After the sexual harassment allegations against Louis C.K. surfaced in the news in November 2017, Sarah Silverman used her Hulu show “I Love You America, With Sarah Silverman” to address the strikes against the comedian and man she had called her friend since she was 19 years old. Now that he has dipped his toe back into the standup comedy world, less than a year later, Silverman is still struggling with how she feels about what she has learned.
“Things are very black and white if it isn’t someone you love on either side, on any part of it,” Silverman said at the Paley Fall TV Preview for the second season of her show Friday. “My heart goes out to him [but] then I have to stop and say, ‘You know what? I think I’m too close to this to be objective.’ Sometimes when you know someone you don’t always know more, you know less.”
Using the comparison of being too close to a Seurat painting that all you see are dots and not the image, Silverman also noted that he “wronged people” and that she understands the backlash against his set, but she admitted that she hasn’t talked to him about it.
When asked how she feels about him returning to standup the way she did, she pontificated for a moment about how a comedian “can’t just practice in front of a mirror” and that even if he had tried to play a much smaller venue, it would have made headlines. Ultimately, she said she probably shouldn’t comment — “not because I’m guarded, but I just don’t think it’s for me to say. I can’t be objective. I can’t give you a good answer that you’ll be happy with or that I’ll be happy with because the whole thing makes me sad.”
Silverman shared that after her first season episode aired, though, she and C.K. did speak about it.
“He called me and he said it really helped one of his daughters to understand. She showed it to him and said, ‘I can love you even though you did bad things,'” Silverman revealed.
Silverman is no stranger to engaging in controversial discussions. The second season premiere of “I Love You America” alone saw her sit down with the co-founders and a few members of an “anti-choice” group called “Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust,” as well as with NFL players-turned-social justice leaders Malcolm Jenkins and Doug Baldwin.
Of the “Survivors” group, Silverman said that although on the issue of abortion they “completely disagree,” it meant a lot to her that they were willing to sit down and talk. And on the broader scale, she does find similarities.
“They believe what they believe completely. When they protest they’re not getting anything from it. It’s what they truly believe with their whole heart, and I understand that because I have the opposite opinion, but I also believe it with my whole heart and I understand wanting people to believe what you believe,” Silverman said.
She also admitted to finding some common emotional ground with the survivalists who were freaked out during Barack Obama’s presidency, saying that when Trump got elected she remembered feeling like “I need to learn how to shoot a gun. I need to stockpile canned goods and water. Now I understand the emotional feeling that that fear is.”
Silverman is also known for engaging on Twitter with those who have diametrically opposing political views to her own, and she made headlines this week for David Weissman’s op-ed that she actually changed his mind about Donald Trump.
“I think he was disarmed by kindness, which is super easy. And he wanted information. I give him the credit. I think so many of us shield ourselves from new information because god forbid it will change our core values and we’ve spent our whole lives building that,” Silverman said.
Personally, Silverman feels that she needs to learn how “to learn how to understand people who think differently” but what she cares about most is “what is true,” especially now that “we’re living in a time where it’s so hard to know what is true.”
While Silverman’s show certainly does not shy away from talking about political topics or figures, she also says she believes “there isn’t anything you can make, art-wise [or] writing-wise, that isn’t political” today, simply because of the time in which it is being made.
“Life isn’t evergreen. You have to change with the times or you get old. If you’re not growing or changing, you’re an old person who’s just complaining,” she says.