Sarah Silverman

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Sarah Silverman
Sarah Silverman by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Silverman at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con International
Birth name Sarah Kate Silverman[citation needed]
Born (1970-12-01) December 1, 1970 (age 43)
Bedford, New Hampshire, U.S.[1][2][3]
Medium Stand up, television, film, radio
Nationality American
Years active 1992–present
Genres Blue comedy, Black comedy, Political satire
Influences Steve Martin, Larry David
Relative(s) Laura Silverman
Notable works and roles School of Rock, The Sarah Silverman Program, Wreck-It Ralph
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics
2008 Jimmy Kimmel Live!

Sarah Kate Silverman (born December 1, 1970)[4] is an American stand-up comedian, writer, and actress. Her satirical comedy addresses social taboos and controversial topics such as racism, sexism, and religion by having her comic character endorse them in an ironic fashion.[5][6]

Silverman was a writer and occasional performer for 18 weeks on Saturday Night Live and starred in and produced The Sarah Silverman Program, which ran from 2007 to 2010 on Comedy Central.[7] She released an autobiography The Bedwetter in 2010. She has also had parts in movies including Who's the Caboose? (1997), School of Rock (2003), Wreck-It Ralph (2012), and A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014).

Early life[edit]

Silverman was born in Bedford, New Hampshire[1][2][3][8] to Beth Ann and Donald Silverman, and was raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. Beth Silverman had been George McGovern's personal campaign photographer, and would found the theater company New Thalian Players. Donald had training as a social worker and also ran the clothing store Crazy Sophie's Outlet.[9][10]

Silverman's parents divorced and remarried.[11][12] Silverman is the youngest of five siblings. Her sisters are Rabbi Susan Silverman, screenwriter Jodyne Silverman, and actress Laura Silverman; her brother Jeffrey Michael died when he was 3 months old.[13] She considers herself Jewish,[14] though was not "raised with any religion."[15]

The first time Silverman performed standup comedy was in Boston at age 17. She described her performance as "awful".[16] After graduating from The Derryfield School in Manchester, New Hampshire, she attended but did not graduate from New York University and performed standup comedy in Greenwich Village.[17][18][19][20]

Career[edit]

1992–2007: Career beginnings and Jesus is Magic[edit]

After beginning her stand-up comedy in 1992, Silverman was part of the 1993–94 season of Saturday Night Live (SNL) for 18 weeks as a writer and featured player. She was fired after one season where only one of the sketches she wrote survived to dress rehearsal and none aired, although she did appear on the show as a cast member. Bob Odenkirk, a former SNL writer, explained, "I could see how it wouldn't work at SNL because she's got her own voice, she's very much Sarah Silverman all the time. She can play a character but she doesn't disappear into the character—she makes the character her."[17] She has stated that she was not ready for SNL when she got the job.[21] She said that when she was fired it hurt her confidence for a year, but after that nothing could hurt her.[21] Later, she was grateful that her SNL time was short because it didn't end up defining her.[22] She parodied the situation when she appeared on The Larry Sanders Show episode "The New Writer" (1996), playing Sanders' new staff writer, whose jokes are not used because of the chauvinism and bias of the male chief comedy writer, who favors the jokes of his male co-writers. She appeared in three episodes of Larry Sanders during its final two seasons.

Silverman was a featured performer on the HBO sketch comedy show Mr. Show (1995–97) and played the leading role in the 1997 independent film Who's the Caboose?, involving a pair of New York comedians (Silverman and director Sam Seder) going to Los Angeles during pilot season to try to get a part in a television series; the film features numerous young stand-up comedians in supporting roles but never received a widespread theatrical release. Silverman and Seder later made a six-episode television series sequel entitled Pilot Season in which Silverman stars as the same character and Seder again directed. She also made TV program guest appearances, including on Seinfeld in the episode "The Money" (1997); Star Trek: Voyager in the two-part-time travel episode "Future's End" (1996); V.I.P. in the episode "4812 Hours" (2002); Greg the Bunny as a series regular (2002); and on the puppet television comedy Crank Yankers as the voice of Hadassah Guberman (2003, 2007). She made her network standup comedy debut on the Late Show with David Letterman in July 2007.[23] She had small parts in the films There's Something About Mary, Say It Isn't So, School of Rock, The Way of the Gun, Overnight Delivery, Screwed, Heartbreakers, Evolution, School for Scoundrels, and Rent, playing a mixture of comic and serious roles.

