Commentary: Funny girl
HOLLYWOOD — As Hollywood bowed down to Hillary Clinton, who swept through on a state visit with Chelsea on Friday, there seemed to be only one person here with any reservations.
“I want her to take a voice class,” Sarah Silverman said, as she curled and uncurled like a cat on the gray couch of her modest West Hollywood apartment decorated with taped-up pictures of her family.
“She’s so smart and has so much to say and can change the world but she’s” — here Silverman goes fortissimo — “TALKING LIKE SHE’S YELLING AT YOU. She sounds like a mom who’s yelling at you. And it triggers a response.”
What response does Ted Cruz trigger?
“Terrifying,” she says. “He’s disgusting, and one day I Wikipedia-ed him, and I’m like four days older than him, and it made me so depressed.”
She does credit conservatives with being deviously effective at naming things. “Citizens United,” she says. “What sounds more beautiful than that?”
The comedian says she’s “not smart enough” about politics, and in an HBO special, airing Nov. 23, she sticks to her usual sweet depravity with jokes about rape, porn, Jews and her family. But she became a hilarious viral force in the last two elections.
In 2008, she did the “Great Schlep” video urging Jews with grandparents in Florida to withhold visits to “bubbie” and “zadie” unless they agreed to vote for Barack Obama.
In 2012, she offered Sheldon Adelson “an indecent proposal” involving a bikini bottom and a lesbian sexual treat if he would give $100 million to Obama instead of Mitt Romney.
She teased Mitt on Twitter, asking about his sexual proclivities. And she quickly got a million views for her video slamming voter ID laws.
When a rabbi wrote to JewishPress.com to criticize Silverman’s “Let My People Vote” campaign, suggesting that she should “channel” her passion into marriage and children, her dad defended her with a few of the off-color words he taught Sarah when she was a toddler.
But Silverman, whose persona has always been that of the adorable, pigtailed child-woman, defended herself recently after some younger male comics mocked her as a crone, in Hollywood terms. She admitted to W. Kamau Bell on his TV show, “Totally Biased,” that it took a couple of days to recover her self-esteem.
At a Comedy Central roast of James Franco, Jonah Hill said, “Sarah is a role model for every little girl out there. I mean, every little girl dreams of being a 58-year-old single stand-up comedian with no romantic prospects on the horizon. They all dream of it, but Sarah did it.” (Silverman is 42 and dates comedian Kyle Dunnigan.)
Hill also offered this shot: “People say it’s too late for Sarah to become successful in movies at her age. I again do not agree. It’s not impossible. I mean, it’s not like they’re asking you to bear children or anything like that.”
Roast Master Seth Rogen introduced her as “No. 29 on Maxim’s Hot 100 — in the year 2007.”
Silverman told Bell that “as soon as a woman gets to an age where she has opinions and she’s vital and she’s strong, she’s systematically shamed into hiding under a rock. And this is by progressive pop-culture people!”
Looking like a lithe college girl in a blue and white striped T-shirt, sweatpants, sneakers and no makeup, she stressed to me that “everything goes” at a roast and that she brutally dishes it out — she leveled fat jokes at Hill at the roast — so she has to take it.
And her philosophy is that women should not get special favors but just be the best at what they do. “That’s what makes strides for women,” she says. “Be undeniable.”
Still, the taunts hit a chord. You can be the toughest girl on the block and still be vulnerable, as Hillary learned in New Hampshire in 2008, when she got emotional.
Silverman said she was up for a role recently, and “it was between me and a 25-year-old to play the love interest of the 50-year-old man, and I lost it.” She laughs ruefully.
“These issues always come up when an actress hits a certain age and has a voice she can use,” she says. “It’s not any kind of new notion. It’s just new for me, you know what I mean? I love all those guys. Still, I think it was OK to admit that it cut me. We’re just made of feelings.”
She adds that jokes about appearance play differently: “Look, Jonah Hill can be fat; guys can be fat and still deserve love in this society. You know? In white America, overweight women don’t deserve love.”
The gender divide comes up again when I ask her about having kids, given her riff in the HBO special about how much she loves them.
“Maybe I would have had kids if I had a wife,” she says. “I have a lot of guy comic friends who have families because they have wives and they raise the kids. And I’m on the road all the time, and I date other people who are on the road. But I guess I really just was never ready. I still don’t feel like I’m ready. My plan is to adopt and be like young grandma age.”