POSTED BY STUART LEVINE
While there were several great laughs to be had by Sarah Silverman and her “Sarah Silverman Program” entourage Friday night at the Paley Center for Media, I found her most intriguing when playing it straight.
Near the end of the discussion, moderated by On the Air’s own Cynthia Littleton, Silverman started talking about Greg Aoki, the president of Media Action Network for Asian Americans, and how he started a firestorm after Silverman used a racially offensive term in telling a joke in 2001 on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.”
In describing the aftershocks of the incident, Silverman told how Aoki brought a few dozen of folks to the studio audience of “Politically Incorrect” to hound and castigate her, while she came to the Bill Maher’s chatfest hoping to engage in a worthwhile conversation about the incident. She eventually determined that Aoki wasn’t worth apologizing to, and decided that all of her humor — while some may find offensive and derogatory and others will laugh til it hurts — is never worth apologizing for.
Comedy is subjective, and the first time you have to make excuses to those who don’t get the joke, your credibility is forever lost. You may or may not like her humor or punchlines, but she’s a pro who delivers the funny right on target every time.
And then there was the insight into when the series filmed a scene at a church in South Central L.A., Silverman told of a racist cop’s remarks that were so despicable that it left many in the Paley crowd in jaw-dropping awe.
As for the insight into the Comedy Central show, or should we say the “Program,” it’s in the third season of production right now, while it doesn’t draw an audience the size of “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” it cuts to the core of who Silverman is. So, basically, you like Sarah, you like the show.
Other topics of discussion Friday included her upbringing in New Hampshire (at 3 years old she would stand by the side of the road with a boy, putting feces on sticks and waving it as the cars drove by), making lifelong friendships while living in the dorms at NYU and living — with boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel — next to several gay neighbors who are the inspiration for the gay couple on the series.
Just before the evening ended, Silverman, pictured here with her sister Laura, confessed that if she could be any character on “Lost,” she would be Jack, and thought his season-ending episode last year was a mind-bender. Here’s wondering if she’s interested in throwing Matt Damon under the bus for a YouTube rendezvous with Dr. Shepard?
(Photos by Kevin Parry/The Paley Center for Media)