Sarah Silverman says she stopped doing ‘arrogant ignorant’ because Trump ‘embodies that completely’

Comedian Sarah Silverman said she decided to move away from her “arrogant ignorant” comedy sketch character after former President Trump was elected, saying the character no longer resonated with her because he embodied it “completely.”

Silverman joined David Duchovny for an episode of his podcast “Fail Better,” where she discussed her thinking.

“It wasn’t really a conscious like, ‘Hey, that stuff doesn’t work, so I’m gonna go a different way,’” Silverman said. “I mean, I think I just very naturally started changing.”

Silverman noted that in her 2005 comedy special, “Jesus is Magic,” she was “totally doing a character,” and that character carried into her Comedy Central show, “The Sarah Silverman Program,” which ran from 2007 to 2010. That character, she said, was “an arrogant ignorant.”

“So, having Trump win, not that it carried through 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,” Silverman said.

Duchovny questioned if Silverman retired the character because audiences’ reactions shifted. She said no.

“It wasn’t like, ‘Well, the audience isn’t laughing at my racist jokes anymore,’” she said.

“It is art, you know, it’s just like a painting on a wall in a museum. If you go and see it every singly day, it changes because your life changes, your experience change and the world around us completely changed,” Silverman continued. “And so what you’re seeing is going to be inferred with a whole new set of … perspective.”

Silverman said she learned early in her career that comedy dies when a comedian second-guesses their audience. Comedians must stay true to what is funny to them and over time that changes, she said.

“You know, in some ways, the stuff I did doesn’t hold up because it comes from a white privilege,” she said, noting how much society has changed.

She provided an anecdote about watching Prince win the 1984 American Music Award for best Black artist. She said at the time she didn’t think much of it, but now, she was stunned that it was a separate award. Silverman predicted that one day, society will look back similarly at “Best Actress” and “Best Actor” awards because everyone will see them in a new way that they can’t see right now.

“We don’t know now what we don’t know now,” she said. “That’s part of the reason why I think it’s important to learn from the past and be changed from the past, at a cellular level.”

“But to litigate the past is, to me, a less successful plight because all of us knew just only what we knew up to that point,” Silverman continued. “And even though it’s embarrassing looking back, the only thing really to be embarrassed about is if we don’t change from it.”

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