Arts & Entertainment | January 26, 2021 12:49 pm

Jeff Ross Is the Latest Accused Creep to Get a Free Pass From the Comedy World

Why does the standup circuit seem so averse to punishing its own?

comedian jeff ross
Jeff Ross speaks onstage at the Comedy Central Roast of Alec Baldwin in September 2019.
Getty Images for Comedy Central

On Tuesday, livestream and on-demand platform LiveXLive announced the inaugural “Snubbys,” a comic award show devoted to honoring “those who are deserving but not receiving” — including artists like The Weeknd who was famously snubbed by the Grammys this year — to take place on Jan. 31. That’s all well and good, but the host for the proceedings may spark a little controversy: it’s none other than comedian Jeff Ross, who was accused last summer of having a sexual relationship with an underage girl in the ’90s when he was 33.

It begs the question: why is this man, an accused pedophile, still getting gigs? Ross has denied the allegations from Jessica Radtke, who claims she began a sexual relationship with the comedian when she was just 15 years old, and he is currently suing her for defamation. But why not wait and see how that case plays out before booking him to host your awards show? Ross is just the latest example of a disturbing trend in the comedy world in which accused sex creeps are welcomed back with open arms.

This summer, Louis C.K. appeared as a “surprise guest” at several of Dave Chappelle’s standup shows, and the disgraced comedian — who, as you probably remember, admitted to masturbating in front of multiple female comics against their will — appeared in several photos with Chappelle, Sarah Silverman, Michelle Wolf and Tiffany Haddish, all presumably smart people who should know better than to associate with someone who couldn’t stop whipping his dick out at inappropriate moments and then sending his manager to threaten the careers of the women he exposed himself to in order to keep them quiet.

Why are comedians so hesitant to distance themselves from the creeps and abusers within their industry? Louis C.K.’s former manager Dave Becky still represents a slew of high-profile comics, including some who purport to be feminists, like Amy Poehler. (To be fair, Becky was fired by John Mulaney and Pamela Adlon when his role in the Louis C.K. cover-up came to light.) And even in the very article detailing the allegations against Ross, some of his peers admitted they knew he preferred to date inappropriately young women but … thought it was fine?

“Jeff is someone I consider a good friend, and I love him, but to be honest, he always has alarmingly young-looking girlfriends,” Amy Schumer told Vulture. “Never one I have known to be underage, but alarmingly young-looking just the same.” Another comedian, who asked to remain anonymous, was quoted as saying, “Jeff Ross was always with a young girl — that was his girlfriend ‘type.’ Were his girlfriends 18 and over that I saw him with? Probably. But he was still considerably older. He has that reputation.”

Why, then, wouldn’t you speak up? Or worse — why would you still consider someone you’ve always known to have “alarmingly young” girlfriends to be your “good friend” whom you “love”? For too long, fellow comedians have turned a blind eye to guys like Ross and Louis C.K., allowing their crimes — yes, these are sex crimes we’re talking about here, not just a tasteless joke — to become open secrets and welcoming them back with open arms after they’ve been outed as predators.

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