Louis C.K., the notorious comedian, received a Grammy just over a week ago. Before the Grammys, he may have been described as “disgraced.”
C.K. was dropped by his agency, publicist, and manager in 2017 after five women accused him of sexual misconduct. Netflix, HBO, and FX — where he had a lucrative overall deal and was executive producer of four series – all dropped him. C.K. had been accused by the women of exposing himself and masturbating in front of them, which he admitted and apologized for.
“These stories are genuine,” C.K. stated in a 2017 statement, adding, “When you have power over another person, asking someone to stare at your dick isn’t a question.” It’s a difficult situation for them. The fact that these women admired me gave me power over them. And I used that power in an irresponsible manner.”
C.K. discreetly resurfaced in 2018 with new standup material at comedy clubs after his mainstream career was wrecked. C.K. continued to make his own work despite the fact that he was no longer being recruited by major Hollywood networks and studios.
Last year, he went on a nationwide comedy tour that sold out in 24 cities. In 2020, he produced a program called “Sincerely, Louis C.K.” on his own website for $7.99, in which he mocked and downplayed his own sexual misconduct. Last week, the spectacular earned him his third Grammy nomination and third win for best comedy album.
“Nothing has changed in the way humor is produced.” Julia Wolov, one of the five women who accused C.K. five years ago, told the New York Times in a 2017 exposé that she ran in horror after C.K. suddenly masturbated in front of her at a comedy festival in 2002.
C.K.’s Grammy win, according to Wolov in a new interview with Variety, indicates that the #MeToo movement hasn’t done much more than make headlines in Hollywood. Wolov believes that while loud words have been shouted in recent years, little action has been taken, as seen by C.K.’s Grammy triumph.
“No one notices. “This delivers that message,” Wolov says. “It truly does.” That is the case.”
Wolov, a comedy writer and performer who co-founded the Chicago comedy team Dana and Julia with Dana Min Goodman, her longstanding professional partner and friend of nearly 30 years, rarely speaks about the incident. In fact, she now regrets speaking up in 2017. She spoke out to help others at the time, fearful that C.K. had harassed or abused other women.
“You take it on because you think you might be able to help someone else.” That is part of what motivates you to speak up, but it is not enjoyable. Wolov tells Variety, “We took one for the team.” “I know talking to you right now would not help me, but so many people are asking, and it’s difficult when he’s in the news all the time.”
Wolov cannot show that speaking publicly about C.K. has resulted in professional ramifications, but she claims it hasn’t helped. Even though individuals privately thank her for speaking out, she believes she has been labeled a “troublemaker” in the comedy industry. “Of course, his admirers would say it’s because we’re not humorous or gold diggers – that’s my favorite, like, we made so much money off of this,” Wolov sarcastically remarks. “People will say we’re looking for attention.” This is not the kind of attention I was hoping for.”
Wolov has no idea why she is speaking out yet again. But now that C.K. has won a Grammy, she is adamant that nothing has changed. And she’s not sure who can even start the process.
“Every time he does something, I wake up to messages and emails [from] reporters asking the same question: ‘Should he be able to perform?'” I’m not sure. Don’t bother asking me. She claims, “I don’t make the rules.”
“I’ve considered what should be done and what all of this means, but I don’t have an answer because I truly don’t know.” She continues, “The way the industry works can be so strange.” “However, whoever makes the decisions, is it really necessary for you to work with this guy who has been flaunting his dick to everyone in town?” Do you really have to work with him? There are so many amusing individuals. Why him, specifically? Why shouldn’t they? “Why not him?” you might wonder.
In the last year, the Recording Academy has undergone significant modifications in order to reflect its most diverse and inclusive voting body. C.K. was nominated and won with over 12,000 voting members today.
“It’s complete nonsense.” “What is the matter with people?” Wolov shatters. “Wouldn’t it be great if individuals weren’t rewarded for their bad behavior?” What are you supposed to do, though? These individuals voted for him. That’s probably what occurs when comedy and music collide.”
The comedy and music industries are notorious for their high levels of harassment and lack of control. While the problem affects the whole entertainment industry, it’s difficult to make a livelihood in television and film without corporate sponsorship. In comedy or music, though, an artist can release their own work or perform on stage if they have enough admirers.
“These large brands can’t afford to have Louis C.K. in a movie.” Louis C.K. is unavailable to Disney. But a small black box comedy club can do whatever they want,” Wolov adds, noting that, despite the claims against him, having C.K.’s name on a billboard helps. “Everyone is concerned about the bottom line.” They’ll sell seats if Louis can sell tickets for a little comedy club.”
Wolov, on the one hand, is ready to move on.
“A part of me is unconcerned. “It’s fine if people want to view them,” she replies. “Who will tell him he can’t perform on stage?” No, I’m not. I don’t give a damn what he does. To me, it makes no difference. All I can do is live and stay as far away from you as possible.”
However, it is simply not acceptable.
“I understand that losing his TV contract cost him money, but that’s no big problem. “I feel like he believes it’s his god-given right to have these things,” Wolov says, “whereas most regular people would regard it as a pleasure to have that type of platform.” “I’m not a fan of cancel culture, but Louis isn’t one of them.” He appears to be in good health. He’s on tour. He’s giving up. He’s a Grammy winner.”
Wolov admits that she still has resentment toward C.K. for her role in the anti-C.K. movement a few years ago. “It’s absurd,” she admits, “but I do.” “You don’t want to put someone’s life at jeopardy.” Our lives have all been ruined as a result of this, but at least he has millions of dollars to console himself. He isn’t going to be a homeless person.”
Wolov is undecided about his future plans. She feels relieved when she sees people speaking up on social media, but she knows it’s not making a difference. “They’re in a bad mood, yet they’re just talking to each other.” You can speak about it on social media all you want, but there’s nowhere to go. “It’s not like you can go to HR at a public firm and have the individual fired and never have to work with them again,” Wolov explains.
It certainly helps when celebs speak up. However, the comic claims that it is not their responsibility to bear. “Louis did all this nonsense, and now everyone else but him has to talk about it?” Wolov is posing. “It’s really irritating and unjust.”
C.K.’s attorney, who no longer has a publicist or manager, did not answer to Variety’s request for comment on this story. It’s unknown who nominated Louis C.K. for a Grammy this year.
The Recording Academy has not reacted to Variety’s request for comment on the reaction following C.K.’s win. When his nomination, along with those for Marilyn Manson and Dave Chappelle, sparked controversy, the Recording Academy’s CEO, Harvey Mason Jr., addressed the issue in an interview with The Wrap.
“We’re not going to put any restrictions on who can submit stuff for consideration,” he stated. “We won’t look back at people’s pasts, we won’t look at their criminal records, we won’t look at anything but the legality of this recording for this work based on date and other criteria?” They can submit for consideration if it is.”
“What we will control is our stages, our shows, our events, and our red carpets,” Mason Jr. added. We’ll look at anyone who requests to be a part of it, who requests to be present, and we’ll make our selections then. However, we will not be in the business of preventing anyone from presenting their work for our voters to judge.”