Sarah Silverman speaks on Louis C.K.: ‘Can you love someone who did bad things?’

Sarah Silverman became the latest prominent comedian to grapple publicly with a New York Times report in which several women described acts of sexual misconduct that Louis C.K. had engaged in. He subsequently admitted that their accounts were true.

In a new episode of her Hulu series, “I Love You, America,” to be released Thursday, Silverman delivered an emotional opening monologue in which she spoke about Louis C.K., who has been a longtime friend and colleague of hers, and she wondered aloud: “Can you love someone who did bad things?”

Silverman began the monologue by saying that the growing wave of “calling-out of sexual assault has been a long time coming.”

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“It’s good,” she said. “It’s like cutting out tumors: it’s messy and it’s complicated and it is going to hurt. But it’s necessary and we’ll all be healthier for it.” One inevitable consequence, she said, is that “some of our heroes will be taken down, and we will discover bad things about people we like, or in some cases, people we love.”

Silverman’s remarks followed public comments from other comedy peers of Louis C.K., including Marc Maron, who discussed him on his WTF podcast Monday, and Jon Stewart, who spoke about him in an interview Tuesday on the “Today” show. Both Maron and Stewart have said that they were aware of only one incident involving Louis C.K. and that when they asked him about it, they were initially told it did not happen.

Although Silverman said she has been asked to talk about Louis C.K. before (on Friday, when she appeared on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” the subject didn’t come up in her interview), she said in the monologue, “I really, really, really don’t want to. I wish I could sit this one out. But then I remembered something I said on this very show, that if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable, so I’m going to address the elephant masturbating in the room.”

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“One of my best friends of over 25 years, Louis C.K., masturbated in front of women,” she said, adding that he “wielded his power with women” in ways that were troubling and sometimes made these women feel they had to leave the field of comedy entirely.

Silverman asked rhetorically: “I could couch this with heartwarming stories of our friendship and what a great dad he is, but that’s totally irrelevant, isn’t it? Yes, it is.”

“I love Louie,” she said, “but Louie did these things. Both of those statements are true. So, I just keep asking myself, can you love someone who did bad things? Can you still love them? I can mull that over later, certainly, because the only people that matter right now are the victims. They are victims, and they’re victims because of something he did.”

Silverman did not address recent Twitter posts by her sister Laura Silverman, who said that Louis C.K. masturbated in front of her “about 20 times” while they were “on a cross-country trip before he was famous.” Laura Silverman wrote that these incidents had occurred after she and Louis C.K. had dated and broken up, and that she regarded them as “not criminal. But compulsive, rude & gross.”

Sarah Silverman concluded her monologue by saying, “I hope it’s OK if I am at once very angry for the women he wronged and the culture that enabled it. And also sad, because he’s my friend. But I believe with all my heart that this moment in time is essential. It’s vital that people are held accountable for their actions, no matter who they are. We need to be better. We will be better.”

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Using an expletive, she said she could not wait “to be better.”