Sarah Silverman is headed to the stage.
Well, maybe not Silverman herself, but the story of the comedian is, at least. She gave an update on the musical based on her memoir, “The Bedwetter,” during a chat with Mike Birbiglia for the Tribeca Film Festival on Monday night.
She revealed that the musical, which was first mentioned in 2014, will be announced in two weeks by the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York when it unveils its 2019-2020 slate, and will be playing within the year. She’s working with songwriter Adam Schlesinger on the production, though she will not be starring in it.
“He read the book and he came over and he just said, ‘This is a play! This is a musical!'” Silverman remembered. “‘The first chapter is called “Cursed From the Start.” Cursed From the Start! That’s a line!’”
She added that they’ve teamed with playwright Joshua Harmon on the musical, and that it will focus on the year in which she was 10 years old.
Silverman and Birbiglia touched on a number of other subjects during the talk, including Silverman’s first dramatic lead, 2015’s “I Smile Back.” Silverman talked about the experience of playing an alcoholic, despite the fact that she doesn’t drink and has never struggled with addiction, and then bemoaned the lack of parts for actors who happen to be “Jew-y Jews.”
“Lately, I’ve been like, ‘finally, there’s parts for Jew-y Jews, and they’re not casting any Jews!'” she said. “Then there’s the other part of me that says, ‘Sarah. The meaning of acting is portraying someone you aren’t.’ But then you see the guy with no arm who’s like, ‘I can’t even play the guy with no arm? I’m an actor with no arm!’ And then you go, like, ‘There are Jew-y Jews that can’t not Jew-y Jews.'”
She then, however, provided the other side of the argument. While acknowledging that she’s “experienced an immense amount of white privilege,” she added, “I’ve never had drug addiction or alcoholism and then I learned about it, and in a way, maybe the perspective of that is helpful.”
During the night’s chat, the two also talked about how Silverman’s comedy has changed over the years. She remembered, as one example, that she used to use the phrase “That’s so gay!” in a negative light, and once, when she heard herself defending it, she realized why it was wrong.
Acknowledging that “comedy is absolutely not evergreen,” she looked back on her old specials, including 2005’s “Jesus Is Magic,” which have been criticized in the past.
“I haven’t seen ‘Jesus Is Magic’ in a decade or more, but I can’t imagine — I would call it widely problematic,” she admitted. “But I can only accept myself and know that I grow and change.”
Another thing that Silverman has grown out of? Self-deprecation. She told the Tribeca crowd that she’s “bored” with the practice, saying it’s not “modesty, but self-obsession.”
Someone who helped her shape that view is another famous comedian: Tig Notaro. After making a joke about herself, Silverman remembered Notaro telling her, “don’t talk about my friend that way.” “It changed me,” she said.
While on the subject of Notaro, Silverman recalled a story about the day her mother died. She and Notaro were both on the set of Maria Bamford’s Netflix comedy “Lady Dynamite” when Silverman got the call from her sister that her mother had died.
While Silverman suggested that they at least finish the scene, Notaro “took control” and insisted on driving her home. Notaro, who had just lost her mother only a couple of years prior, said something particularly profound to her on the way home.
“There’s two kinds of people in the world,” Silverman remembered Notaro saying. “People who have lost their moms, and people who have no idea what’s coming.”
Throughout the rest of the conversation, Silverman touched on the president (“Trump is great at is giving [angry people] something to blame, which is others”), if she’d ever run for office (No, “I’ve had too much therapy”) and how she handles her more extensional thoughts.
“If I get overwhelmed,” she said. “the thing that either saves me or kills me is always the same thought, which is ‘nothing matters.’ And when I’m daunted by something, I say ‘nothing matters. We’re on a rock in outer space.’”