Sarah Silverman (b. 1970)

Reference: Wikipedia
Sarah Silverman (b. December 1, 1970)

Sarah Kate Silverman (b. December 1, 1970)

Sarah Kate Silverman (born December 1, 1970)[1] is an American comedian, writer, 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.[2][3]

Silverman first gained notice as a writer and occasional performer on Saturday Night Live. She starred in and produced The Sarah Silverman Program, which ran from 2007 to 2010, on Comedy Central.[4]

Early life

Silverman was born in Manchester, New Hampshire[5] to Beth Ann and Donald Silverman. Her parents are divorced and each remarried—to John O’Hara (deceased) and Janice, respectively.[6][7]

Silverman is the youngest of 4 siblings: Rabbi Susan, screenwriter Jodyne, and actress Laura Silverman. She is Jewish, though was not “raised with any religion”.[8]

After graduating from The Derryfield School in Manchester, New Hampshire, she attended New York University and continued her stand-up in Greenwich Village.[9][10][11][12]

Career

1993–2007: Career beginnings and Jesus is Magic

Silverman first received national attention in the 1993–94 season of Saturday Night Live (SNL) as a writer and featured player. She was fired after one season because only one of the sketches she wrote survived to dress rehearsal, and none aired. 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.”[9] Silverman states[where?] she was upset when SNL fired her via fax. 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). She made TV program guest appearances on Seinfeld, in the episode “The Money” (1997); on Star Trek: Voyager, in the two-part time travel episode “Future’s End” (1996); on V.I.P. in the episode “4812 Hours” (2002); on 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 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 movie, distributed by Roadside Attractions. It received 64% positive ratings based on 84 reviews on the film-critics aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes,[13] and earned approximately US$1.3 million at the box office[14] 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 #50 on Maxim Hot 100 List.[15] In 2007, she placed #29 and appeared on the cover.[16

2007–2010: The Sarah Silverman Program

Silverman’s television sitcom, The Sarah Silverman Program, debuted on Comedy Central in February 2007. The show proved to be a ratings success, scoring the highest premiere ratings of any Comedy Central show in three years, with 1.81 million viewers and the highest 18–49 rating of the night on cable.[4][17] 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 reappeared on The Sarah Silverman Program. Silverman was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award[18] 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.[19]

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, “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.”[20] 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.”[21]

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”.[22] 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”.[23] On September 13, 2008, Silverman won a Creative Arts Emmy for writing the song “I’m Fucking Matt Damon”.[24] 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.”

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 warm-up 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 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.”[25][26] 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.[27]

She also appears 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.

2011–present: Take this Waltz and other projects

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[28] and was picked up by Magnolia for U.S. distribution in Summer 2012.[29] Much was made of the fact that the movie features a full-frontal nude scene from Silverman,[30] 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”.[31] In interviews she warned fans not to expect too much.[32] 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.[27]

A single camera comedy pilot by Silverman was given the go ahead by television network NBC in 2011 after a bidding war between multiple networks.[33] Arrested Development producer Ron Howard was reported to have been personally involved in the development process of the series.[34] It was to be loosely based on Silverman’s life as a woman who had just ended a decade long live-in relationship.[33] The series was tentatively titled Susan 313 and received a put pilot commitment, which would require the network to pay a large fine if the pilot was not aired.[35] However, NBC did not pick up the series for the fall 2012 season.[36]

Silverman also provided the voice for Vanellope von Schweetz, one of the main characters of the 2012 animated movie Wreck-It Ralph.

Silverman 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, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (also known as Tim & Eric). The JASH channel premiered online March 10, 2013.[37][38] [39][40]

Controversy

Racial slur

In a July 2001 interview on NBC’s Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Silverman used the ethnic slur “chink” 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?” Silverman said that 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.[41][42] 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 an episode of the show, Aoki appeared with Silverman, and stated that 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. Silverman stated in an NPR’s Fresh Air interview that she was asked to repeat the joke on Politically Incorrect, among other places, but she eventually dropped the joke from her act because she felt it was becoming stale.[43] Silverman has since turned the complaint into grist for her stand-up act, saying that the experience helped teach her the important lesson that racism is bad: “And I mean bad, like in that black way.”[44]

The Aristocrats

A minor controversy arose over Silverman’s performance in the documentary film The Aristocrats (2005). The film shows Silverman giving an apparently autobiographical account of her life as a child sex performer and mentions how 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”. After the film came out, Franklin took offense to 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.”[45]

“Scissor Sheldon”

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 Barack Obama campaign for re-election.[46] 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”.[47][48][49]

“Let My People Vote”

On September 20, 2012, a new public service announcement (PSA) made by Silverman was posted on letmypeoplevote2012.com[50] It satirically criticized 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[51] and Ari Wallach (the pair that also co-produced The Great Schlep and Scissor Sheldon). Much media attention focused on the opinions of some that the language and/or the humor of the video was offensive.

Rabbi controversy

On October 11, 2012 Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt’s “Open Letter to Sarah Silverman” appeared in the op-ed section of TheJewishPress.com. After acknowledging his appreciation of her humor, Rosenblatt criticized references to the Bible and Judaism in her “Let My People Vote” PSA, and advised her to get married and have children. The piece elicited hundreds of reader comments, including two scathing rebuttals from Silverman’s father, Donald.[52]

Personal life

Silverman Currently lives in Los Angeles, California alongside her beloved Dog Duck.[53]

Silverman has been a vegetarian since the age of ten.[54] 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 prescription drug Zoloft.[11][55][56] She struggled with bedwetting from the time she was young until well into her teens and has stated that the last time she wet her bed was when she was fired from Saturday Night Live.[43][56] Her autobiography, published in April 2010, entitled The Bedwetter, explores the subject, among others.

