It’s been a couple of weeks since the New York Times published an explosive article that detailed five accounts of sexual misconduct against renowned comedian Louis C.K. Despite the horrific tales, other male comedians such as Weekend Update anchor Colin Jost, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers have taken small jabs when it’s come to criticizing their fellow comedic friends.
When Colbert brought up Louis C.K. in his opening monologue, he did so with a delicate and rehearsed explanation—it was less of a criticism and he definitely danced around the subject at hand.
“For those of you tuning in to see my interview with Louis C.K. tonight,” began Colbert. “Louis canceled his appearance here tonight because The New York Times broke this story today: Five women are accusing [him] of sexual misconduct. When reached for comment, Jesus said, ‘La la la la la, I don’t want to hear about it, I was a big fan.’”
Just moments before, Colbert was aggressively attacking GOP senate candidate Roy Moore, who was recently accused for initiating sexual encounters towards underage women.
Similarly, Colin Jost spared SNL alum Senator Al Franken on Weekend Update with a couple of one-liner jokes that were less than harsh.
“Sure this [photo] was taken before Franken ran for office,” said Jost. “But it was also taken after he was a sophomore in high school.”
Though Jost did mention beforehand that the photograph of Franken groping Leeann Tweeden was bad, he didn’t comment on why it is inappropriate and the ramifications it causes in an industry where, for a long time, male comedians have been able to shrug this misconduct off by simply reverting to, “It was just a joke!”
What is even more upsetting is that the criticism toward Donald Trump and his infamous Access Hollywood interview tape was more abrasive than these soft attacks.
Though in the comedy world it seemed to be that Louis C.K. and Senator Al Franken were beloved, sexual misconduct is not a joke and cannot persist any longer.
In a post-Weinstein world, the floodgates of sexual assault allegations have opened up and though the reception toward women coming forward and sharing their stories is one of empathy and acknowledgement, it seems that those being accused, especially male comedians, aren’t being slated in the slightest.
There isn’t a threat male comedians face because they are high on the totem pole in terms of sustaining power dynamics. Male comedians don’t necessarily feel like they have to criticize Franken or C.K. because of their longstanding privilege that allows them to undermine women’s issues as “not a big deal.”
It is unfair for only women to speak up for sexual assault survivors because this allows men to get away with their supposedly innocuous and inane jokes about masturbation and rape.
Furthermore, if the point of late night comedy is to brilliantly roast celebrities, politicians, and others with sarcasm and wit, then why not go after those in the very industry that such terrible things are happening in.
It’s time for male comedians to exercise their privilege and criticize those among them who have done wrong because to say nothing is to perpetuate the culture of sexual harassment in comedy.