Jim Norton on Louis C.K.'s misconduct: 'We don't want to believe that we've been so wrong about a person'
"I love Louis. He's one of my favorite people. But the reality is, it's wrong," Norton says.
As news of Louis C.K.'s admission of sexual misconduct spreads, some fellow comedians, such as WTF podcast host (and C.K. frenemy) Marc Maron, have addressed the situation publicly. Now, Jim Norton, a past collaborator and friend of C.K.'s, has weighed in.
"I'm glad he apologized. He was right to apologize," Norton said Friday in a phone call with Philly.com, after C.K. released a statement confirming a New York Times report detailing his misconduct. "I love Louis. He's one of my favorite people. But the reality is, it's wrong."
According to the report, C.K. masturbated in front of two women, Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, against their will in 2002 and masturbated while on the phone with another woman, Abby Schachner, without her consent. Comedian Rebecca Corry told the Times she declined a similar request from C.K. in 2005. Another woman said C.K. repeatedly asked her if he could masturbate in front of her when the two worked on The Chris Rock Show in the late 1990s.
Such allegations had surfaced regularly over the years, most notably in a 2012 Gawker report, but last week's Times article finally drew mainstream attention to the subject. Seeming to sense the fallout coming, C.K. canceled an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and the Orchard film studio pulled his new film, I Love You, Daddy, from distribution.
"We don't want to believe that we've been so wrong about a person," Norton says of how long it took the allegations to gain traction. "We don't want to deny their work that we've enjoyed, and we don't want to go, 'Oh, my god, I have been so wrong about this person.' "
C.K. issued a statement admitting that the allegations in the Times story were true, saying, "There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for." Among the backlash, the comedian has lost his deal with the FX network, and Netflix and HBO have pulled his content from their streaming services.
"I don't like to see a friend going through it," said Norton, who will perform at the Fillmore Philadelphia on Nov. 30 as part of his "Kneeling Room Only" tour. "But I hope that this is all there is. I hope there are just a few instances where he acted completely stupidly and selfishly, and that there is nothing else. That's all you can hope for."
Norton, who worked with C.K. on HBO's Lucky Louie and FX's Louie, says he didn't talk about the allegations because they just were rumors up until last week. Without a name attached to the stories, he says, he didn't feel right discussing them in his capacity as a radio show host (The Jim and Sam Show on Sirius 206 and XM 103) and comedian. The Times report, however, changed that.
"These women sounded like they were telling the truth," Norton says. "I'd be a fool to not think there was something there. I'm glad he admitted it. There has to be some vindication for these women, too."
Norton says a future working with the embattled comedian isn't so certain, should C.K.'s career survive. For Norton, it comes down to whether other allegations surface, and, if they do, how C.K. handles them.
"I don't see that opportunity arising for a long time," he says. "It would have to be under the right circumstances."