Speaking on the “SmartLess” podcast, hosted by actors Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes, and Will Arnett, Sarah Silverman admitted that she got away with offensive humor because she was a liberal.
Arnett brought up a bit Silverman had once done about getting an AIDS test, in which Silverman joked about having unprotected sex in Hades, adding the number of times she had done so and joking that she did so in equal times from different positions because she was “kinda OCD.”
Silverman said, “There are a lot of problematic things looking back, but such is comedy. It’s not evergreen.”
“Right,” Hayes interjected. “So that’s my thing; it’s like you’ve always been such a — I don’t know — such a f***ing stupid word, ‘edgy.’ It’s always about the messenger of the joke; it’s never really about —so you can say on the Sarah Silverman program, you could do a joke about AIDS like that and people embrace it and laugh because it’s you saying it. So what do you think is the difference between you saying it and somebody else saying it and not getting away with it. Seems like you get away with a lot of stuff because you’re so f***ing funny, but some of it’s pretty dark.”
“I think it’s the intention behind it, like, this is a math term, but it’s kind of like the absolute power of the joke,” Silverman pontificated. “Like, especially back then I always said the opposite of what I thought and that was the joke, kinda. Hopefully the truth transcends that I don’t really feel this way, not to break it down in the least funny possible way, but it is also interesting too, because like, that comedy I did, you’re right, it was like, ‘Oh it’s OK because you know I don’t mean it.’ But then it also is kind of like, ‘We’re liberal, so we can say anything. We can say, you know, the words that are unsayable or whatever. You know I don’t mean it, so I can say it.’ There is kind of a liberal, like, douchiness about it, I think, in retrospect. I mean, I don’t know, it’s a weird balance.”
Arnett said, “I think you’re right; I was thinking about that the other day, which is like, what’s been gone is things have gotten so serious because everybody who is not liberal is so serious and so dark and so real about their negativity or hate or racism, whatever it is, that it’s taken all of that away. You’re like, I don’t even want to joke about a lot of things that are rough or maybe pushing boundaries because you feel like, ‘I don’t want it to be taken the wrong way because there are so many people who mean it.’”
Silverman replied, “Yeah. There’s not enough distance, you know, it’s like so close that people go, ohh.”