Janeane Garofalo on Louis C.K.: ‘I Don’t Believe in Kicking a Person When They’re Down’

Janeane Garofalo. Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

As the debate continues around whether or not Louis C.K. should be able to return to stand-up in the wake of the New York Times reporting on his sexual misconduct, one of the comedian’s longtime friends has come to his defense. During the most recent episode of Bust’s podcast Poptarts, Garofalo was asked by hosts Emily Rems and Callie Watts about how the #MeToo movement has affected the comedy world, which led to a very tense discussion about C.K.’s recent return to performing stand-up at New York City venues like the Comedy Cellar.

“When it comes to the #MeToo movement, I think it’s okay to question the source. It should transcend gender. It’s human rights. Cause if you don’t, anyone can be accused of anything at any time,” Garofalo said. “And if you’re not allowed to question that — I can say right now ‘I’ve got pictures of you molesting a child. Don’t question me!’ You know what I mean? Don’t question the questioner! Then it’s a Twilight Zone episode. And I think in any movement, for human rights, you’ve got to transcend gender, and you’ve got to consider who’s making the accusation and why and when, because it matters.”

Then the subject of C.K. entered the discussion. “Leave Louis C.K. alone. Enough with that. And again, there are so many issues we gotta be motivated on. He’s been my friend — and I stand by that — he’s been my friend since 1985, and I think he has suffered,” she said. “And when he performs at the Comedy Cellar and people get all irate, if nothing else, care about his daughters. If nothing else — if you can find no compassion for him, which I think you should — think about how his daughters, who hear all of this stuff, feel. Why don’t you leave him alone for them if you’re so women-empowering?”

The hosts then took issue with Garofalo’s point about C.K.’s daughters, and a tense exchange followed:

Cause you don’t understand what it is like to be a public pariah, cause it’s not happened to you. You don’t understand what it’s like to have people in the street yell things …

But he chose to be a public person, and then he chose to take advantage of that.

Also, I don’t think you know the full story … and nobody talks onstage in their stand-up more than him [about] everything he’s ever done throughout that whole time. I don’t want to get caught up in this, because clearly you take a strong position on this, and it doesn’t win me any friends. This is like talking about Israel. But I do believe when you’re a friend with someone, and if you think that they have suffered — I don’t believe in kicking a person when they’re down.

I mean, you can still be friends with someone but you can also still acknowledge what they did.

It’s not mutually exclusive. Did I say I didn’t acknowledge what they did? I’m just saying — and also, are there no other issues?

We can multitask…

But the thing is, why? Why? What is your stake in it that people wanna keep going back?

To let people know they can’t just rip their dick out in front of people because they can! That is the stake. When I …[crosstalk] …in a room and you have a bigger position than me, you don’t just get to wag your dick at me because you can.

Okay, first of all, that’s not what he did. And also, you weren’t there … This is so unfair, because it’s another thing where people get bullied. I feel progress is thwarted when anyone says what I — because believe me, the pushback I get when I’ve discussed this before, when people ask me about it, feels so unjust to me, when there are so many issues we could be talking about. And I do think there is a point where somebody stops kicking people when they’re down. It doesn’t matter what the gender is. It doesn’t. This isn’t about male or female.

Garofalo goes on to note that “there’ll be nothing but vitriol coming at me about this, and it’s so easy to get mad at these things and then lose sight of other things that impact our lives.” When the hosts again note that they can juggle multiple issues at once, Garofalo tells them that C.K. has “paid heavily, heavily, and his family has paid heavily.” When the hosts take issue with C.K. performing at comedy clubs like the Cellar, Garofalo says, “Oh my God. Do you know how much offensive material goes on at the Comedy Cellar? You know what? If you don’t want to listen to him, get up and leave the room. You are acting like Mussolini has walked into the room, and it is not. This is a human being.”

Listen to the full episode here.

Janeane Garofalo on Louis C.K.: ‘I Think He Has Suffered’