Sarah Silverman jumps the rails

Sarah Silverman, every Jewish boy’s dream girl, has a new series premiering on Hulu, “I love you, America.” It started on October 12, and, according to the Guardian, is a kind of Clintonian “listening tour,” in which she meets and interacts with Americans of all stripes—including Trump supporters. (Silverman’s a diehard Democrat who initially supported Bernie Sanders before Clinton became the candidate). As the Guardian notes:

[Silverman] out to prove that patriotism transcends partisanship. The show, which premieres on 12 October, is being billed as a “social-politics sandwich”, stacked with the meaty perspectives of Americans across the ideological spectrum. As Silverman explained recently, it’s not quite sketch comedy, not quite standup, and not quite a talkshow.

The brief description, as well as the video below, doesn’t really get me excited:

Instead, it’s a kind of comic cross-country pilgrimage, reveling in awkward and often obstinate encounters between people who see eye-to-eye on practically nothing. In one episode, Silverman, who is Jewish, will dine with a family who have never met a Jew. In another, she’ll host Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the Westboro Baptist church. The comic’s inclination to engage with those who disagree with and even offend her materialized in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. As her sister, Susan, told the New York Times: “She was sobbing, beside herself, like her guts were coming out, but in that conversation, she said we have to start listening to each other and can’t go on like this in our own echo chambers.” Silverman, generally sarcastic and idiosyncratic, seems ennobled by the country’s intense polarization, too. “You’ve never changed someone’s mind by arguing,” she added.

The intent of the show sounds fine, but knowing Silverman she’ll turn it into a non-enlightening and not-so-funny comedy routine.  The show’s “anthem”, described and shown below, puts her a bit over the line in her approbation of identity politics (even though she says she decries them):

I Love You, America comes with an official hymn, too, released on Monday ahead of the show’s premiere. In it, Silverman’s sings the country’s praises and its pitfalls, offering something of a mission statement for her new project. “I love you America, from sea to shining sea, from the east coast to the west coast, and whatever’s in between,” she sings in top-to-bottom denim, parroting the “coastal elite” persona by which many entertainment figures are characterized.

After listing all the ethnicities and religions she loves, Silverman pauses for some introspection: “Wait a minute, what am I doing? I’m listing kinds of people. I’m categorizing human beings and putting them into little individual boxes. Whether I mean it or not, I’m part of the problem.”

Yes, Ms. Silverman checks her privilege, and does so below in a particularly cringworthy way:

Well, I didn’t find that very funny or intriguing, and I don’t watch Hulu anyway. I’m hoping the show is better than this prelude. If anybody’s watched the beginning of the series, weigh in below.

h/t: Heather

56 Comments

  1. Merilee
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    Pretty lame for Sarah.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I saw her attempting to explain this show on Bill Maher’s show. I think she doing some kind of self therapeutic show. She is treating the subject as it would be like on Sesame Street and not funny.

  3. LJM
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I think she’s one of the best comics working. Since her sensibilities work for me, I think the show is pretty fantastic. The segments where she visits people she disagrees with are, for me, sincere and effective.

    But comedy is highly subjective. There’s no such thing as an objectively funny comedian.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      I liked it too. I saw an episode where she wrote a country song.

  4. Marc Aresteanu
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Feminism kills comedy.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      So in your mind it’s not possible to be funny without denigrating women in some way? FFS. Grow up.

      Besides, I’ve seen some pretty good routines parodying sexist, misogynistic men.

      • Posted November 23, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        I´m with Heather.
        Whitney Cummings would “kill” Marc…

      • Posted November 23, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

        Is all comedy that fails to denigrate women automatically feminist? Personally I would say not. I would say that the comedy has to have an element of making a point about the patriarchy to be feminist.

        Having said that, it’s plainly nonsense to say that feminism kills comedy.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted November 23, 2017 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

          I would say “not” as well.

    • Filippo
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

      Does “masculinism” kill comedy?

      (I note that the Spell-checker-in-the-Sky doesn’t acknowledge the word “masculinism.”)

  5. Historian
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Episodes 1 and 4 are available on youtube.

    I watched episode 1 and liked it. I think Sarah tried sincerely to understand people she knew little about and who knew little about her, i.e., a liberal Jew. She visited a Trump family in Louisiana and found that they were nice people that understood little about politics. They voted for Trump because he promised change, although they were not very articulate in expressing the change they hoped for. One of the family members indicated that so far Trump has disappointed him.

    She also interviewed a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

    • Posted November 23, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      Watched episode one. Not bad. Not quite Louis Theroux. Too homely and superficial. I prefer more edgy, intense, serious.

  6. Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Last I heard of her she was railing against ‘Nazi’ graffiti that turned out to be markers left so utility workers knew where to dig.

