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Sarah Silverman may be known for her hard-hitting, controversial comedy, but she is aware that her past sketches may prove to still haunt her years later — even her career.
During a recent discussion on The Bill Simmons Podcast, the comedian and actress admitted that a particular scene from a 2007 episode of The Sarah Silverman Program in which she sports blackface caused her to lose a role in an upcoming film.
“I recently was going to do a movie, a sweet part, then at 11 p.m. the night before they fired me because they saw a picture of me in blackface from that episode. I didn’t fight it,” Silverman shared with Simmons. She said that though she understood, she’s not that person anymore: “They hired someone else who is wonderful but who has never stuck their neck out. It was so disheartening. It just made me real real sad, because I really kind of devoted my life to making it right.”
Silverman is no stranger to being outspoken, and she and Simmons discussed how the “canceled culture” has caused comedy to become a “dangerous place” for those who have made many mistakes in their past.
“I think it’s really scary and it’s a very odd thing that it’s invaded the left primarily and the right will mimic it,” Silverman said, further arguing that she considers the current climate to be “righteousness porn.”
She added: “It’s like, if you’re not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once … everyone is, like, throwing the first stone. It’s so odd. It’s a perversion. … It’s really, ‘Look how righteous I am and now I’m going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.'”
Aware that she’s not “immune” to the culture herself, Silverman said she has sympathy for those who have endured hate from the public: “I don’t like liars, but I do have compassion for the lied-to’s.” She alluded to Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi turned peace advocate who was a guest on her former Hulu show I Love You, America. “He’s changed,” she argues. “Someone had to see the possibility of change in him.”
“All the time I think, ‘Is this just a Christian Picciolini in the making?’ … As I draw lines in the sand and I wish for other people on the left to do this, too, you have to ask yourself, ‘Would I want this person to be changed or do I secretly want them what I deem as wrong?’ … It’s gross,” said Silverman.
Though not mentioned in her sit-down with Simmons, Silverman has shared that she remains friends with Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari and Al Franken, each of whom have been called out with allegations during the #MeToo movement. Despite comedians having done or said things that spurred controversy, Silverman says the new climate has an influence on how they deliver their jokes and what they say.
“It’s OK to go, ‘Wow, look at this back then. That was so fucked up looking at it in the light of today of what we know,’ but to hold that person accountable if they’ve changed with the times, like for me … I held myself accountable. I can’t erase that I did that, but I can only be changed forever and do what I can to make it right for the rest of my life,” she said. Silverman further asserted that it should be acknowledged that “comedy is evergreen.” “If I look back on my old self and don’t cringe, there’s something wrong. Because if you’re putting yourself out there, it’s not going to be timeless,” she said.
Silverman’s comments are not the first time she’s discussed being affected by the times. In a GQ profile last year, the comedian admitted the political climate has not only changed her as a person but also as a comic. “I’m just fundamentally different. You have to take a chance and go with where you are and what is funny to you now,” she said. “When comics really establish a thing and they get famous for it, a lot of them are really terrified to change. Then they become caricatures of themselves.”
Listen to Silverman’s full interview below.
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