Louis C.K. Allegations’ Impact on Comedy


Guest Writer

While comedian Louis C.K. is not the only male in the entertainment business that has been ousted for his behavior towards women, he does occupy a space that is somewhat removed from the other alleged sexual o enders.

The crimes he has been accused of, and has admitted to, have irreversibly affected the lives of the victims and to a lesser extent marred whatever legacy he hoped to keep intact, but that’s where a bulk of the similarities between C.K. and other alleged abusers like actor Kevin Spacey end.

Both entertainers knew that they were abusing whatever power they thought they had, but where Spacey’s actions seem rooted in violence and control, C.K.’s verged on exhibitionism.

C.K. spent nearly all of his three decades in comedy advertising his faults, perversions and unusual habits, whether it was through his stand up or various sitcoms throughout his career. C.K. was not one to shy away from saying just how awful a person he could be, and incorporated this into stand up bits or storylines for characters in “Louie” and his lm I Love You, Daddy,” which in light of recent events has been shelved indefinitely.

While his audience may have believed that these were merely caricatures of the real Louis C.K, or that the comedian was simply exaggerating his awful tendencies, rumors of his behavior had been circulating since 2012.

It took five years for the allegations to catch up to him, all while the comedian was pro ting o of this behavior. The issue was not that there wasn’t enough people, some of whom knew the comedian for years, who were concerned with C.K.’s actions. Additionally, it was not the fault of the victims, some of whom did not wish to address a clearly traumatic experience they had with the comedian, that it took until 2017 for him to face the consequences of his actions.

The issue, however, is the same one that has been problematic in every other area of the entertainment industry. Comedy is a male-dominated business, complete with male entertainers and promoters who either avoid the issue of abuse in the industry or are the main reason for it.


In her New York Times article, “Being a Female Comic in Louis C.K.’s World,” standup comedian Laurie Killmartin wrote of the sense of entitlement and overall indifference men have towards women in comedy. In it, she noted that, as a comedian, she has the power to verbally confront any hecklers or detractors, but the moment she or any other female comedian leaves the stage, that power is no longer there.

Killmartin wrote of how female comedians often have to deal with pressure brought on by male encounters as well as men behaving inappropriately, forcing women to avoid certain interactions and miss out on career opportunities.

“I’d say almost every female comic could name a comedy club she can’t walk into, a booker she can’t email or an agent she can’t pursue because of the presence of a problematic guy,” Killmartin said. “We are all avoiding someone who could help us make money.”

Killmartin makes a point of noting how female entertainers have to make “alternate routes” while

pursuing a career in comedy, often skipping out on lucrative deals and promising career moves to avoid harassment from males.

Comedian Marc Maron also spoke of the issues in the comedy business on his webshow, “WTF Podcast.”

Maron had been friends with C.K. for decades and had even asked him years ago about the allegations, which he denied at the time. Much like Killmartin, Maron spoke of how comedy can be taxing for women due to the “toxic male presence.”

“The real problem is that female comics have been hearing about this stuff for a while, and there was no place where they could go with that information,” Maron 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.”

Maron also considered himself part of the problem, noting how he initially did not even hire any female writers for his TV show “Maron.” The comedian said that, often, males don’t realize “all of the male bullsh*t that every woman has to deal with in every work environment,” and while he did not commit the crimes that C.K. had, he feels he is partially responsible for how women are viewed in his eld of work.


Killmartin, naturally, is aware of this issue of well, and also questioned the amount of women working on high profile projects in comedy.

Like any business, employing more women would not immediately fix the problem, but would be a logical step in working towards a real solution. Advertising the talents of female comedians not only gives them the opportunities they sometimes miss due to harassment from males, but has the potential to encourage more women to speak out against such treatment.

Of course, this would not stop people such as C.K. from committing assault, but it would have the potential to keep people from normalizing such behavior. It will also let people in high profile positions know that this behavior will not be tolerated.

“I don’t know how men are going to change themselves,” Killmartin said. “I do know that putting more women onstage, on writing staffs and on camera is a great way to change comedy.”