Sarah Silverman on Ranting Rabbis, Doing 'Louie' and Her Kid-Friendly Killer App (Video)
Sarah Silverman wants to play with your kids.
What began as a passing thought over brunch while entertaining a friend’s toddler -- Hey, I would make a pretty great babysitting app! -- wound up taking the comedian more than a year to produce, delayed even further by a launch week marred by technical glitches. But "Uncle Sarah" is at last up and running.
Think of it as a 99-cent vacation, allowing overworked parents to indulge in some me-time as Silverman occupies their kids with a round of peek-a-boo or a suspiciously quotidian fairy tale, like the one that begins, “Once upon a time there was a princess, and all she wanted was some coconut water in a glass bottle from Whole Foods.” Spoiler alert: It’s a happy ending. (Watch her tell the story in an exclusive clip on the next page.)
If you find yourself the least bit apprehensive at the thought of leaving young children alone with the 41-year-old Silverman -- a provocative stand-up and actress whose pet topics include rape and racism and who once called summer camp “the second-worst camp for Jews” -- allow her to be the first to set you at ease.
“I have a ton of material for toddlers,” Silverman tells The Hollywood Reporter. “My friends are all having babies now, and I love kids.”
That this uncharacteristically G-rated venture should coincide with the release of Disney’s animated feature Wreck-It Ralph -- in which Silverman voices sweet-toothed video game character Vanellope von Schweetz -- wasn’t intentional but rather a “kind of kismet,” Silverman says, before acknowledging that “both are odd things for me.” And why shouldn't Silverman enter the fray, when even the most hallowed of children's entertainment properties -- Sesame Street -- isn't immune from controversy?
"That guy created one of the most indelible children's characters of the past generation," Silverman says, referring to Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, who resigned last week amid multiple allegations of having had sex with minors.
"That’s so sad," she says. "Especially because Sesame Street is so pristine. ... Was it rape? I know technically it was statutory rape, but was it consensual? But who cares if it was consensual. Right. I mean, look: Statutory rape is a little different from rape -- a lot different. I guess that’s not the quote I need to be giving." She pauses, then puts on her best Todd Akin voice: "It wasn’t legitimate rape." After struggling to make sense of a story that ultimately makes little, Silverman concludes, "I don’t know what to say. It’s pretty weak."
It was anyone but Uncle Sarah who appeared on NBC’s The Tonight Show late last month, ditching her tomboy uniform for something she calls “the sexy secretary look” -- her hair worn up in a messy bun, a sheer tangerine top offering viewers a peek-a-boo of a very different nature. She looked hot, and the audience responded in kind with enthusiastic cat calls.
The show’s host, Jay Leno, made mention of Silverman’s pro-Barack Obama political videos, the most recent of which -- a dirty-minded PSA on voter fraud tactics released six weeks before the presidential election -- went viral, racking up 2.6 million views in a matter of days. (It's a staggering number, especially when you consider that the president's own Election Night victory speech has amassed a little more than 500,000.) She called the video “Let My People Vote” -- a title that drew a scathing rebuke in the Jewish Press from Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt.
Rosenblatt objected to how the video was “framed in biblical language.” He also admonished Uncle Sarah for the absence in her life of a (Jewish, presumably) husband and her own brood. “[Raising a family] will allow you to understand and appreciate the traditional lifestyle’s peace, security and respect for human dignity -- things you have spent your life, so far, undermining,” he wrote.
“I get hundreds of those a day,” Silverman laughs as she recounts the story. “I didn’t even see [the letter] until The Huffington Post published it with my dad’s comments. I was like, 'What’s this?' ” Indeed, the letter would most likely have gone unnoticed were it not for an angry response left beneath it by Donald Silverman, Sarah’s father.
"Hey Rabbi Idiot,” he wrote. “Is your wife allowed to go to a minion or sit at the front if a bus or choose between abortion or birth? Take your false god and shove god up your judgmental ass. Check your wonderful Bible and learn about your cruel god from a book you believe in literally." Donald had similarly colorful language for commenters who later came to the rabbi’s defense.