Sarah Silverman ('The Sarah Silverman Program')
'Turning Silver Into Gold!'
From stand-up comedy to film to television, Sarah Silverman has seen her share of success. Last year, Silverman made an impressive splash when the feature length film version of her one-woman show, "Jesus is Magic," directly by Liam Lynch, opened in theaters to rave reviews.
Silverman most recently co-starred in the feature film, "School For Scoundrels," opposite Billy Bob Thornton and John Heder for the Weinstein Brothers. Prior to the release of "Jesus," Silverman garnered glowing reviews in the documentary feature "The Aristocrats," in which she co-starred with 100 of the industry's most prominent comedians.
On television, Silverman co-starred in the Fox comedy, "Greg the Bunny," opposite Eugene Levy and has guest-starred in acclaimed and notable shows such as, "The Larry Sanders Show," "Seinfeld," "Mr. Show with Bob and David" and COMEDY CENTRAL's "Crank Yankers." Silverman will also return to host the Independent Spirit Awards in February of 2007.
Silverman grew up in New Hampshire and attended New York University. While in Manhattan she began to pursue the comedy scene and logged as much time in the comedy clubs as she did in the classroom. In 1993, she joined "Saturday Night Live" and has not stopped working since.
The Sarah Silverman Program Airs On Logo Beginning
Tuesday, February 9 At 10:30 pm.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Sarah Silverman about her upcoming 'The Sarah Silverman Program - Season Three' - and first wondered what kind of subjects was she going to be touching on this season? "Letís see. My imaginary friend from childhood comes back as an adult and we have a lesby affair. Thereís some wedding action, and itís very funny. Thereís a new mayor in town who makes gay sex and brunch illegal. I go on 'Real Time with Bill Maher.' Ed Asner is in an episode as a Nazi war criminal. Man, Ed Asner is about 80, and Murray, who is on our show, Gershams, is 87, and theyíre such pros that when theyíre not shooting, they're in their chair sleeping. Just like containing their energy. And we have some really great pictures of elderly Nazi war criminals in set chairs sound asleep!"
It seems like youíve got a blend of shock and comedy on tap once again, but do you know when some things have gone too far? "I donít think shock is bad. I donít think it is. I donít think itís derived in particularly sweaty ways. I think it comes a little more organically. I do think weíre not more beholden to shock than story, or anything."
"Actually, we never go for shocking if itís not funny to us. I mean, I think that we go for aggressively dumb, but I donít know because that has been what really makes us laugh in the room lately, like the biggest compliment you can get is, ďThat is so Ö dumb"!Ē
Well, as we all know, your character on TV uses bad language, rants unashamedly, and is full of sticky-sweet self-importance at the best of times. But in real life, honestly, is there anything taboo to you? Some subject or person that you wonít touch; and if so, why? "Well, I donít like to make fun of people, real people, and the only times Iíve done that is if itís a Roast or stuff like that. You know what I donít like? When people ask me that, I always think of the same thing, which is I donít like jokes about fat women. I donít like fat jokes about women, and itís just not tit for tat, you know? Like fat women in white America donít deserve love, and I donít think thatís anything to make fun of, you know what I mean? Itís a bummer."
Actually, thereís a quote from ďFamily Guy,Ē thatís so brilliant about that, that encapsulates exactly how I feel about it, which is likeóoh, Iím not going to say it right, but itís ó you know the father, Peter, and the sonówhatís his name, Chris? Chris is like, ďWell, weíre fat,Ē and Peter goes, ďChris, fat guys arenít fat. Only fat women are fat.Ē Itís just so true in our society, and it bums me out. It never makes me laugh, it just makes me go, ďUgh".Ē
It seems like the first couple episodes of this season have more of a cinematic tone. Is that how you see them also? "Well, not deliberately, but yes, I think cinematic certainly. Iím glad you guys got some of the episodes. I think the first one, 'Proof is in the Penis' feels really cinematic to me. We just havenít been on the air in 14 months, and that kind of kills us in our hearts, but we just really wanted to start with this one because it just felt like for people who are fans of the show. We know youíve waited a long time and hereís something that may be kind of special. Or worth the wait. That has slow reveals, and just feels maybe like something special. We love that episode."
Since you were nominated for an Emmy, has that created higher expectations for yourself, and for the show in general? "Well, weíve always had high expectations for the show. Not in terms of accolades, but we work on it the same. I think everyone that works on it has this awesome love for it. I know itís so corny when people say that, but we really are like a group of friends. We stand on the set, not just the cast and the writers, but the crew. With all our huge, crazy insane gaps in production, all the crew works their way back to the show because we just have such an awesome time. We stand around going, ďOh my God. Weíre making show business. Like this is going to be on TV"!Ē
"It doesnít seem fair to get to do what we all love so much."