Silverman's concert film, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic, based on her one-woman show of the same name, was released in 2005. Liam Lynch directed the film, which was distributed by Roadside Attractions. It received 64% positive ratings based on 84 reviews on the film critics aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes,[24] and earned approximately US$1.3 million at the box office[25] As part of the film's publicity campaign, she appeared online in Slate as the cover subject of Heeb magazine and in roasts on Comedy Central of Pamela Anderson and Hugh Hefner.

Silverman played a therapist in a skit for a bonus DVD of the album Lullabies to Paralyze by the band Queens of the Stone Age. Silverman also appears at the end of the video for American glam metal band Steel Panther's "Death To All But Metal." On Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Silverman parodied sketches from Chappelle's Show, replaying Dave Chappelle's characterizations of Rick James and "Tyrone" as well as a Donnell Rawlings character based on the miniseries Roots. In 2006, Silverman placed 50th on Maxim Hot 100 List.[26] In 2007, she placed 29th and appeared on the cover.[27]

2007–2010: The Sarah Silverman Program[edit]

Silverman at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival

Silverman's television sitcom The Sarah Silverman Program debuted on Comedy Central in February 2007. The show had 1.81 million viewers.[7][28] It portrays the day-to-day adventures of fictionalized versions of Silverman, her sister Laura, and their friends. A number of comedic actors from Mr. Show have appeared on The Sarah Silverman Program. Silverman was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award[29] for her acting on the show. At the awards ceremony, she wore a fake mustache. Comedy Central canceled The Sarah Silverman Program after three seasons.[30]

In June 2007, she hosted the MTV Movie Awards. During her opening act, she commented on the upcoming jail sentence of Paris Hilton, who was in the audience, saying: "In a couple of days, Paris Hilton is going to jail... As a matter of fact, I heard that to make her feel more comfortable in prison, the guards are going to paint the bars to look like penises. I think it is wrong, too. I just worry she is going to break her teeth on those things."[31] In September 2007 she appeared at the MTV Video Music Awards. Following the comeback performance of Britney Spears, Silverman mocked her on stage, saying: "Wow, she is amazing. I mean, she is 25 years old, and she has already accomplished everything she's going to accomplish in her life."[32]

In January 2008, she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to show Jimmy Kimmel, her boyfriend at the time, a special video. The video turned out to be a song called "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" in which she and Matt Damon sang a duet about having an affair behind Kimmel's back. The video created an "instant YouTube sensation."[33] She won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards. Kimmel responded with his own video a month later with Damon's friend Ben Affleck, which enlisted a panoply of stars to record Kimmel's song "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck".[34] On September 13, 2008, Silverman won a Creative Arts Emmy for writing the song "I'm Fucking Matt Damon".[35] Silverman guest-starred in a second-season episode of the USA cable program Monk as Marci Maven. She returned in the sixth season premiere and for the 100th episode of Monk. According to the audio commentary on the Clerks II DVD, director Kevin Smith offered her the role that eventually went to Rosario Dawson, but she turned it down out of fear of being typecast in "girlfriend roles". However, she told Smith the script was "really funny" and mentioned that if the role of Randal Graves was being offered to her she "would do it in a heartbeat." She appeared in Strange Powers, the 2009 documentary by Kerthy Fix and Gail O'Hara about cult songwriter Stephin Merritt and his band the Magnetic Fields. Silverman wrote a comic memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, which was published in 2010.[citation needed]

2011–present: Take this Waltz and other projects[edit]

