Just over a week ago, the disgraced comedian Louis CK won a Grammy. Well, maybe before the Grammys, one could describe him as “ashamed.”
In 2017, in the wake of allegations of sexual assault by five women, CK was quickly dropped by his agent, publicist and manager. Netflix, HBO and FX – where he had a lucrative overall deal and was executive producer of four shows – cut ties with the comedian. The women had accused CK of exposing themselves and masturbating in front of them, which CK admitted to having done and apologized.
“These stories are true,” CK said in his 2017 statement, which continued in part: “When you have power over another person, it’s not a question of asking them to look at your cock. It’s a pinch for them. “The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I exercised that power irresponsibly.”
After his mainstream career was derailed, CK quietly re-emerged with new standup material at comedy clubs in 2018. Although he was no longer hired by major Hollywood networks and studios, CK created his own work, and his fans followed. Last year, he embarked on a nationwide, sold-out comedy tour in 24 cities. In 2020, he published a special for $ 7.99 on his own website, “Sincerely, Louis CK,” where he made fun of and downplayed his own sexual misconduct. This special earned him a Grammy for Best Comedy Album last week, his third in the category and fourth nomination.
“There has been no change in the way comedy is run. There are no rules,” said Julia Wolov, one of the five women who accused CK five years ago and told in their 2017 exposure to New York Times that she fled in shock when CK suddenly masturbated in front of her at a comedy festival in 2002.
In a new interview with Variety, Wolov says, CK’s Grammy victory proves that the #MeToo movement has done little more than turn on headlines in Hollywood. Reflecting on the last few years, Wolov says powerful words have been spoken, but not much action has been taken, now exemplified by CK’s Grammy victory.
“Everyone does not care. That’s the message it sends,” Wolov says. “It really does. It’s the truth.”
Wolov – a comedy writer and performer who is part of the Chicago-shaped comedy duo, Dana and Julia, along with her longtime professional partner and friend of almost 30 years, Dana Min Goodman – rarely talks about the incident. In fact, she regrets standing up in 2017. At the time, she spoke out to help others, worried that CK might have harassed or assaulted more women.
“You kind of take it on, knowing that you might be able to help someone else. It’s something that makes you come forward, but it’s not fun. We took one for the team,” he said. tells Wolov Variety. “Even when I’m talking to you right now, I know this will not work to my advantage, but so many people ask, and it’s hard when he’s in the constant news cycle.”
Wolov can not prove that she has faced professional consequences as a direct reaction to talking publicly about CK, but she says it has not helped. She believes she has been branded a “troublemaker” in the world of comedy, even though people privately applaud her for speaking out. “Of course, his fans will say it’s because we’re not funny or we’re gold diggers – it’s my favorite, just like we got so rich from this,” Wolov says with sarcasm. “People will say we want attention. Believe me, this is not the attention I had ever hoped for.”
Wolov does not even really know why she is speaking again. But when CK won a Grammy, she knows with full certainty that nothing has changed. And she’s not sure who can start making that change at all.
“Every time he does something, I will wake up in the morning to messages and emails [from] journalists and it’s the same question: ‘Should he be able to perform?’ I do not know. Do not ask me. I do not make the rules, ”she says.
“I’ve been thinking about what to do and what’s the point of all this, but I have no answer, because I really do not know. The way the industry works can be so mysterious, ”she adds. “But whoever the decision makers are, is it so necessary that you have to work with this person who has shown his cock to everyone in town? Are you going to work so badly with him? There are so many funny people. Why him? Why not “Why not anyone but him?”
The Recording Academy has undergone radical changes in the past year to reflect its most diverse and inclusive vocal organ. With more than 12,000 eligible members today, CK was nominated and won.
“It’s kind of shit. What’s wrong with people?” Wolov cracks. “Wouldn’t it be nice if people would not be rewarded for bad behavior? But what should you do? These people voted for him. That’s probably what happens when comedy and music go hand in hand. “
The comedy and music companies are known to be plagued by violent harassment and poor regulation. While the problem is certainly an industry-wide problem across entertainment, in television and film, it is difficult to make a living without business support. But in comedy or music, an artist can publish their own material or go on stage – as long as they have fans to support them.
“These big brands can not have Louis CK in a movie. Disney can not have Louis CK But a small black box comedy club can do whatever they want, ”says Wolov, pointing out that even with the claims around him, it actually helps to have CK’s name for a standup show. “It’s all about the bottom line. If Louis can sell tickets to a small comedy club, they will.”
On the one hand, Wolov is ready to move on.
“Part of me doesn’t care. If people want to see them, it’s good for them,” she says. “Who is going to tell him he can not go on stage? I’m not. I really do not care what he does. It makes no difference to me. All I can do or say is live and be far away from me. “
But on the other hand, it’s just not right.
“I know he faced financial consequences of losing his TV deals, but that’s a big thing. For him, I feel like he thinks it’s his God-given right to have these things where most normal people would see it as a privilege to have that type of platform, “says Wolov.” I do not believe in cancellation culture, but of course Louis is not canceled. He works fine on me. He is on tour. wins the Grammys. “
Wolov admits that she still feels a little bit guilty about being part of the movement that spoke against CK a few years ago. “It’s ridiculous, but I do,” she says. “You do not want to ruin anyone’s life. All our lives were fucked by this, but he has at least millions of dollars to comfort himself. He will not be homeless.”
Going forward, Wolov is not quite sure what to do. When she sees people talking up on social media, she feels a sense of comfort, but she knows it doesn’t really move the needle. “They are sad, but they are just talking. You can talk about it, anything you want on social media, but there is nowhere to go. It’s not like you can go to HR in your public company and the person gets fired and you never have to work with them again, ”says Wolov.
Even when celebrities speak up, it obviously helps. But it is not their burden to take on, says the comedian. “Louis did all that shit, and now everyone else has to talk about it except him?” Wolov poses. “It’s just annoying and unfair.”
A lawyer listed as a representative of CK and who no longer has a PR representative or manager did not respond to Variety‘s query on this story. It is unclear who submitted CK to his Grammy nomination this year.
Variety has approached the Recording Academy, which has not responded to backlash around CK’s victory. When his nomination initially garnered negative attention, along with nods to Marilyn Manson and Dave Chappelle, the Recording Academy’s CEO, Harvey Mason Jr., addressed the controversy in an interview with The Wrap. “We do not want to limit the people who can submit their material for consideration,” he said. “We do not want to look back at people’s history, we do not want to look at their criminal record, we do not want to look at anything other than the legality of our rules, is this admission to this work justified based on date and other criteria? If it is , they may submit for consideration. ”
Mason Jr. also said: “What we want to control are our scenes, our shows, our events, our red carpet. We want to take a look at everyone who asks to be a part of it, asks to be present, and “We will make our decisions at that time. But we do not intend to restrict people from submitting their work for our voters to decide.”
CK was not present at the 2022 Grammys, held last weekend in Las Vegas, to receive his award.