×

Allison Silverman

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…”

More Scene

  • Sir Elton John, David Furnish. Sir

    New Elton John AIDS Foundation Gala to be Held in the South of France

    Elton John and David Furnish are launching a new gala for the Elton John AIDS Foundation. The two will host the inaugural A Midsummer Party benefit on July 24 in the south of France at the Johnny Pigozzi’s private estate, Villa Dorane, in Cap d’Antibes. A cocktail reception will be followed by dinner, a live [...]

  • Dwayne Johnson Idris Elba

    Dwayne Johnson: Idris Elba Nixed 'Black James Bond' Joke in 'Hobbs & Shaw'

    In the “Fast & Furious Presents Hobbs & Shaw,” the movie’s villain Brixton, played by Idris Elba, spreads his arms out wide and declares “I’m black Superman.” It turns out that might not have been the original line. Dwayne Johnson tells Variety that Elba was first asked to proclaim he’s “black James Bond,” but the [...]

  • Matteo BocelliAmerican Icon Awards Gala, Inside,

    Top Music Manager Calls Out American Icon Awards for Failing to Pay Talent

    The centuries-old adage no good deed goes unpunished is a common refrain for star music manager Scott Rodger of late. Rodger, who represents Paul McCartney and Andrea Bocelli at Maverick, says his client Matteo Bocelli, the son of the opera star, was stiffed out of promised expense reimbursement by the American Icon Awards. The event, [...]

  • Mary Bailey Steve D'Angelo, Jim Belushi

    Cannabis Industry Tackles Justice Reform With 'Last Prisoner Project'

    Jim Belushi is standing two feet away in the backyard of his spacious Brentwood home, honking a harp like he’s a Blues Brother back in sweet home Chicago accompanied by noted reggae band Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany and Kyle Ahern, who provide a 12-bar shuffle. There’s the sweet smell of skunk — and success — hanging [...]

  • Dwayne Wade holds up the legend

    Dwyane Wade, Megan Rapinoe Win Big at 2019 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards

    The 2019 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards was filled with incredible athletes, inspiring moments and — of course — a massive amount of slime. “I love the kids. I love the slime. I loved the games. I love seeing celebrities and athletes like become kids again. And it’s like my favorite thing,” Michael Strahan told [...]

  • Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani

    Dave Bautista Talks Representation in Hollywood and Defying Stereotypes with 'Stuber'

    Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani make an unlikely duo in “Stuber,” an R-rated comedy about a police officer and his Uber driver. But the two connected over the rare chance to star in the film as actors of Asian descent (Baustia is half-Filipino and Nanjiani is Pakistani). “I’ve been stereotyped for a couple different reasons [...]

  • Skin

    How Jamie Bell Transformed Into a Neo-Nazi for 'Skin'

    Anyone who still associates British actor Jamie Bell with his breakout role as a young boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer will quickly forget all about “Billy Elliot” after seeing “Skin,” which screened at ArcLight Hollywood on Thursday night. “I was shocked,” the film’s writer-director, Guy Nattiv, told Variety of his leading man’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content