SCAT SINGING Sarah Silverman

The recent Webby Award
recipient and Comedy Central mainstay doesn’t just cross boundaries – she
laughs as she does it.

 

BY ED CONDRAN

 

It isn’t easy to offend a New Yorker. Those who trudge
through the pothole ridden, urine-scented streets are oblivious to the legions
of homeless begging for change, the overwhelming sea of humanity at rush hour
and angry cabbies screaming obscenities in a myriad of languages.

 

However, when Sarah Silverman performed at a downtown club
and told some Nazi-holocaust jokes, a bunch of Gothamites rushed for the exits
as if an act of terrorism was committed. Silverman, 36, is on a comic jihad.
The pretty, sexy, raunchy standup is freaking people out.

 

“Without the people who walk out, there is no provocative
comic,” Silverman says. Those people are part of that comic’s identity. That
said, I’m not looking to offend. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. I want
to make them laugh.”

 

Jimmy Kimmel’s better half is making comedy fans laugh,
cringe and at times explode in knee-slapping fits of hysteria. “I was raped by
a doctor,” Silverman says. Which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl. The
politically incorrect performer’s sex joke warms up the audience for her racial
crack. “Everyone blames the Jews for killing Christ,” she offers. “And then the
Jews try to pass it off on the Romans. I’m one of the few people that believe
it was the blacks.”

 

Silverman’s edgy, mean-spirited and often scatological humor
helped make her sitcom Comedy Central’s
The Sarah Silverman Program
the funniest show on the air (with apologies to
NBC’s 30 Rock. It’s rare that a
contemporary show could be as angry and hilarious as Silverman’s show. The
brilliant ‘80s sitcom Buffalo Bill, which featured Dabney Coleman,
and Jay Mohr’s short-lived vehicle Action,
which aired during the ‘90s, are examples of shows on a par with Silverman’s
stab at television. Apparently, such exceptional programs come along once a
decade. Silverman also won a coveted Webby Award recently in recognition of her
YouTube hit “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” as well as her political activism via “The
Great Schlep.” The Webbys proclaimed her to be “a viral superstar and a
comedienne representative of cutting-edge online culture.”

 

Female comics as funny as Silverman are even rarer than
outstanding sitcoms. The New
Hampshire native might be the most amusing comic with
breasts since Drew Carey. While interviewing Silverman, you can’t help but
notice how cool she is while just shooting the breeze. Silverman earns respect
without even trying. I found a common denominator between my Silverman
conversation and a discussion with comic-actor Janeane Garofalo. Each of their
dogs barfed during the interviews. Garofalo used her dog’s illness as a reason
to end the chat. However, Silverman poked fun at her pooch.

 

How can a girl be cool, cute, hot, smart and funny? I asked
Silverman just that and inquired if there was something wrong under the hood.
She admitted that there is something awry.

 

As a teenager, Silverman was severely depressed. “I would
miss months of school,” she recalls. I would have panic attacks and was given Xanax.
At my most depressed, I was given 16 Xanax a day. The happiest day of my life [at
16] I was weaned off of my last Xanax and I was alright.” Thanks to her depression,
Silverman was in her latter teens when she lost her virginity. She’s taking her
time with sex in terms of characters she’s played on screen as well. “I’m such
an asshole. I’ve made my own movie [Jesus
is Magic
] and I have my own show where I have complete power over my
character, and I made her a sexless douche in both. I’m an idiot.”

 

Silverman is far from a dope. Her character may be sexless –
and that was exploited to full effect during the episode in which Silverman
thought she was a latent lesbian – but her sitcom humor is actually funny,
which is a far cry from the polite, conflict-free form of boob tube
entertainment. Having a successful sitcom wasn’t Silverman’s goal, but she’s
not opposed to it. “I didn’t always want a sitcom,” she says, “but I grew up
with sitcoms and watched and loved them all. Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, MASH, Family Ties, Benson, My Two Dads, My
Sister Sam, Silver Spoons, It’s Your Move
– I could go on forever.”

 

Silverman is comfortable with her life as a humorist and her
relationship with Kimmel. “We’re different in a lot of ways but I’ve learned so
much from him,” she says. “He’s the most prolific writer and all-around idea
man I’ve ever met.”

 

There’s another side to Silverman which is actually sweet
and sensitive that her fans don’t often get to see. After cracking up her
followers and weirding some of them out during her aforementioned New York performance,
the pop culture-consuming future icon examined some CDs I handed to her.

 

The discs comprised overlooked gems of the last half decade.
One platter was Silverchair’s Diorama.
The under-heralded release is filled with melodic pop-rock recalling the
Flaming Lips and Jeff Buckley. However, when most music fans think of
Silverchair, images of the half-baked rock the band made as 13 year olds during
the mid-‘90s comes to the fore. It was obvious that flashed through Silverman’s
comedic mind. However, she suppressed her urge to call me a dink. “They’re
supposed to be good, right?” Silverman said, as she flashed a big, nervous
smile after accepting Diorama.

 

It would have been a perfect time for Silverman to slag me,
but she’s not all about insults and shocking humor. What’s most intriguing
about the mercurial performer is that she’s the full package. She’s got the
looks; she can sing, dance and make people laugh; and she doesn’t give a damn
what anyone thinks. Silverman is kind of girl that women would be comfortable
enough to hang out with and guys would like to date.

 

What’s most appealing about Silverman, though, is that she’s
a dangerous performer. You never know what she’s going to do when she steps in
front of a camera or appears onstage. There aren’t enough unpredictable
performers in the world of entertainment, the kind that just might step over
the line. Silverman doesn’t just cross boundaries – she laughs as she does it.

 

“I just go up and express myself. You can’t worry about what
people think, but I hope they laugh.”

 

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