Sarah Silverman Reveals How Trump Changed Her Comedy

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Comedian Sarah Silverman is opening up about why she abandoned her eponymous, exaggerated sketch comedy character amid former President Donald Trump’s political rise.

While appearing on the latest episode of David Duchovny’s Fail Better podcast, Silverman said, “It wasn’t really a conscious like, ‘Hey, that stuff doesn’t work, so I’m gonna go a different way.’ I think I just very naturally started changing.”

Silverman pointed out that in her first comedy special, 2005’s Jesus Is Magic, she was “totally doing a character, and that character carried on into my Comedy Central show,” The Sarah Silverman Program.

“The Sarah Silverman Program [character] is just an arrogant ignorant, you know?” the comedian continued. “And so having Trump win—not that it carried through all the way up until Trump was elected—but especially when Trump was elected and how the world changed in that way, that character was no longer really amusing to me, because he embodies that completely.”

Duchovny then asked her, “Did you feel, was that just organic to you on the inside, or did you feel that in relationship to an audience, that shift?”

“No, no. It wasn’t like, wow, the audience isn’t laughing at my racist jokes anymore,” Silverman joked in response. “[Comedy] is art, you know? And just like a painting on a wall in a museum, if you go and see it every single day, it changes because your life changes, your experiences change, and the world around us completely changes.”

“And so what you’re seeing is gonna be inferred with a whole new set of perspective,” she continued. “And you know, I learned this pretty early on, that comedy really dies in the second guessing of your audience [and] that you really have to stay with what is funny to you.”

“In some ways,” Silverman reflected, much of her older comedy “doesn’t hold up” anymore “because it comes from white privilege.”

Still, Silverman hasn’t totally backed away from politics in her comedy. Last year, she took aim at Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whom she called “the world’s oldest nepo baby.” “If he gets 24 percent in the election, it would be the best showing for a third party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt,” Silverman said on The Daily Show. “And because RFK is anti-vaxx, it would be the best showing for polio since Franklin Roosevelt.”

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