Silverman performing at UCB in LA, January 2013

Silverman played a dramatic role alongside Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen in the film Take This Waltz, written and directed by Sarah Polley. The film was well received when it premiered in Toronto in 2011[36] and was picked up by Magnolia for U.S. distribution in summer 2012.[37] Much was made of the fact that the movie features a full frontal nude scene from Silverman,[38] which the actress has spoken about on several occasions. At the Toronto International Film Festival, she told the press she'd deliberately gained weight for the part, emphasizing that Polley wanted "real bodies and real women."[38] In interviews she warned fans not to expect too much.[39] However, she later told podcaster and author Julie Klausner that she had not really gained weight for the role, and that the statements were meant as self-deprecating humor.[40]

On September 20, 2012, Silverman made a public service announcement (PSA) criticizing new voter identification laws that create obstacles to the ability of certain U.S. populations to vote in the November presidential election, i.e., young, old, poor, and minority citizens. The project was financed by the Jewish Council for Education and Research (JCER) and was co-produced by Mik Moore[41] and Ari Wallach (the pair that also co-produced The Great Schlep and Scissor Sheldon).[42]

Silverman also voiced Vanellope von Schweetz, one of the main characters in the 2012 Disney animated film, Wreck-It Ralph. She is in the creative team that writes and produces the content for the YouTube comedy channel called JASH. The other partners are Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (also known as Tim & Eric). The JASH channel premiered online March 10, 2013.[43][44][45][46] In Seth MacFarlane's western comedy film, A Million Ways to Die in the West, she played Ruth who is in love with Edward (Giovanni Ribisi). It was released on May 30, 2014.

HBO has announced that Silverman will star with Patti LuPone and Topher Grace in a situation comedy pilot called People in New Jersey, produced by SNL's Lorne Michaels.[47] The pilot was not picked up for a series order.

Controversies[edit]

Racial slur[edit]

In a July 2001 interview on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Silverman used the ethnic slur "chink" in explaining that a friend advised her to avoid jury duty by writing a racial slur on the selection form, "something inappropriate, like 'I hate chinks.'" Silverman said she decided that she did not want to be thought of as a racist, so "I wrote 'I love chinks' — and who doesn't?"[citation needed]

Silverman claimed the joke satirizes the racist thought process. Guy Aoki of the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) objected to her use of the slur.[48][49] NBC and O'Brien apologized, but Silverman did not. Later, appearing on Politically Incorrect in July and August 2001, Silverman questioned Aoki's sincerity, accusing him of exploiting the opportunity for publicity. On a later episode, Aoki appeared with Silverman and stated he did not accept Silverman's explanation, saying that it was not successful satire and that comedians should consult with groups such as his before performing such material. She stated in an NPR "Fresh Air" interview that she was asked to repeat the joke on Politically Incorrect, among other places, but eventually dropped it from her act because she felt it was becoming stale.[21]

Silverman has since turned the complaint into grist for her standup act, saying that the experience helped teach her the important lesson that racism is bad: "And I mean bad, like in that black way."[50]

The Aristocrats[edit]

A minor controversy arose over Silverman's performance in the documentary film The Aristocrats (2005). The film shows her giving an apparently autobiographical account of her life as a child sex performer and mentions that Joe Franklin, a New York radio and TV personality whose nostalgic programs have aired since the early 1950s, would ask her to perform privately for him in his apartment. Silverman looks at the camera and, in a deadpan voice, accuses Franklin of raping her. The film was edited in such a way that it appears as if Franklin knows what Silverman said about him. Later, after her clip, Franklin is shown stating, "Sarah Silverman is a young lady to watch."[citation needed]

After the film came out, Franklin took offense at Silverman's using his name and considered suing her. A month later, The New York Times noted he remained undecided but said, "The best thing I could do is get Sarah better writers so she'd have funnier material."[51]

Hammersmith Apollo performance[edit]

In October 2008, Silverman visited the United Kingdom to promote the release of The Sarah Silverman Program on Paramount Comedy, but her debut performance at the Hammersmith Apollo was widely criticized for its brevity. After the warmup act failed to appear and Silverman rushed through a short set, she was forced to return to the stage for an impromptu question-and-answer session following some heckling from the audience. Steve Bennett from the comedy website Chortle declared that "with this shockingly brief performance she delivers a stinging insult to the fans who had been so ready to laud her."[52][53] In an interview on the How Was Your Week podcast, Silverman stated that the show had been one of the best of her life and that the audience reaction had been misreported by the press.[40]

