment of his WTF podcast, Maron — who is close with C.K. and has appeared on his FX show, Louie — addressed the bombshell New York Times report published Thursday, in which five women came forward about past experiences with C.K., 50, when the comedian masturbated in front of them, asked if he could masturbate in front of them or was heard masturbating while speaking on the phone. In a statement on Friday, C.K. confirmed the allegations “are true.”
Maron, 54, called C.K.’s sexual misconduct “some vile, inappropriate, hurtful, damaging, selfish s— … some awful behavior.”
“He’s my friend and it’s a difficult position to be in, because I certainly can’t condone anything he did,” he said. “There’s no way to justify it, there’s no way to defend it, there’s no way to apologize for him about it. There’s no way to let him off the hook, but there’s a lot of concern about who knew what when — [people are saying,] ‘How’d you guys let this happen? Everybody knew this, everybody knew that, everybody was in on it.’ “
“That’s not true,” he continued. “Sadly, I knew what most people knew — there was a story [about C.K.] out there, going back several years, and there were unnamed people in the story. It took place in a hotel room in Aspen. It was always out there, but then it would pick up momentum at different times, and I would ask him about it.”
Maron said he asked C.K. about the blind item at the time, but that C.K. denied it had ever happened. (In the Times‘ report, comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov said that while with C.K. in his hotel room after their show at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen in 2002, he “proceeded to take all of his clothes off, and get completely naked, and started masturbating.”)
“I would say, ‘This story about you forcing these women to watch you jerk off, what is that, is that true?’ ” said Maron. “He goes, ‘No, it’s not true. It’s not real. It’s a rumor.’ And I would say, ‘Well, are you going to address it somehow? Handle it?’ He goes, ‘No, I can’t do that. It’ll give it life, it’ll give it air.’ And that was the conversation.”
Maron said he wasn’t aware of any other incidents of sexual misconduct involving his friend, but he admitted that larger institutional problems in the world of comedy made it difficult for women to come forward.
“Female comics have been hearing about this stuff for a while, and there was no place where they could go with that information,” he said. “I know some of them.”
Maron said he knows Rebecca Corry, who told the Times that C.K. asked if he could masturbate in front of her while filming a TV pilot in 2005.
“I know Rebecca Corry, and she couldn’t tell me about this,” he said. “There was no place for them to go with these stories where they felt safe to tell them, and it’s f—ing sad.”
“I want to believe women, but in this particular instance, there was no one named in that [blind] story,” he continued. “There was no place for women to go tell this story. There was no women attached to it. I didn’t know their names until Friday. So I believed my friend.”
Maron said society’s “implicit and malignant age-old power dynamic” enabled the “dismissiveness” of C.K.’s misconduct.
“The work environment, the social environment makes it difficult for people to come forward and be heard, to be listened to, to be believed and for action to be taken around that,” he said. “It is pushed aside, it is dismissed, it is framed as an annoyance or an embarrassment, it is used against people, it is used as a threat — that is the structure that exists in life.”
“When you talk about comedy, that world is a goddamn free-for-all,” he continued. “It’s a Wild West show. Is it a boys club? Yeah, I guess it is.”
“When you start to drift, as a man, into that zone of, ‘I don’t see what the big deal is. I just jerked off in front of them, or jerked off on a phone. They could have left, they could have done this, they could have done that. He asked. It’s not illegal,’ — yeah, but it’s gross,” said Maron. “It’s creepy. It’s massively inappropriate. It’s potentially traumatizing.”
Maron went on to conclude that despite C.K.’s actions, he wants to believe that people can change for the better.
“Look, everybody has made mistakes,” he said. “Everybody has minor or major transgressions in their life, and I believe that everybody is capable of change — I have to believe that. If you don’t feel like you’re changing quick enough, you can behave. You can know enough to behave, and then maybe you’ll change. Most people who have a heart and a mind know when they’re doing shameful s—. Get help, because the most secrets you keep, the more malignant it becomes.”
“I’m disappointed in my friend,” he said. “He did some gross s—, some damaging s—. He f—ed up, and he’s in big f—ing trouble. I’m going to be his friend, what do you want me to do? I mean, it’s probably the best time to be his friend, when he needs to make changes in his life. I can learn from it, he can learn from it, I hope.”
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A day after the Times report was published, C.K. confirmed the validity of the stories. (Read his full statement here.)
“At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my d— without asking first, which is also true,” he said. “But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d— isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.”
“The power I had over these women is that they admired me,” he added. “And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”
The blowback has been swift: Film distributor The Orchard has announced it will not release the comedian’s new movie, I Love You, Daddy, as planned on Friday. (The dark comedy, which the comedian wrote and directed, is full of controversial dialogue and jokes about child rape and sexual harassment.)
Actress Chloë Grace Moretz, who plays C.K.’s daughter in the film, released a statement saying she decided two weeks ago to pull out of promoting the project “after becoming aware of potential allegations against Louis C.K.”
Several media companies have also cut ties with the comedian: On Friday, his longtime network partner FX announced it has ended its association with him effective immediately.
His overall production deal with FX was canceled, and he lost his role as executive producer — as well as the compensation that came with that title — on the FX comedy shows Better Things and Baskets, the Amazon series One Mississippi, and a TBS animated series, The Cops.
Netflix, which struck a deal with C.K. to create two new stand-up specials for the streaming service, announced on Friday that it will not produce the planned second special. (The first was released in April.)
HBO also dropped C.K. from the lineup of Night of Too Many Stars, a comedy benefit set to air Saturday.