Actress Janeane Garofalo participated in the most recent episode of Bust’s Poptarts podcast, during which she engaged in a heated discussion about the #MeToo movement and how it pertains to her longtime friend Louis C.K., who was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women.
Asked by hosts Emily Rems and Callie Watts how the movement has impacted the comedy world, Garofalo said that she believes people should be “OK to question the source.”
“It should transcend gender. It’s human rights. ‘Cause if you don’t, anyone can be accused of anything at any time,” she said. “And if you’re not allowed to question that — I can say right now, ‘I’ve got pictures of you molesting a child. Don’t question me!’ You know what I mean? ‘Don’t question the questioner!’ Then it’s a Twilight Zone episode. And I think in any movement, for human rights, you’ve got to transcend gender, and you’ve got to consider who’s making the accusation and why and when, because it matters.”
Naturally, C.K. came up, as he was accused by five women of masturbating in front of them in a New York Times story published in the fall of 2017, written by one of the journalists who penned the first exposé on sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. C.K. later admitted to the allegations and apologized. Since then, he has attempted a comeback, which has been widely criticized as he was reluctant to discuss his scandal in his frequent stand-up performances in New York that took place during the second half of 2018.
C.K. ignited more controversy in December when, in leaked audio from a stand-up set reportedly performed at Long Island’s Governor’s Comedy Club, he mocked survivors of the Parkland High School shooting and those who identify as gender nonbinary.
Despite his behavior, Garofalo wants the world to “leave Louis C.K. alone.” She elaborated to Rems and Watts, “And again, there are so many issues we gotta be motivated on. He’s been my friend — and I stand by that — he’s been my friend since 1985, and I think he has suffered,” Garofalo said. “And when he performs at the Comedy Cellar and people get all irate, if nothing else, care about his daughters.”
She added, “If nothing else — if you can find no compassion for him, which I think you should — think about how his daughters, who hear all of this stuff, feel. Why don’t you leave him alone for them if you’re so women-empowering?”
But Rems and Watts took issue with Garofalo’s point about C.K.’s daughters. The three women attempted to understand each other in a heated exchange. When Garofalo defended C.K. by telling the hosts that they “don’t understand what it is like to be a public pariah” and to “have people in the street yell things,” Rems and Watts reminded Garofalo that C.K. “chose to be a public person” and then “chose to take advantage of that.”
But Garofalo continued to disagree. “I don’t think you know the full story … and nobody talks onstage in their stand-up more than him [about] everything he’s ever done throughout that whole time,” she continued. “I don’t want to get caught up in this, because clearly you take a strong position on this, and it doesn’t win me any friends. This is like talking about Israel. But I do believe when you’re a friend with someone, and if you think that they have suffered — I don’t believe in kicking a person when they’re down.”
When Garofalo asked the women what their “stake” is in bringing up details from C.K.’s scandal, Rems and Watts bluntly told her that they want to “let people know they can’t just rip their dick out in front of people because they can!” They added, “That is the stake. When I [am] in a room and you have a bigger position than me, you don’t just get to wag your dick at me because you can.”
Garofalo then said, “OK, first of all, that’s not what he did,” before telling the women that she believes C.K. has been “bullied” relentlessly despite her assertion that he has “paid heavily, heavily, and his family has paid heavily” for the allegations that were made public.
“Oh, my God. Do you know how much offensive material goes on at the Comedy Cellar?” Garofalo said, referring to the famed comedy club that has hosted several of C.K.’s comeback shows. “You know what? If you don’t want to listen to him, get up and leave the room. You are acting like Mussolini has walked into the room, and it is not. This is a human being.”
Listen to Garofalo’s entire Poptarts interview here.