Sara Pascoe has said that several comedians have tried “setting up a union” to stop “predators” in the industry.
The stand-up comic made the revelation in a new interview with The Independent, saying that these comedians hoped “a good enough union” might have prevented predatory behaviour.
Her remarks come as comedian and actor Russell Brand was accused of sexually assaulting four women in an investigation by The Times. Brand has denied the allegations and says all of his relationships have been consensual.
Speaking in the interview that was published on Saturday (16 September), Pascoe, who did not name any alleged predators, said: “We kept thinking that’s the problem – if we had a good enough union, there’d be a place where you could go and say ‘there’s this person getting women drunk at festivals and taking advantage of them.”
However, the comedian said that libel law has made this impossible, meaning it’s hard to accuse or name someone without clear proof. “You can’t just tweet about it,” Pascoe said.
She went on to allude to the existence of at least two alleged predators in the comedy industry, one of whom she said is “a man that’s assaulted men”.
Pascoe said that “fame really complicates” the situation when it comes to making an accusation. Referring to one of the comedians she previously alluded to, Pascoe said: “If you do the same job as someone, and they’re successful and you’re not – which is what’s happened with this particular predator – you have this horrible thing happen to you at the beginning of your career and you want to continue in that career.”
She continued: “Are you going to be believed? Are people going to take that person’s side? Are you going to be accused of trying to make yourself famous? Their literal choice is: am I known forever as the person that person assaulted? Do I want everyone in comedy to know this about me? All you can do is offer better support as an industry.”
In June 2022, Pascoe appeared on Prime Video series Backstage with Katherine Ryan, in which Ryan said to her: “I’ve done a show with someone who you and I believe is a predator.”
Ryan then said that Pascoe knew the alleged predator, stating: “I raised it. I called him a predator to his face and in front of everyone every day. What am I supposed to do? It’s such a messy thing because I don’t have proof. What, am I not supposed to feed my children because of someone else?”
During an interview with Louis Theroux on TV series Louis Theroux Interviews shortly after, Ryan called the accusations “an open secret” but said they are “a litigious minefield”. The comedian, who said “no one has perpetrated any sexual assaults against me”, called out the unnamed comedian’s “predatory” behaviour on set.
“This person, I believe very strongly – many people believe very strongly – is an open secret, is a perpetrator of sexual assault,” she said. “I, in front of loads of people, in the format of the show said to this person’s face that they are a predator.