"We didnít expect it so much, that none of us knew they were even announcing the Emmy nominees. I just woke up to my alarm clock and looked on my phone, and saw like eight calls, and I thought there was an emergency. It just never occurred to us ever, and then it was so great. We couldnít believe it. I couldnít believe it, and weíre so happy that anyone, especially the hoity-toits, would appreciate our show as much as we do. It was awesome."
"It would have been great to have some sort of momentum with the other award shows in the season, but we werenít eligible for any of the others; Golden Globes or SAG Awards, or any of that stuff because we werenít on the air in 2009, at all. It will have been 14 months since the last time we were on when we air on February 4th. Youíd think we were ďThe SopranosĒ or ďLostĒ with these gaps, and not a twenty-one and a half minute show about fart jokes, but weíll take it. We really love it. We love being together and making this super-super dumb, funny, silly show."
How do you feel about your gay fans? "Well, they saved us! We wouldnít be on the air if it wasnít for Logo. Not that thatís the only reason why, but I meanóitís funny because I was talking to some gay friends of mine, and they were just like; itís not just that Steve and Brian are gay, itís just kind of the subversive humor. Itís that kind of like absurdist stuff is I guess up, the cup of tea of a lot of people in the gay community; maybe more in general than the straight community. I donít know, but yeah. Iím just so grateful."
So, what kind of cool things can fans expect from the upcoming DVD of 'Season 2, Volume 2'? "Hold on, Iím going to look at it right next. I just got a box of them. First of all, letís see. Itís the rest of Season 2. Season 2 got split up by the strike for us. Thereís also a bunch of animated shorts. Thereís some great behind the scenes stuff. We did audio commentary."
"The behind-the-scenes stuff is really cool on it, actually, because we always just have somebody around with a flip camera or something, backstage, and they grab us between scenes, or whatever, and make something cool out of it. And then, just all the episodes."
What was it like to work with Steve Buscemi on 'Saint John of Las Vegas'? "Oh, he is so amazing. Iím so happy to know him now, and heís just the kindest, most sincere, but like also the silliest man. He just takes my breath away. Sometimes weíd be doing a scene, and I would just be watching him. Like you forget youíre part of it, because you just want to sit and just watch him."
"But heís such a great guy, and heís so in love with his wife and his kid. Whenever his phone would ring and he would see it was one of them, heíd just go like, ďOh!Ē and itís so cute. I just loved it; to work with him and Peter Dinklage and Romany Malco, who is like, I want him to be my life coach. Heís just got everything figured out. Heís such a neat guy."
"The only bad story I have from that is I flew in to New Mexico. I mean, I just took it right away, because I was like, Steve Buscemi, okay, whatever. I flew the next day, and I had to go straight from the airport to wardrobe. And we started trying things on and nothing fit. The wardrobe woman just starts tearing up, literally getting choked up with tears, and she goes, ďI got all size 0s, and youíre like an 8.Ē I was just like, ďOh, Iím sorry.Ē So humiliating, but what are you going to do?"
"It ended up being super fun, and even she was really nice, but it was hard to feel like you hurt someoneís feeling because youíre too fat. But it was really fun. Iím so happy itís coming out. I just started seeing ads for it on TV, and I was like, ďOh my God".Ē
Finally, Iíve heard you talk before about your battle with depression. I was wondering, when youíre in that dark place, how do you continue to think and write comedically? "You know what? I think the best answer to that is just practice. Practice, you know, when you do it every day, and itís part of what you do. Youíre able to channel it through whatever mood. And also, I think my sadness or my happiness, or any kind of manic thing; it forms whatever kind of work I do in that day."
"Sometimes itís hard. I have dark times. Honestly, Iím pretty much a happy person, and I like being happy. I like being content. I think people that romanticize it donít really know how bad it is, like sadness."
"There was a time one day when I felt like tears had been filling me up for days, and Iíd been pressing them down. Then I was shooting one morning ... and it just happened where literally Rob said, ďActionĒ and I went to talk and nothing came out. And just like tears. I felt soóand it was just one of those things where I said, ďIím sorry. Iím sorry.Ē It just almost became totally physical. I just was likeóand they were, ďItís okay. Letís take five.Ē And half of me is crying, I donít even know why, and half of me is crying because I just feel so bad for holding things up!"
"Itís just so cool, because my real life sister plays my sister, and she was there to do the scene after that, and so they were like, ďDo you want us to get Laura?Ē And I was like, ďYes.Ē And she came in and she got into my pretend bed, and just rubbed my hair and told me stories about when I was little, and it just made everything better. It was just such a sweet, weird, bizarre, but homey, almost, experience. And then I felt better, and I was like, ďI feel better, but Iím afraid to call the crew back, because I know when I see their faces, Iíll cry. Because they love me.Ē
"But we ended up making the day, no problem. It was good. It was just one of those big cries that you donít expect every couple years, and it was so weird. But I think of it almost fondly, because I just love those guys so much, and to have my own sister right there was nice."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
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