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Fucking and Sucking

Don’t hate Sarah Silverman because she’s beautiful. Hate her because she’s beautiful and extremely funny. Jaw-droppingly, did-she-just-say-what-I-think-she-said? funny. Like this: “I was raped by a doctor. . . which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.”

When you see her around town at Largo or the Improv or Upright Citizens Brigade, it’s like Springsteen showing up at an open mike. She blows everyone else away. “I hate it when comics are born into the alternative scene and adopt this bitterness and superiority toward mainstream clubs even though they have no experience themselves to lead them to these conclusions — snarky comics who never even worked the road but think they are above it all. That’s so gay.”

Her observations are delivered with an invisible wink that assumes you know what she really means. In other words, she always plays to the highest common denominator, a rarity in the “what’s up with that?” world of standup comedy. It’s also the the type of dangerous humor that has landed her in a vat of hot water on occasion. (Try Googling “chinks” and “Sarah Silverman.”)

“I can’t say shit just so it will make people mad. I have no desire to do that. It’s just that sometimes shit I think is funny bums some people out.”

Jokes about racism are not racist, but they depend on the audience seeing a larger context of the point she’s making. And having to explain what makes a joke funny . . . well, that just makes it not funny.

Lately, more and more people are getting the joke. Silverman’s one-woman film Jesus is Magic was an indie hit, and now she’s getting her own show on Comedy Central called The Sarah Silverman Program, set to debut this summer or fall. She plays a character named Sarah Silverman. “It’s ridiculous. I think that may be the most accurate description.” And working for a corporation like Comedy Central? “On the one hand, they are the man, but on the other, their notes have been 85 percent really, really, helpful, I have to say.”

And she’s not above dispensing her own advice. To young, upcoming comics (Silverman started doing standup in her teens), she advises, “Just get up as much as you can and hang with your comic peers and make each other laugh. It should be what you want to do anyway. Also, I can’t stress this enough — lots of fucking and sucking.”

So, if Kathy Griffin is queen of the D-list, what list does Sarah Silverman rule? “I’m on another D-list, but it stands for diarrhea. Sorry, it’s been a long day. They’re not all gems. Diarrhea is in my bag of tricks. It’s a diarrhea crutch. A crutch literally made of human diarrhea.”

Now that she has her own show, which she co-produces, will she turn into another Roseanne and fire her writers? “Yes. Definitely.” But is she poised to become America’s next sweetheart? “Um, did I mention I’m Jewish?”


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