There are definitely moments in every comic's career – I think it's healthy – to have a kind of identity crisis. Because you don't want to give the audience just what they expect. Especially if what they're expecting is to be surprised. It becomes a lot of second-guessing. And then what you have to realize is comedy just doesn't thrive in second-guessing. There's nothing funny about second-guessing what the audience might want to see and then trying to do that. Then the realization is just, like, “I have to get back to what I think is funny today” or “who I am now, what is funny to me?” And you hope your audience or a new audience or someone also thinks that's funny.
But you can definitely – if you look at comics in the '80s, they were such personas, such iconic personas. They're still alive now but they still do [in a mock-funny voice] “hickory dickory dock” or whatever. You have a choice of being a caricature of yourself that becomes very dated, and it might be what people came out to see, but it's, to me, the wrong choice. You need to keep moving, like a shark, like anyone else in the world. Grow and change and let your comedy reflect what that is at that time. Oh my god, I'm not being funny in this interview at all! You caught me in a deconstructionist morning.
Yeah, I don't know how we're going to rescue this one.
Oh [bleep]! See that's why I always want to do emails because I can think for a second, but everyone gets so offended! I mean, I love talking to you, hearing your voice, talking in the moment, but if you need a better answer you can email me and then I can think about it for two seconds. But then when I say “how about an email interview?” the article always starts with “she only does interviews by email.” It's because I need to think about [bleep]! Give your thoughtful questions a thoughtful answer. I mean, I understand, talking, there's a back and forth, but I don't know...I'm not so quick like other people. I don't do much crowd work.
As a comedian, people must confront you a lot in public like “Sarah Silverman, say something funny.” What do you do when, like, the barista at Starbucks confronts you like that?
I'm either hilarious or a wild disappointment. I don't know at any given time. I just woke up. I live in Los Angeles now so it's very rarely that anyone is impressed or starstruck. Nobody's impressed out here. But that's another thing – like, people recognize me, but there are stars [who] live out here and stuff – I'm definitely more approachable, so I think people definitely come up to me more than like a Gwyneth. People think they know me. I'm like the person where people go like “did we go to camp together? How do I know you?”
Since your act can be so inappropriate, do people come up to you and say really inappropriate things?
Oh yeah. I can't tell you how many times. People will think I'm disgusting! They talk to me and tell me the grossest things, and I know it's because they think I'll like it, so I'm forced to, like, swallow my disgust and go like “oh, ha ha ha ha, yeah, that's great.” And it's like “ew! I'm a lady!” Like every time I do press it's like [in faux-intimidating voice] “potty-mouth Sarah Silverman” and I just don't think of myself that way at all! I understand that I am clearly creating this, but, I don't know, I don't think of myself as dirty. I am, I guess, but I don't think of that.
Somebody on Twitter sent me a picture from a textbook, like in Texas or something, a real textbook. And on the page – this must be for kids! – it's describing the two meanings of “offensive.” And one is a football player, like, on the offense, and then one is me! Like it's nationwide common knowledge that I'm offensive! You're teaching kids that I'm the definition of offensive? Show a picture of like, the Real Housewives of wherever. That's offensive. That's unacceptable behavior for women.
I think I'm great for women. I think I'm a better role model for little girls than white-wine-drunk housewives being [bleep]-y to each other. Or the behavior of grownups judging people for who they love. What's more offensive? Or old white men telling women what to do with their vaginas. Topeka, Kansas just made it legal to beat your wife! It's like we're really scarily plummeting into the '50s. If the '70s could see us now, they'd be horrified...
I hate to be “us and them” about it because I want to feel like everyone on both sides of this very divided country wants the same things and loves their families. But the right is just motivating people with fear, and I think that's just such a negative, scary, dangerous thing. Women just got like a little too independent and powerful [for them]. Just the notion that your employer can decide if he wants to cover your birth control or not? I guess we live in a Christian country. These people who are so protective of the Constitution, it's really bizarre. I find them pointing fingers at people at things that they are doing.