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Friday, June 4, 2010

Who is Sarah Kate Silverman?

Who is Sarah Kate Silverman? The entertinment world knows her as an American comedian, writer, actress, singer and musician. Although usually credited as Sarah Silverman, she is sometimes credited by her nickname, Big S. Her satirical comedy addresses social taboos and controversial topics such as racism, sexism, and religion.

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 Feb 2007 to May 2010, on Comedy Central.[1] She often performs her act by playing a caricature of a Jewish-American princess, mocking bigotry and stereotypes of ethnic groups and religious denominations, by having her comic character endorsing them in an ironic fashion.[2][3][4]


Early life

Sarah Silverman, the youngest of four daughters, was born December 1, 1970 in Bedford, New Hampshire. Her mother, Beth Ann Halpin, was George McGovern's personal campaign photographer and founded the theater company New Thalian Players.[5] Her father, Donald Silverman, was a social worker by training who ran the discount clothing store Crazy Sophie's Outlet. Her family is Jewish, the descendants of immigrants from Poland and Russia.

She appeared in community theater at age 12, most notably with Community Players of Concord, New Hampshire in "Annie" and also appeared on a local television show in the Boston area called Community Auditions at age 15. She attended The Derryfield School in Manchester, New Hampshire. At seventeen, she performed stand-up comedy in a restaurant, singing a song she called "Mammaries". She then attended New York University and continued her stand-up in Greenwich Village.[6][7][8][9]

Career


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."[6] Silverman states 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 last 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 "48 1/2 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. Her stand-up comedy act, a one-woman show, was released in 2005 as a feature film, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic. 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. In 2005, 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".

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."

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. The parody addressed a popular rumor that Silverman was the planned replacement for Chappelle after he left his popular television show.

In 2006, Silverman placed #50 on Maxim Hot 100 List.[10] In 2007, she placed #29 and appeared on the cover.[11] She made the cover of The Observer in the United Kingdom, with an article naming her "the world's hottest, most controversial comedian".[12]

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."[13] 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."[14]

In January 2008 she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to show Jimmy Kimmel, her boyfriend, 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".[15] 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".[16]


On September 13, 2008, Silverman won a Creative Arts Emmy for writing the song "I'm Fucking Matt Damon".[17]

In October 2008, Silverman visited the United Kingdom to promote the release of The Sarah Silverman Program on Paramount Comedy, but her media and stage performances failed to impress audiences. Her debut stand-up performance at the Hammersmith Apollo was widely panned by the critics and audiences alike. The performance bombed when Silverman's warm-up act failed to appear and Silverman rushed through a short 35-40 minute set. The heckling audience, who had been charged £40-50 a seat, refused to leave the theatre and Silverman, sporting a pair of after-show slippers, was forced to return to the stage for an impromptu question and answer session. Steve Bennett from comedy website Chortle declared that "minute for minute, there are sex phonelines that are cheaper than Sarah Silverman."[18][19]

Silverman sold her idea of a book of humorous essays to HarperCollins for $2.5 million. The Observer reported that David Hirshey
was her editor.[20][21] The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee was released in April 2010.[1]

Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic

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. Rotten Tomatoes gave Jesus Is Magic a "fresh" rating of 64% with 54 positive reviews and 30 negative ones, with the "cream of the crop" giving it a rating of 67%.[22] It made US$124,475 on its opening weekend, showing on seven screens. The box office performance led to an expanded release in as many as 57 theaters, resulting in a box office take of more than US$1.3 million.[23] The DVD was released in June 2006. The soundtrack featured songs and standup from the movie, and previously unreleased songs.[24]

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.[1][25] 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 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.[26]

Controversy

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.[27][28] NBC and O'Brien apologized, but Silverman did not, later appearing on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher 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.[24] 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."[29]

A minor controversy also 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, accused 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.[30]

Personal life

Silverman has said that she does not consume alcohol, because it nauseates her. She is open about her lifelong battle with clinical depression, crediting her subsequent emotional health to taking prescription drug Zoloft.[8][31][32] She struggled with bedwetting from the time she was young until well into her teens and has joked that the last time she wet her bed was when she was fired from Saturday Night Live.[24][32] Her biography published in April of 2010, entitled The Bedwetter, touches heavily on that very subject.

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. A February 2007 magazine article said Silverman was in a relationship that began in 2002 with Jimmy Kimmel, host of Jimmy Kimmel Live![33] 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.[6]" In July 2008 Vanity Fair reported that the couple had split, ending their relationship of five years. However in October 2008 it was revealed by Fox News and People magazine that they were on "the road back to being together."[34] The couple attended the wedding of Howard Stern together,[35] but split again in March 2009.[36]

Silverman has stated she does not want to get married until same-sex couples are able to.[37] She has also stated she doesn't want to have biological children to avoid the risk that they might inherit her depression.[38]

Silverman's biological sister Laura plays her sister on The Sarah Silverman Program. Another sister, Susan, is a rabbi who lives on a kibbutz in Israel with her husband and five children.[39]

Silverman is a fan of Jenny Lewis and appeared in Lewis' music video for the song "Rise Up With Fists!!" She is also a fan of comedian Steve Martin who was one of her major inspirations as a younger comedian.[12] Silverman enjoys playing Scrabble on the Internet. One of her regular opponents is Alyssa Milano who lives in the same building as her.[31] She credited comedian Tig Notaro as one of her best friends in an interview in The Advocate.[37]

She is ethnically Jewish, which she has frequently mined for material, but does not follow the religion claiming "I have no religion. But culturally I can’t escape it; I’m very Jewish."[40][41] 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."[42]

As of January 2010 Silverman is dating Family Guy producer/writer Alec Sulkin.[43]

Filmography

Features:


Short subjects:

  • Strippers Pole (2002)
  • Nobody's Perfect (2004)
  • Supermarket (2004)
  • Give The Jew Girl Toys (satirical music video)
  • Confetti

Television work


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1 comment:

Caleb said...

I hope she goes off Zoloft if she ever gets pregnant because there are a lot of Zoloft birth defects that can cause issues for her unborn baby!

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