Louis C.K. declines to discuss sexual misconduct 'rumors'

Louis C.K. refused to engage with "rumors" linking him to sexual misconduct towards female comedians during an interview at the Toronto film festival to promote his new film I Love You Daddy

In an interview with the New York Times published Monday, C.K. brushed aside questions concerning the long-running rumors that are back under scrutiny with the release of his new film and after comments by fellow comedian and one-time friend Tig Notaro last month. 

“I’m not going to answer to that stuff, because they’re rumors,” C.K. told the Times. “If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real,” he added. 

Pressed further on the topic, C.K. responded, “They’re rumors, that’s all that is.”

Notaro spoke about the rumors while promoting the second season of her Amazon series One Mississippi last month. “I think it’s important to take care of that, to handle that, because it’s serious to be assaulted. It’s serious to be harassed. It’s serious, it’s serious, it’s serious,” she said in an interview with The Daily Beast

In the second season of her Amazon traumedy, a character (played by Notaro's wife, Stephanie Allynne) is sexually assaulted when her boss masturbates in front of her during a pitch meeting. The scene echoes a similar allegation that has been leveled against C.K. by anonymous comedians that gained further traction after a Roseanne Barr interview in 2016.

Notaro told The Hollywood Reporter that she and C.K. haven't spoken in nearly two years, though he remains an executive producer on One Mississippi (the show is produced under C.K.'s FX Productions-based Pig Newton banner) and his name is still credited in each episode's opening credits. Notaro has since said C.K. has nothing to do with the show. 

When discussing why she explored the specific sexual act on a season that tackled different levels of sexual assault with both the female and male characters, she told THR: "When people haven’t lived through that or experienced it in any way, for some reason this particular act is really tossed aside as though it’s just this person exposing themselves and they’re 'just or a weirdo' and just 'leave the room.' It’s that kind of vibe. We wanted to show that you can be assaulted without even being touched. Nothing can be said and you are still horrifically violated and scared."

Notaro based most of her first season on her own traumatic experiences, which she explored in a legendary stand-up routine, "Hello, I Have Cancer." The Largo set made her an overnight sensation, thanks in part to support from C.K. The comedian tweeted about the set and later sold the recording on his website. But something happened between Notaro and C.K. along the way. "I have not spoken to Louis in probably going on two years now.," she told THR when asking if their dustup over his Saturday Night Live sketch resembling one of her past shorts spurred him to reach out to her. "I will never hear from Louis C.K. again," she said frankly. 

The creator and star of One Mississippi said that for the second season, however, the stories came from all the writers in the room. "Our entire writers room is all female and everybody had a story of assault or abuse or harassment on so many different levels and it just was one of the themes that we felt was really, really important to show," she explained, adding that the post-election season was only fueled by sexual harassment headlines. "People think all assault or abuse is one particular thing, where there are several shades of it."

Notaro said her hope is that the material will spur a conversation and serve as a warning to people who believe they are invincible. She also portrayed how victims are questioned, and often blamed, when speaking up.  

"I would love a conversation to happen from this," she said. "I would love for people, not to walk around paranoid, but to think twice about what might be going on or what someone might be up to. That it’s not always a cartoon character of an evil villain... It’s funny. People are like, 'Yeah, tell the truth, tell your story!' Sometimes if it’s not the right story, people don’t want to hear that truth. It’s really interesting and fascinating to me."

Read more: Louis C.K. Opens Up About His Controversial New Film, Woody Allen Influences

When pressed by the Times about why Notaro has made these comments, among others while promoting her show in the press, C.K. said, “I don’t know why she said the things she’s said, I really don’t."

He added: “I don’t think talking about that stuff in the press and having conversations over press lanes is a good idea.”

He similarly addressed the allegations in a 2016 interview with Vulture. A rep for C.K. did not respond to THR's initial request for comment.

Jackie Strause contributed to this story.

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