Two former Chicago-based comediennes are among five women alleging sexual misconduct by comedian Louis C.K., the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The Chicago comedy duo Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov recounted a 2012 incident in Louis C.K.’s Aspen, Colorado, hotel room, during which they say C.K. asked if he could take out his penis. They thought it was a joke and laughed it off.
“And then he really did it,” Goodman told the Times. “He proceeded to take all of his clothes off, and get completely naked, and started masturbating.”
A third comedienne, Abby Schachner, who studied at Second City and Chicago’s ImprovOlympic, told the paper about a similar incident involving Louis C.K. She said that when she called C.K. to invite him to one of her shows, she could hear him masturbating as they spoke.
Schachner said C.K. sent her an apology through a Facebook message six years later and that she forgave him, though the incident left her so discouraged she lost interest in pursuing comedy.
Rumors about the content of the New York Times story had been swirling for weeks, and fallout for the superstar comic was swift. Thursday’s New York premiere of “I Love You, Daddy,” a dark comedy written, directed and starring C.K., was canceled.
His appearance on Thursday’s “Late Show with Stephen Colbert” was canceled, and HBO announced it was cutting its ties, dropping C.K. from the lineup of an upcoming benefit show, and removing his specials from their streaming services, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
FX Networks, which has produced five shows with C.K. over the last eight years, said they had not received complaints about the comic, and that they were “troubled” by the allegations. “That said, the matter is currently under review,” a statement read.
Chicago ImprovOlympic co-founder Charna Halpern, cited in the Times expose, told the Sun-Times via email Thursday: “I’m a very nothing part of the story. [I] wasn’t even there; just corroborated that [Dana and Julia] told me. Dana and Julia are the story and they feel they did their part and are done.”
The comedian, whose stand-up routine frequently includes bits about masturbation, most recently played Chicago in 2016, performing four nights at the Chicago Theatre. A Sun-Times review of the opening night performance stated: “In the comedy world of the moment, Louis C.K. is basically the Beyonce, the iconoclast who mastered the mainstream and now gets to create and distribute his art on his own terms.”
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The comedian’s publicist declined comment in response to questions from the Times. “Louis is not going to answer any questions,” Mr. Kay wrote in an email Tuesday night to the newspaper.
A fourth comedian, Rebecca Corry, told the Times that C.K. asked her to watch him masturbate in her dressing room when they were filming a TV pilot in 2005. Corry refused.
The fifth woman, who talked to the Times on condition of anonymity, recalled an incident in the 1990s when she and C.K. were working on “The Chris Rock Show.” The woman, who was in her early 20s at the time, said he repeatedly asked her to watch him masturbate.
Chicago is a comedy mecca, and the comedy industry is male-dominated and rife with instances of sexual harassment, said veteran Chicago stand-up Reena Calm, who said she knows Corry and had been aware of rumors about C.K. for years.
Last year, local comics were abuzz about a series of apparent druggings of comics — male and female — at open-mic shows in the city, stories that got wider attention after the Chicago Reader published a story about them, Calm recalled.
“It’s happening all the time in Chicago,” she said. “If you’re on the main stage at Second City, you have power, you think you can get anyone you want in that [local comedy scene] bubble. And that’s such a minuscule amount of power compared to Louis C.K.”
Contributing: Andy Grimm