    • marvol19
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      She asked what it was, presuming it was a swastika.
      She found out what it actually was and tweeted that within a few hours. Get off your high and incorrect horse.

  7. jaxkayaker
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I’m watching it. It’s had funny moments. I think her heart is in the right place, but you’ve got to use your head, too. I know many like to use the guideline that “minds are like parachutes: they only functions when open”, but that can be taken too far. You don’t want a parachute so open it’s like Swiss cheese.

    • jaxkayaker
      Posted November 23, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

      And, Jerry, Sarah Silverman is also a dream girl to some goyim, including me. 🙂

      • Jeff Rankin
        Posted November 23, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

        For sure – funny, smart, beautiful – what’s not to like?

      • Posted November 23, 2017 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

        Yes, and to Dan Dennett, who follows her on Twitter. I thought Sam Harris did, too, but I didn’t see her on his small list of followers.

        I think you have to have Ashkenazi genes to fully understand the appeal of this woman to Jewish men. But I have no time to write an essay on that. 🙂

        • Filippo
          Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

          Would one have to have Sephardic genes to have a crush (as I did) on Eydie Gormé? 😉

        • Filippo
          Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

          Would one have to have Sephardic genes to have a crush (as I did) on Eydie Gormé? 😉

  8. Jeff Rankin
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve loved Sarah for years. She’s smart, much too smart to have fallen for the regressive/identity politics stuff to the extent that she has. But she’s in the entertainment business, lives in LA, and a gal’s gotta make a living.

    Haven’t seen the show yet, might check it out.

  9. GBJames
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I just signed up for a free trial month of Hulu in order to watch The Handmaiden’s Tale. I’m going to take a look at Sarah’s show.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted November 23, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      The Handmaid’s Tale was really good but horribly depressing.

      • GBJames
        Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Yes. I finally just read the book. Until recently I was under the misunderstanding that it was set in medieval times, or maybe in Viking Iceland or something. Duh.

        I didn’t want to watch the series until I read the original story. The book was unnerving. The series so far is quite good although I’m struggling (as I always do) with the differences between books and the movies/series that are derived. I have to remind myself that this is not a new thing. Mozart did the same.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

          It’s read as part of many Canadian literature curriculums here so I was exposed to it and had a copy but never read it – a friend gave me her copy from a course she was taking. I really like Margaret Atwood’s writing though and have enjoyed her work, including her poetry, which can be really unnerving at times; I never forgot This is a Photograph of Me

          It was taken some time ago.
          At first it seems to be
          a smeared
          print: blurred lines and grey flecks
          blended with the paper;

          then, as you scan
          it, you see in the left-hand corner
          a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree
          (balsam or spruce) emerging
          and, to the right, halfway up
          what ought to be a gentle
          slope, a small frame house.

          In the background there is a lake,
          and beyond that, some low hills.

          (The photograph was taken
          the day after I drowned.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

          I am in the lake, in the center
          of the picture, just under the surface.

          It is difficult to say where
          precisely, or to say
          how large or small I am:
          the effect of water
          on light is a distortion

          but if you look long enough,
          eventually
          you will be able to see me.)

          • darrelle
            Posted November 27, 2017 at 10:23 am | Permalink

            I can understand why you’ve never forgotten that.

            It so often seems that pain of some sort is the muse behind so much of the art that touches people deeply.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    … every Jewish boy’s dream girl …

    Hey, you don’t have that market cornered; plenty of us goyish boys been mackin’ after Ms. Silverman from the get-go, too.

  11. Posted November 23, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    Sarah Silverman is why the Hot/Crazy Matrix was developed.

    Very hot, very funny, scary crazy.

    She was essentially playing herself in SCHOOL OF ROCK.

  12. Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    If done right, this sort of thing can be intensely valuable, I think. But I also fear it could go completely the other way.

  13. docbill1351
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I watched part of it and it was totally awful. “Cringeworthy” is the best description. The discussions she conducts are totally superficial.

    I never figured out what she was trying to do.

  14. BobTerrace
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Silverman was never this Jewish boy’s dream. If the show is anything like the horrible theme song, then I certainly wont be watching (I don’t subscribe to Hulu anyway).

  15. nicky
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    “..every Jewish boy’s dream girl,” I do not get that, isn’t she any boy’s dreamgirl?
    And no, I did not find it really toe-cringing, but then, maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention somewhere.

  16. Don Hubbard
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    I liked what I’ve seen. I think she a great comedian. I also think the premis of the show iron point. We need to start talking to the other side. Politics is the art of compromise. The hard lines we draw are what ripe the country apart.

  17. Posted November 23, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Did she say that the Grand Canyon is America’s pussy? Ho ho ho — by which I mean, not funny. Not clever. Her singing isn’t too good either.