Silverman talked about having dated Dave Attell on one of her appearances on The Howard Stern Show. Silverman and Colin Quinn joked about having been romantically linked during her Saturday Night Live career. In her first appearance on the Stern show in June 2001 she said she was dating someone named Tom who wrote for SNL. Silverman was in a relationship that began in 2002 with comedian Jimmy Kimmel.[57] She referred to the relationship in some of her comedy, “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.”[9] 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.”[58] The couple attended the wedding of Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky together,[59] but split again in March 2009.[60]

Silverman began dating American television writer Alec Sulkin in early 2010.[61] The pair met via Twitter, after Silverman sent him a personal message. They split up months later (October 2010) and remain friends.[62]

Silverman and comedian Kyle Dunnigan have been “in a relationship” since October 2011.[63] [64]

Silverman has stated she does not want to get married until same-sex couples are able to.[65] She has also stated she does not want to have biological children to avoid the risk that they might inherit her depression.[66] Silverman’s biological sister Laura played her sister on The Sarah Silverman Program.

An older sister, Susan, is a rabbi who lives in Jerusalem, Israel with her husband, Yosef Abramowitz, the co-founder and president of Arava Power Company, and five children.[67][68][69]

Silverman is a fan of Jenny Lewis and appeared in Lewis’ music video for the song “Rise Up With Fists!!” Steve Martin was one of her major inspirations as a younger comedian.[70]

She considers herself ethnically Jewish, which she has frequently mined for material, but says she is agnostic[71] and does not follow the religion, claiming, “I have no religion. But culturally I can’t escape it; I’m very Jewish”.[72][73] Her humor has also touched on other religions. In 2009, she suggested the Pope sell the Vatican and use some of the money for luxurious housing and the remainder to stop world hunger, saying he would “get crazy pussy”.[74]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1997 Who’s the Caboose?’ Susan Underman
1998 Overnight Delivery Turran
Bulworth American politics assistant #2
There’s Something About Mary Brenda
1999 The Bachelor Carolyn
2000 What Planet Are You From? Woman on plane Uncredited
Screwed Hillary
The Way of the Gun Raving bitch
2001 Black Days Kristen
Say It Isn’t So Gina
Heartbreakers Linda
Evolution Denise
2002 Run Ronnie Run Network executive #3
2003 School of Rock Patty Di Marco
2004 Hair High Cherri Voice
2005 The Aristocrats Herself Documentary
Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic Herself Documentary
Rent Alexi Darling
2006 I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With Beth
School for Scoundrels Becky
2007 Fired! Herself Documentary
Certifiably Jonathan Herself Documentary
Futurama: Bender’s Big Score Michelle Voice
2008 Super High Me Herself Documentary, cameo
2009 Funny People Herself Cameo
2010 Saint John of Las Vegas Jill
2011 Peep World Cheri Meyerwitz
The Muppets Restaurant greeter Cameo
Take This Waltz Geraldine
2012 Wreck-It Ralph Vanellope von Schweetz Voice
2014 A Million Ways to Die in the West Laurel Filming

Television

Year TV Role Notes
1993–1994 Saturday Night Live Writer and performer
1995 Mr. Show Various
1994–1996 The Larry Sanders Show Wendy
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Rain Robinson “Future’s End” Part 1 & 2
1997 Brotherly Love Rosa
Seinfeld Emily
JAG Lt. Schiparelli
1998 Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Herself
1999 Late Last Night Unknown
2000, 2007 Futurama Voice Two episodes
2002–2004 Greg the Bunny Alison Kaiser Voice
2002–2007 Crank Yankers Various Voice
2003 Frasier Jane “Maris Returns”
2003–2004 Celebrity Poker Showdown Herself Twice
2004 Pilot Season Unknown Miniseries
Entourage Herself
Aqua Teen Hunger Force Robositter Voice
Drawn Together Cousin Bleh
Monk Marci Maven
2005 American Dad! Voice “Stan Knows Best”
Tom Goes to the Mayor Voice (“Pipe Camp”, episode 11)
2006 Comic Relief Herself Stand-up
2007 Monk Marci Maven Her second episode
The Andy Milonakis Show Herself
2007–2010 The Sarah Silverman Program Sarah Silverman Nominated – Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series (2009)
2008 Monk Marci Maven “Mr. Monk’s 100th Case”
8 out of 10 Cats Herself
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross Herself
The Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget Herself Pre-recorded video message
2010–2012 The Simpsons Nikki Episodes: 21.15 “Stealing First Base”, 24.1 “Moonshine River”
2010 Warren the Ape Herself
2011–2012 Bob’s Burgers Ollie Six episodes
2011 The Good Wife Stephanie Engler “Getting Off”
The League Heather Nowzick “Thanksgiving”
Childrens Hospital Britches “Ward 8”
2012 Louie Herself Two episodes
The Burn with Jeff Ross Herself
Captain Underpants Ms. Ribble
Talking Dead Herself

Web

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Equals Three Herself [1]

Solar energy

At the 2011 Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem, in an interview with Yigal Ravid, Silverman spoke about her support for solar power as a project on which Israelis and Palestinians could work together. Silverman endorsed solar energy not only as good for the environment but as a peace-building industry as well. She said:

When I think about peace… and I think about the Jews and the Palestinians…. I think the only real solution is the classic buddy-movie formula… You take two enemies and they are forced to work together on some common goal and in the end they realize they aren’t that different. Right? So they’ve got to come together either for some common goal—how about solar power? [to applause] How about solar power!? How about powering the world with this beautiful sun they share?[75]