"Scissor Sheldon"[edit]

On July 16, 2012, Silverman set up a website called "Scissor Sheldon" on which she proposed to perform sexual acts with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in exchange for his making a monetary contribution to the Obama reelection campaign.[54] She stated that her reason for the proposition was that large numbers of wealthy Republicans were already supporting the Mitt Romney campaign for president. The site also has a page which lists some information about Adelson as well as calling him Romney's "sugar daddy".[55][56][57]

"Black NRA"[edit]

In September 2013, Silverman appeared in a Funny or Die video claiming to be an NRA spokesperson promoting a new group, "The Black NRA". The video featured black actors stating the Second Amendment is for everyone and sarcastically asking, "You don't have a problem with this do you?"[58] Gun advocate and NRA spokesperson Colion Noir accused Silverman of bringing race into the gun debate: "Take a volatile social issue like the second amendment, subtly imply that the largest organization in defense of that amendment is racist, and then swipe your comedian plausible deniability card so you can wrap it in satire without consequence."[59]

Political activist and Daily Caller satirist, Jim Treacher, accused Silverman of being "incredibly racist".[60] Treacher pointed to a screenshot of Silverman pointing a gun to her neck, "One last note, Sarah. Actual gun-safety advocates — which is to say, NRA members — know that you never, ever do this, even if you know the gun is fake or unloaded or whatever. Even if it would be really fun to see what would happen next."[61]

Personal life[edit]

Silverman lives in Los Angeles, she became a vegan at the age of ten.[62] She has also said that she does not consume alcohol because it nauseates her. Silverman is open about her lifelong battle with clinical depression, which at one point led to her developing an addiction to Xanax. She credited her subsequent emotional health to taking the prescription drug Zoloft.[19][63][64] She struggled with bedwetting from the time she was young until well into her teens and stated in a 2007 interview that she had wet the bed recently.[65] Her autobiography, published in April 2010, entitled The Bedwetter, explores the subject, among others.

She has stated she does not want to get married until same-sex couples are able to.[66] She stated she does not want to have biological children to avoid the risk that they might inherit her depression.[67] Silverman's biological sister Laura played her sister on The Sarah Silverman Program.

An older sister, Susan, is a rabbi who lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Yosef Abramowitz, the co-founder and president of Arava Power Company, and their five children.[68][69][70] Silverman considers herself ethnically Jewish, which she has frequently mined for material, but says she is agnostic[14] and does not follow the religion, claiming, "I have no religion. But culturally I can't escape it; I'm very Jewish."[71][72]

Silverman was in a relationship that began in 2002 with comedian Jimmy Kimmel.[65] She referred to the relationship in some of her comedy, joking: "I'm Jewish, but I wear this Saint Christopher medal sometimes; my boyfriend is Catholic—but you know... it was cute the way he gave it to me. He said if it doesn't burn a hole through my skin, it will protect me."[17]

In July 2008, Vanity Fair reported that the couple had split, ending their relationship of five years. However in October 2008, the media reported they were on "the road back to being together."[73] The couple attended the wedding of Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky together,[74] but split again in March 2009.[75]

Silverman began dating television writer Alec Sulkin in early 2010.[76] The pair met via Twitter after she sent him a personal message. They split up months later (October 2010) but remain friends.[77] Silverman and comedian Kyle Dunnigan were in a relationship from October 2011[78][79] to December 2013.[80] Silverman began dating Welsh actor Michael Sheen in January 2014.[81][82]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Who's the Caboose? Susan Also co-producer
1998 Overnight Delivery Turran
1998 Bulworth American Politics Assistant
1998 There's Something About Mary Brenda
1999 The Bachelor Carolyn
2000 What Planet Are You From? Woman on Plane Uncredited
2000 Screwed Hillary
2000 The Way of the Gun Raving Bitch
2001 Say It Isn't So Gina
2001 Heartbreakers Linda
2001 Evolution Denise
2002 Run Ronnie Run Network Executive #3
2002 Strippers Pole Actress Short film
2003 School of Rock Patty Di Marco Nominated – Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Sleazebag
2003 Bad Santa Teacher Uncredited
2004 Hair High Cherri (voice)
2004 Nobody's Perfect N/A Short
2005 The Aristocrats Herself Documentary
2005 Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic Herself
2005 Rent Alexi Darling
2006 I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With Beth
2006 School for Scoundrels Becky
2007 Futurama: Bender's Big Score Michelle (voice) Direct-to-video
2008 Super High Me Herself Documentary
2008 A Bad Situationist Jamy Shonelike Direct-to-video
2009 Saint John of Las Vegas Jill
2009 Funny People Herself
2010 Peep World Cheri Meyerwitz
2011 The Muppets Restaurant greeter Cameo
2011 Take This Waltz Geraldine
2012 Wreck-It Ralph Vanellope von Schweetz (voice) Nominated – VES Award for Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
2014 A Million Ways to Die in the West Ruth

