Sarah Silverman, one of the funniest women alive, signing copies of The Bedwetter
*4/20/10 7:00 PM at Barnes & Noble – Warren Street. New York, NY.
*4/22/10 6:30 PM at Borders Books – 18th & L Street. Washington DC.
*4/23/10 6:00 PM at Brookline Booksmith – Harvard Street. Brookline, MA.
*4/28/10 7:30 PM at BookPeople – North Lamar. Austin, TX.
*4/29/10 7:00 PM at Book Soup – Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA.
Funny, irreverent, fearless, hardcore… All were used at one time or another to describe actress and bawdy comedienne Sarah Silverman and her unremitting style of humor. Silverman, in fact, built a career tackling controversial subjects head-on. While most might have only scratched the surface, Silverman dove right into the murky depths of race, religion and sex – though she did not explore them as issues per se. Instead, her blasé, seemingly prejudiced outbursts served to effectively deflate taboos; her winsome looks excused her “offenses.” However, taking on these issues was not without its controversies. Silverman was fired from her regular gig on “Saturday Night Live” (NBC, 1975- ), and in 2001, while appearing on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” (NBC, 1993- ), Silverman uttered a racial slur against Asian-Americans and was immediately castigated for it. But through it all, Silverman rarely checked her sharp tongue or curbed her cutting-edge comedy, making even the most hard core male comics blush on occasion – including on-and-off offscreen boyfriend, Jimmy Kimmel, for whom she dedicated the YouTube video sensation, “I’m F*cking Matt Damon.”
Born Dec. 1, 1970, Silverman grew up one of four daughters in a middle-class home in Bedford, NH. Even as a young girl, she was always interested in comedy, even writing the phrase “I Love Steve Martin” on her bedroom ceiling instead of posting the requisite Shawn Cassidy or Erik Estrada pictures of the day. At age 17, Silverman performed her first stand-up act at Stitches in Boston, MA. After dropping out of New York University, she graduated to open mic appearances in Manhattan, which led to regular comedy gigs and tours around the country. While on the road, she was spotted by scouts for “S.N.L.,” and at only age 22, found herself writing and performing on the legendary sketch show. Silverman first appeared as a Not Ready for Prime Time Player in 1993, but immediately got herself into trouble with the NBC censors. One of her first bits was a commentary on the regular spot, “Weekend Update,” where she joked about her desire to have an abortion, only to discover that she was only thirsty. More trouble ensued for Silverman behind the scenes, and the nonconformist soon found herself out of a job.
She returned to performing stand-up, while guest appearing on “Seinfeld” (NBC, 1989-1998) in the 1997 episode, “Money;” as Rain Robinson on two 1996 episodes of “Star Trek: Voyager;” and a 1997 episode of Tea Leoni’s sitcom, “The Naked Truth” (NBC, 1995-98). She enjoyed a recurring stint as writer Wendy Traston on “The Larry Sanders Show” (HBO, 1992-1998) during the 1996-98 seasons. Silverman also made her feature film debut in “Who’s the Caboose?” (1997), a mockumentary satirizing the television industry’s most competitive time of pilot season. The actress had a few small roles in bigger Hollywood fare, including the Farrelly Brothers’ hit “There’s Something About Mary” (1998), Warren Beatty’s political satire “Bulworth” (1998), and “The Bachelor” (1999), starring Chris Connelly and Rene Zellweger, none of which upped her big Hollywood profile as much as her own comedy was about to.
Silverman attracted unwanted media scrutiny with her “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” appearance by uttering the slur “chink” in her act – which, not surprisingly – created a relentless firestorm spearheaded by the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans. Though Silverman never officially apologized, she did write a heartfelt letter to the organization. Though the controversy faded, it left Silverman embittered, but determined more than ever to not temper her comedic instincts for telling it like she saw it, no matter how politically incorrect and vulgar it might seem to others.
