Back in 2015, comedian Jen Kirkman implied that a male comedian who matched Louis C.K.'s description was a "known perv," noting that her career would be over if she ever directly named him. That podcast kicked off an ongoing conversation about various rumors and anonymous accounts of C.K.'s alleged behavior with women comics and writers. While no one has publicly and directly accused C.K. of sexual assault, prominent comedians including Tig Notaro and Roseanne Barr have called him out for not addressing the rumors. Now, Kirkman has come to C.K.'s defense, explaining that she was never harassed by C.K. and has never heard a first person account of any wrongdoing.
"Sometimes there's nothing there. I think this might be a case of there's nothing there," Kirkman said to the Village Voice. "If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, and if any women want to come forward and say what he's done, I'll totally back them, because I believe women. But I just don't know any."
"I don't know why Tig is talking about this stuff," Kirkman added, referring to comedian Tig Notaro's recent comments that C.K. needed "to handle" the rumors. Notaro also wrote a storyline into the second season of One Mississippi in which a character is "forced to sit and watch as a man in power surreptitiously masturbates in front of her in the workplace" that is believed to reference C.K.
Kirkman explained why she deleted the podcast from her site: "There are rumors out there that Louis takes his dick out at women. He has never done that to me," Kirkman told the Voice. "I never said he did, I never implied that he did. What I said was, when you hear rumors about someone, and they ask you to go on the road with them, this is what being a woman in comedy is like — imagine if there';s always a chance of rain over your head but [with] men, there isn't. So you go, 'Should I leave the house with an umbrella, or not?'"
Since then, fellow comedian Doug Stanhope seemingly claimed to be the culprit in a Facebook post (although he may have been joking). Things become a little more complex when you read the transcript of the podcast in question. Via Death & Taxes, here's exactly what Kirkman said on the April 20th, 2015 episode of her weekly podcast I Seem Fun:
And then I had another guy who is a very famous comic. He is probably at Cosby level at this point. He is lauded as a genius. He is basically a French filmmaker at this point. You know, new material every year. He’s a known perv. And there’s a lockdown on talking about him. His guy friends are standing by him, and you cannot say a bad thing about him. And I’ve been told by people “Well then say it then. Say it if it’s true.” If I say it, my career is over. My manager and my agent have told me that. They didn’t threaten it. They just said to me “You know what Jen, it’s not worth it because you’ll be torn apart. Look at the Cosby women.” And this guy didn’t rape me, but he made a certain difficult decision to go on tour with him really hard. Because I knew if I did, I would get more of the same weird treatment I’d been getting from him. And it was really fucked up, and this person was married. So it was not good, and so I hold a lot of resentment.
Last year, when asked about the rumors Gawker had published, C.K. told Vulture, "You can't touch stuff like that," adding, "If you need your public profile to be all positive, you're sick in the head. I do the work I do, and what happens next I can't look after. So my thing is that I try to speak to the work whenever I can. Just to the work and not to my life."
This month, while promoting his new film I Love You, Daddy, he was asked again about the rumors by the NY Times: "I'm not going to answer to that stuff, because they're rumors," he said. He added, "If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real," and eventually responded that "no" the rumors weren't real: "They're rumors, that's all that is."
In that same interview, he had this to say about his new film, which revolves around the lead character's 17-year-old daughter being seduced by a respected filmmaker and rumored pedophile: "There are these people in the world that we all talk about, and we want to know that they're all good or they're all bad," C.K. said. "The uncomfortable truth is, you never really know. You don't know anybody. To me, if there was one thing this movie is about, it's that you don't know anybody."