Women's Impact Report: The Producers
For Allison Silverman, childhood was no laughing matter.
“Probably the funniest thing about me as a kid was how seriously I took everything,” Silverman says. “I was never a class clown.”
She soon got over that. Now the head writer and an exec producer of “The Colbert Report,” Silverman has one of the most crucial jobs of contemporary American comedy, ushering onto the air the unpredictable daily antics of Comedy Central’s resident faux right-wing nut.
“I never came close to picturing my experience with this show,” Silverman says from her New York office an hour before the day’s taping. “I was sure that this show would have heart and would be funny because of Stephen, but I never imagined a ride this great.”
Silverman and her team have developed a talent for maintaining the purity of the wacked-out anchor’s indignant ideological perspective.
“We spend a lot of time figuring out what the character would do,” she says. “Our take on jokes and news stories is, ‘What does this character think about this?’ — as opposed to what we think. That sometimes feels like driving down the freeway in reverse.”
The current election year is providing rich fodder for Colbert’s scathing satire. “As the political and cultural landscape is changing,” she says, “we need to have this character’s reaction to it change.”
Silverman, who won an Emmy as a writer-producer on “The Daily Show” — a gig she left for a similar role on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” prior to joining Colbert in 2005 — started performing and writing comedy at Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Fla., where she grew up, before hooking up with the improv comedy troupe the Exit Players at Yale U.
Despite the limelight of her current job, Silverman allows herself a private life. During a two-week hiatus in early July, she became engaged to a Broadway set designer, and she sees children in their future.
“It’s great,” she says, “to get a laugh out of a kid.”
Role model: “Michael Palin.”
Three things I can’t do without: “Lungs, pancreas, skin.”
What I’m reading now: “Why Americans Hate Politics” by E.J. Dionne
If not Hillary, then who? “To paraphrase a great man, ‘Some see Hillary as she is and say then who? I dream of Hillarys that never were and say who not?’ ”
Fave leisure activity: “Exploring Brooklyn.”
Career mantra: “Yes, and…”