Do we want to know the ‘real’ Sarah Silverman?
Regular visitors to this blog know that I am looking forward to a life of happily wedded bliss, picking up comedienne Sarah Silverman’s favorite pickles from her favorite deli and also visiting 12 different drug stores until I find the exact brand of toilet paper she prefers for wiping her divine tucus.
That day hasn’t come yet, but I’m a patient man, ask anybody, NOW.
And while I wait, I was thrilled to hear Sarah Silverman’s interview with Terry Gross on Fresh Air yesterday, which you can listen in to here at NPR’s website. Go ahead, wait. I’ll still be here when you’re done.
One thing Gross is really good at with certain personalities is getting beneath their facade, and exposing more of who they really are on a day-to-day, non-performing basis. Check out some of her interviews with Tracy Morgan and Stephen Colbert as examples – these are real people with real feelings, capable of speaking in hushed, indoor voices (OK, maybe not Tracy Morgan), not always living in the skins of their bombastic, somewhat belligerently foolish on-stage personalities. Tracy Morgan started crying on Fresh Air! Stephen Colbert sounded like a nice fellow who might be selling you insurance on Sunday after mass if you’re a Catholic or at the clubhouse after a round of golf.
And that brings us to Terry’s interview with Silverman. Terry sets up the scene for her audience, many of whom may not be all that aware of Silverman, framing her as an ‘act’ – a woman who is an all-too-certain and highly-offensive ignoramus. But she makes it clear that this is not real – it’s an act. At the start of the interview, she still sort of sounds like the Sarah Silverman we know from her show, from ‘The Aristocrats’ and from ‘Jesus is Magic.’ This happens because Terry asks Sarah if she’s “good for the Jews,” and Silverman responds that like ‘Son of Sam’ or serial killer David Berkowitz, she was good for the Jews.
But then Terry starts asking her questions about her memoir, ‘The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee.’ And suddenly she’s not Sarah Silverman of the stage. She’s Sarah Silverman, the girl who was born, given that name, and grew up into the person she really is today. There’s a little bit of uncertainty in her voice that you’re not used to hearing when she tells jokes on TV or on a stage, and certainly that you don’t get from what she tosses up on Twitter.
But really: do you want to know more about the person behind the mask of the act? I’m a little uncomfortable with imagining that Sarah Silverman or Stephen Colbert, these unmistakable personalities, have another personality underneath the one that has made them famous. At some weird level, it’s easier to worship your heroes if you imagine that they’re always heroes, and that the character they portray on stage is who they always are. The more like you your heroes become, the more you wonder about what makes them so heroic. And you don’t want to question their act – what you really want is to imagine that what they’re portraying, what makes you laugh so hard, is real.
Anyways Sarah, don’t worry, it only makes me love you more. Now what brand of TP was I supposed to get you again?