L.A. Comedy Theater iO West Fires Director for Sexual Harassment

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The iO West Theater
The iO West TheaterPhoto: Andreas Praefcke

Yesterday, James Grace, the artistic director of iO West, one of L.A.’s most respected comedy theaters and schools, was fired after multiple allegations of sexual harassment were raised against him.

Over the course of this month, three former interns and students with the theater have come forward with reports that Grace had harassed them in the past. Two of them also alleged that Grace retaliated when he was rejected by firing them or denying them positions. Grace denies all allegations. iO Theater’s founder, Charna Halpern, confirmed the firing to BuzzFeed and said that iO Theater would be instituting a new code of conduct and hiring a new female artistic director.

Comedy has never been an easy space for women, who historically have had to fight hard not to end up stereotyped or sidelined in the business. While there have been high-profile instances of sexual abuse (Bill Cosby springs to mind), harassment is also a persistent and often unaddressed problem in the community, as Katie Baker reported for BuzzFeed. While instituting a sexual harassment policy seems like a no-brainer to most, it’s a sign theaters are starting to acknowledge and protect the women in their spaces.