Meanwhile, Silverman landed a regular gig as Alison Kaiser on the Fox show, “Greg the Bunny” (2001-02) and continued to land parts in major films including “Evolution” (2001), starring David Duchovny and Julianne Moore, and “Heartbreakers” (2001) with Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Also in 2001, Silverman participated in Comedy Central’s Friar’s Club Roast of Hugh Hefner, where she first met host Jimmy Kimmel and zinged him onstage with, “He’s fat and has no charisma. Watch your back Danny Aiello!” Soon after, Kimmel signed Silverman to join the cast of improvisational crank callers in “Crank Yankers” (Comedy Central, 2002-05, MTV2, 2005- ). Several years later the pair’s working relationship developed into a long-term romance that seemed uncharacteristically sweet, given both comic’s propensity for cynicism. In contrast, onscreen, Silverman played an uber-bitchy girlfriend in “School of Rock” (2003), the Jack Black vehicle about an unemployed rocker who impersonates a grade school substitute teacher and creates a supergroup of preteen classic rockers.
Though she appeared many times on screens both large and small, Silverman always returned to her first love: stand-up comedy. She inked a deal with HBO to write, produce and star in her own comedy special airing in late 2003, but unfortunately, the deal was shelved. She turned instead to do business with Comedy Central for a 2005 sketch show. Meanwhile, Silverman was one of dozens of comedians vying to tell the dirtiest version of an old Vaudeville joke in “The Aristocrats” (2005), a documentary produced by Penn Jillette, the gregarious half of comedy team, Penn & Teller. Though the joke contained no real punch line, the point was to tell the most egregious version to unsettle new initiates. Silverman, of course, pushed the enveloped by pretending the joke was not a joke at all – resulting in one of the more disturbing versions in the film.
After she competed in a couple of tournaments on “Celebrity Poker Showdown” (Bravo, 2003- ), Silverman continued to land roles in popular TV series, appearing on an episode of “Entourage” (HBO, 2004- ), as well as voiced characters on the animated series, “Drawn Together” (Comedy Central, 2004- ) and “American Dad” (Fox, 2004- ). She finished a busy 2005 headlining her own comedy concert feature film, “Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic,” in which she unleashed some of her edgiest live stand-up routines, skewered the controversy that her “Conan” appearance had fanned, and included several humorous musical interludes in which she demonstrated both a clever talent for creating scatological lyrics, as well as an impressive singing voice. The same year, she had a brief turn as a TV producer in the big screen adaptation of the Broadway sensation “Rent” (2005).
In February of 2007, Silverman launched her own sitcom, “The Sarah Silverman Program” (Comedy Central, 2007- ) which was a fictionalized take on her own life, co-starring her sister Laura and alternative comedy mainstays Jay Johnston and Brian Posehn. Later in the year she hosted the MTV Music Awards – during which she famously dissed Britney Spears’ mothering skills – and received glowing reviews for her role in comedian Jeff Garlin’s debut feature, “I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With,” playing Garlin’s love interest. That fall, the comedian was stunning in an ad campaign for GAP, striking a pose that was surely meant to mock models, though the irony may have been lost on audiences, as she unwittingly looked every bit the part.
In early 2008, Silverman made perhaps, her biggest mainstream splash yet when she premiered a little “homemade” present she had “whipped together” for her boyfriend in honor of the fifth anniversary of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Almost as quickly as the hilarious “I’m F*cking Matt Damon” – a kind of musical “Dear John” video for Kimmel – aired on his show, it went viral on the Internet within 24 hours and became one of the most viewed videos in YouTube history. With Matt Damon, himself, breakdancing and singing in the third person – all the while comically rubbing salt in Kimmel’s perceived wounds – the video was a homerun for Silverman. Sadly, only months later, she and Kimmel parted ways after five years together – but not before Kimmel returned the video slight with his own music video kiss-off, “I’m F*cking Ben Affleck,” which was equally, if not more, popular. Not letting a sentimental thing like a broken love affair stop her, Silverman was nominated for an Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy for her third appearance as Detective Adrian Monk’s (Tony Shalhoub) biggest (and scariest) fan, Marci Maven, on the popular USA Network comedy, “Monk” (2002- ). Meanwhile, she received another Emmy nod, this time for her work on “The Sarah Silverman Show,” which earned her a nomination in the lead actress – comedy series category in 2009.