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1993–1994 Saturday Night Live Various 18 episodes; Also writer
1995–1998 Mr. Show with Bob and David Various 11 episodes
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Rain Robinson 2 episodes
1996–1998 The Larry Sanders Show Wendy 3 episodes
1997 Brotherly Love Rosa Episode: "Pizza Girl"
1997 Seinfeld Emily Episode: "The Money"
1997 JAG Lt. Schiparelli Episode: "Blind Side"
1997 The Naked Truth Ali Walters Episode: "Look at Me! Look at Me!"
1998 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Herself (voice) Episode: "Alderman"
1999 Late Last Night Jen TV Movie
2000 Manhattan, AZ Dakota Episode: "Jake's Daughter"
2002 V.I.P. Lucy Stanton Episode: "48 1/2 Hours"
2002 Saddle Rash Hanna Headstrong (voice) Pilot
2002 Greg the Bunny Alison Kaiser 13 episodes
2000, 2013 Futurama Michelle (voice) 2 episodes
2003 Frasier Jane Episode: Maris Returns
2003–2007 Crank Yankers Hadassah Guberman (voice) 4 episodes
2004 Pilot Season Susan Underman 2 episodes
2004 Entourage Herself Episode: "Talk Show"
2004 Aqua Teen Hunger Force Robositter (voice) Episode: "Robositter"
2004 Drawn Together Bleh (voice) Episode: "The Other Cousin"
2004, 2007–2008 Monk Marci Maven 3 episodes
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series (2008)
2005 American Dad! Stripper (voice) Episode: "Stan Knows Best"
2005 Tom Goes to the Mayor Barb Dunderbarn (voice) Episode: "Pipe Camp"
2006 Robot Chicken Various voices 2 episodes
2007–2010 The Sarah Silverman Program Herself 32 episodes; Also co-creator, writer, executive producer
Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (2009)
2010, 2012 The Simpsons Nikki (voice) 2 episodes
2011 The Good Wife Stephanie Engler Episode: "Getting Off"
2011 Childrens Hospital Britches Episode: "Ward 8"
2011 Bored to Death Lori Episode: "I Keep Taking Baths Like Lady Macbeth"
2011, 2013 The League Heather Nowzick 2 episodes
2011–2014 Bob's Burgers Ollie / Lead Singer (voices) 18 episodes
2012–2014 Louie Herself 3 episodes
2013 Out There Amy (voice) Episode: "Ace's Wild"
2013 Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles Herself Stand-Up Special

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Artist Notes
2009 Death to All But Metal Steel Panther [83]
2013 We Do Not Belong Psychic Friend [84]
2013 Perfect Night will.i.am [85]

Video Game[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Disney Infinity Vanellope Von Schweetz (voice)

References[edit]

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  83. ^ "Steel Panther- Death to All But Metal (Official Music Video)". YouTube. September 23, 2009. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  84. ^ "Psychic Friend - "We Do Not Belong" Starring Sarah Silverman (Official Music Video)". YouTube. September 23, 2013. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 
  85. ^ "Sarah Silverman's Perfect Night featuring Will.i.am". YouTube. Retrieved April 18, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jessica Alba
MTV Movie Awards host
2007
Succeeded by
Mike Myers