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Comedian Sarah Silverman tackles politics, sexuality in campus visit

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Comedian Sarah Silverman answers questions in an interview with The Lantern before her performance Nov. 1 at Mershon Auditorium. Credit: Ryan Robey / For The Lantern

Comedian Sarah Silverman answers questions in an interview with The Lantern before her performance Nov. 1 at Mershon Auditorium.
Credit: Ryan Robey / For The Lantern

Sarah Silverman wanted to get uncomfortable with her audience.

The comedian and actress performed her stand-up at the Mershon Auditorium Friday night in an event sponsored by the Ohio Union Activities Board. Her routine explored a range of topics, from religion to politics to sexuality.

“I try not to describe my humor, because it’s not for me, I just put it out there. I like to do a lot of social and political stuff, but with a lot of d— and vagina jokes, too,” Silverman said in a pre-show interview with The Lantern. 

The comedian went on to talk about performing, saying, “I don’t perform at colleges that often — rarely really — because I’m performing to a sea of iPhones. Kids just don’t give a f—. They lack the theater experience.”

However, Silverman was excited and said she loves the instantaneous reaction from stand-up.

“Everything is immediate, where when you do a TV show, it takes a while, and the editors and directors are in control,” Silverman told The Lantern. “My favorite part in stand-up is connecting with the audience. It’s a show for me, too.”

For anyone looking to get into stand-up comedy, Silverman gave some advice.

“Just don’t worry about getting big. Get stage time, get your 10,000 hours, then think of getting big in New York or LA.”

As for her experience, she said the most valuable things for her career were all the “little victories and big humiliations,” and her mentorship under comedian Garry Shandling.

Silverman kept her word about it being a show for herself and emphasized it in her hour-long act. The show opened with her grabbing an audience member and interviewing him in front of the crowd. She improvised as the student vaguely responded to her questions, and she teased the student of being nervous and sweaty on stage.

The show was focused around love, social issues, family life and religion. Silverman shared embarrassing personal memories with the crowd, saying “I want to get uncomfortable with you.”

When talking about Christianity and how easy it is to be forgiven, she came up with the idea of “Hitler goes to Heaven,” which subsequently spun off to be what she thought would make a great name for a band.

Not stopping there, however, she continued to poke fun at anything and everything, even the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “Make Another Wish,” she explained, would be a more accurate name for the organization, since most kids’ first wish would be that they live.

Silverman showed her range in skill by bouncing back and forth between joking about her insecurities and confidently calling out hecklers, people with weird laughs, or, in one case, someone who she saw on Twitter.

“Come on, you’re four feet away from me, you’re in the front row,” Silverman said to the audience member.

Silverman ended her show by performing a song about divas she wrote on guitar, singing in the voice of an angel and using the vocabulary of a sailor.

The event was free and tickets sold out.

Students in the audience ranged from seasoned fans to those who were simply there to see something new.
Kelly Straniero, a third-year in accounting, attended the show and enjoyed Silverman’s sense of humor.

“I thought she was funny in the way I thought she would be. She has subtle, dirty humor and you laugh because it’s so raunchy,” she said. “It was perfect before going out on a Friday night event.”
Maddie Slutsky, a fourth-year in communication, said Silverman is her favorite comedian.

“It’s really hard to say what my favorite part (of the show) was,” Slutsky said. “I loved it when she interacted with the audience and when she tried new jokes on us.”

OUAB would not disclose any costs of the event.

Halie Williams contributed to this story. 


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