Sarah Silverman on celebrity drawbacks, sex in your 40s, the joys of therapy


Sarah Silverman is a charming combination of wit, wackiness, and tomboyish beauty. She delivers bawdy one-liners and real-life anecdotes in a trademark nasal tone that’s impossible to forget. In addition to comedy, the 45-year-old has racked up dozens of television and film roles, including the 2015 drama I Smile Back, which garnered her a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. She also writes and produces videos as a member of JASH, a comedy channel on YouTube.

Skyway Theatre

City Pages: You added Minneapolis to your tour but I haven’t seen a title for it yet.

Sarah Silverman: Oh, that’s right! It doesn’t have a title. I didn’t even think about that.

CP: It’s just you.

SS: It didn’t even occur to me. I do standup, but in L.A., you can only do it in pieces. You have to go on the road to really be able to do an hour. It’s the… uh… “Honing My Shit” tour.

CP: Do your jokes revolve around a particular theme?

SS: No. It’s just where I’m at right now. These are all really good questions I should have been asking myself a month ago. I would say it’s a tour of self-discovery. If Britney Spears goes on tour, it’s a very, very honed, rehearsed tour with dancers and sets and lights. When a comic goes on tour — or at least me — you’re honing what you have. The show’s becoming what it is by the end of the tour. Hopefully, by Minneapolis, I’ll have answers to all these questions.

CP: Judging from your Twitter feed, politics seems to be foremost on your mind. When did you initially get involved in politics? Did you have some sort of awakening?

SS: First of all, that’s a very good deduction, though I don’t have any jokes about Bernie, Trump, or Hillary. I grew up in New Hampshire, which is the first stop of every presidential election. My parents were always really active [politically]. They took their role as citizens seriously. My mom was a photographer for the McGovern campaign in ’72. Her jewelry box had no jewelry in it; it was all political buttons. My sister Suzy always says now — there were scarce Jews in the town where we grew up and we had no religion — she thought being Jewish meant being a Democrat, because we were the only of both in our town.

CP: What is the biggest drawback of being a celebrity comedian?

SS: I’m guessing this might be about being a woman as well, but I get really scared around really drunk people. I get grabbed. Big hugs. I get scared when drunk men move my body. People think they know me…which is lovely, but, if somebody saw Nicole Kidman, they’d be like, [whispering] “Oh my god, that’s Nicole Kidman!” With me, it’s like, [yelling] “Sarah!” And I have that panic attack where I don’t know if I know them. I feel like I’m going senile. I have no memory. I smoke pot. I’m like, “Is that a cousin? Is that an old friend from camp?” It’s oftentimes just a stranger. But that’s also what I love, too.

CP: Last fall, you spoke about your history with depression on Fresh Air. What have you found to be effective in managing depression, aside from medication or doing comedy?

SS: Therapy is huge for me. Of course, there are people that go to therapy their whole lives and never look inward. They never change. They just want to talk about how they’re right about everything. To me, it’s so exciting to be a detective of your own life. Just like in the world, awareness brings change. It’s like that in the microcosm of your own self. I love going, “Oh, fuck. Yeah, that’s from that. That’s shitty if I do that.”

It’s funny to me. People go to a therapist and that’s their therapist. They don’t shop around. They’ll go to, like, 15 car lots to see what car they want. But they don’t, like, make three appointments with three different therapists to see which one’s a fit. It’s fucking important!

CP: Have you been with the same therapist for a long time?

SS: I’ve been with him about six years. I couldn’t say enough about him. He’s affected my life, my standup, my perspective. He’s this gentle, lovely man who loves studying human relationships and dynamics. I really enjoy it.

CP: You’re in a relationship with Michael Sheen. How are love and sex different now that you’re in your 40s as opposed to your 20s or 30s?

SS: Oooh…well, you have to stretch before and after. I’m just realizing I’m not giving funny answers. I’m being sincere. Pardon my sincerity. No one’s going to read this and be like, “I’m going to go to this show!” It is funny though because with Michael, there will be stuff from our sex life and I’ll say, “I want to talk about this onstage,” and he’s really cool about it because he respects that it’s what I do. He’s just like, “Go ahead. Nobody would believe this is true.”

CP: I wanted to ask you about a short film you released in April.

SS: Oh, wow!

CP: It seems like your character is a pathological liar. Where did that character come from?

SS: I think her truth changes toward wherever love and attention might come. I didn’t create this character. This is a short film that these brothers wrote. Adam and Aaron Nee. They got it to me through JASH, the website I do. I read it on my phone in an airport, and I was like, “Oh, wow! This character!” That’s all.

CP: The title of the film is You Can Never Really Know Someone. Do you believe that?

SS: No, I don’t. I think there are people in my life I know and I also feel known by certain people in my life, which is one of the loveliest feelings you can have. In relation to this, it’s just where it starts, where you see who she is and then you see this man [played by Sheen] see only what he sees. To see him fall in love with her, and if you only saw that part of her, you would say, “Oh, that’s lovely.” But it’s like a horror movie because you know what’s there. That last beat for me is everything. It’s so funny.

CP: What feels more comfortable for you? Standup or acting?

SS: I love both of them. Standup is kind of who I am. The thing about acting is it’s slow as fuck. When you’re a comic, you can’t even believe how slow it moves. Of course I understand it and that’s how you make it and once you finish it, it’s so fun to see the finished product, but it’s a really, excruciatingly slow process. And the acting part is 1 percent of it. I love it, but it’s a lot of sitting around.

CP: What do you hope to do in the future — in comedy or film?

SS: I just see what comes my way and do whatever looks interesting. I’ve never had any kind of master plan. Just continue being a woman who does odd jobs.


Sarah Silverman

Skyway Theatre

8 p.m. Saturday, June 11

$49.50 - $59.50