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Sarah Silverman: Crude Comedian With a Certain Feminist Flair

5 years ago
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In case any of you ladies missed it, I thought I'd point you toward Terry Gross' insightful -- and delightful -- interview with the polarizing comedian Sarah Silverman. The comedian was on Gross' NPR talk show, "Fresh Air," last week to discuss her new memoir, "The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee." Gross aptly described Silverman -- and her crude brand of comedy -- when she introduced her as a woman whose "comedy may seem offensive to Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, gay people, you name it, but that's because she's in persona as someone who is clueless, uninformed but certain in her beliefs."

Yes, Silverman is quite a polarizing figure. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. Her comedy is certainly not for everyone. In the words of a recent New York Magazine profile, "she talks dirty and makes jokes that are provocative, or offensive, depending on whether you find her funny or not." (Most of her material is unsuitable for print, but surely you are familiar with the verb "to Google.")

My adoration for Silverman was confirmed when, in her interview with Gross, the discussion moved from her bedwetting trauma to her sexual awakening and, eventually, to the prospect of having a child. One segment of the interview was, I thought, particularly illuminating, not just because I learned more about the woman behind the persona but because she expressed a fresh and candid tone of feminism. What really brought a smile to my face was when Gross asked whether Silverman would ever want kids.

Silverman replied:
I want to do it when it's kind of all I want, and I don't -- you know, I think that I could have a baby or have children and still have a rich life filled with other things, but I really want to do it when it's kind of the most important thing to me.

And also . . . I'm not going to have a baby. You know, I happen to think that there are already tons of perfectly good babies out there already born, and I don't necessarily need to see a little me and, like, do it right this time. I'm already trying to do it right this time with me. You know, so I can see myself adopting. I'm not in a rush to do it. I'm 39, I know, but when I think about having kids of my own, I think, you know what, the older I am, as long as I can lift them and be alive for the big parts, I probably will be, have more patience and be able to be a better parent at young-grandparent age.
Naysayers will interpret that passage as selfishness on Silverman's part, but I disagree. She truthfully articulated her understanding that having a child is an important step in her life, but it is a choice she balances against all the other opportunities in front of her. It seems so clear to me that Silverman has freed herself of the societal expectations and norms associated with motherhood. How refreshing is that?

Now, mind you, this is an issue not normally associated with Silverman. Sure, some of her jokes test my limits. And I'm positive she has her fair share of feminist critics. But Silverman deserves praise for holding her own in the world of entertainment -- not an easy feat, especially on the comedy circuit, a domain with some gender-equality issues.

As Anne Fenn said in her review of "The Bedwetter": "Silverman is a comedic daredevil, driven by the rush of pushing boundaries, which by necessity includes the occasional crash. For her bravery alone, I salute her."

So, ladies of WomanUp, I can't imagine that you remain indifferent toward Silverman. Love her or hate her, she's a force to be reckoned with. What are your thoughts concerning her unconventional take on motherhood? Or her brand of comedy in general?
Filed Under: Woman Up
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