  18. Posted November 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I love Sarah Silverman but this show is definitely not her best work. My take on it is that she’s seriously attempting to bridge the divide between Trump voters and the rest of us. Visiting red state families has been done several times already. Nothing much happens in these meetings as people don’t tend to get serious in such one-on-one meetings. They only go to prove that we can all laugh at the same jokes. If anything, they tend to highlight the ignorance and lack of critical thinking skills of these people. After all, people that have never met a Jewish person should simply get out more.

  19. Posted November 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Ewww that’s awful and not funny at all I’ve never found her particularly funny.

  20. Hemidactylus
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Well there is a tendency to shoehorn people into categories. Somewhat apropos given your trip to India, Indian Americans had a frickin’ cartoon character as an almost solitary cultural reference point boxed in for the rest of us, ironically voiced by a white guy.

    This film was eye opening:

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Problem_with_Apu

    So whatever the prevailing attitude here toward identity, appropriation, privilege and all the other stuff, it is IMO instructive to step back and reflect on intercultural or interethnic sensitivities regarding what is appropriate. Not sure Silverman will be doing *that*.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted November 23, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      ‘Indian Americans’

      Oh, right. I was thinking ‘American Indians’ for a while, till I suddenly realised what was meant.

      That geographically incompetent doofus Columbus has a lot to answer for.

      cr

    • josh
      Posted November 23, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      That film sounds unbearable. The sort of thing that can only hammer it’s thesis home by ignoring all context and counterexamples. The Simpsons is a satire on American small town life and society generally. Every character is a subject of mockery, but Apu, relative to the rest of the town, is portrayed as brave, attractive, smart, hard-working, and adapted to American life while retaining elements of his home culture. He’s voiced by a white man who does dozens of voices on the show, which itself features hundreds of voices, most of which are exaggerated and funny. Nonetheless, his accent, while strong, is not a subject of special derision and he in fact shows a better command of English than many other characters. I get the feeling this is just the director using someone else’s success as a vehicle for his own attention.

      • Hemidactylus
        Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:21 pm | Permalink

        Have you watched the film? Or are you framing your response as a defensive Simpsons fan dismissive of criticism coming from someone, Hari Kondabolu, alongside Others with a legitimate stake in the characterization of Apu? In an interview Kal Penn related his casting in Van Wilder as Taj Mahal. He also got cast as Evil Brown Terrorist in 24. He at least got to make fun of that casting as Kumar in one of those movies.

        The upshot of the Problem With Apu film was that representation of South Asians in media has improved. For instance Aziz Ansari played something of a jackass character on Parks and Recreation yet ethnicity wasn’t what made him a jackass.

        • Hemidactylus
          Posted November 23, 2017 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

          Or even better, Parminder Nagra in ER.

        • josh
          Posted November 29, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

          This is late, so my apologies for that, but I happened to come across this comment and wanted to respond: I haven’t watched the film, which is why I said what it sounds like from reviews and descriptions. As I understand it a significant part of the film is about Kondabolu’s quest to hector Hank Azaria. I don’t see any indication in what you’ve said that my assessment was wrong.

          It’s a stretch to say that random Indian-Americans have a “stake” in a supporting character on a TV show. Most of us can tell the difference between a cartoon character and the variety of Indian people out in the real world. Moreover, Kal Penn has been cast as a heroic pot-head lead, a doctor, a generic bad guy, and what I assume is Van Wilder’s nerdy and/or party-hard friend. Not sure what conclusions we are supposed to draw from that. (Just think about the number of white guys cast as generic henchmen and gang members!) We see more Indian-descended people in media now than we used to, concurrent with their growth as a segment of the population. That’s all to the good. But it doesn’t somehow make Apu “a problem”.

          Apu isn’t a jackass because of his ethnicity on the Simpsons either. (And Aziz Ansari guest-voiced his second-generation nephew on
          an episode.) Have you actually watched The Simpsons?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted November 24, 2017 at 12:20 am | Permalink

        josh, I’d agree with your characterisation of Apu. He’s quite possibly the most sympathetic character in the Simpsons.

        The complaints sound more like they’re based on the rarity of Indians on TV such that Apu enjoys some relative prominence. Along with the usual cultural-appropriation whine from the cultural offence industry.

        Hey, I’m English. I’m outraged, oppressed and offended by the portrayal of Englishmen by Hollywood. How dare they misrepresent my culture. They must stop it at once! (And when they do, I’ll whine about arrogant ‘muricans who think they’re the only English-speaking people in the world, see if I don’t).

        cr

        • GBJames
          Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

          I’ve never gotten over the disrespectful treatment of Americans at the end of The Meaning of Life.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

            Englishmen too, I note.

            Call that disrespectful? As my contribution to transAtlantic amity and rapprochement let me offer Malcolm Tucker (who is Scottish) –

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwGZinTeodc

            cr

        • Hemidactylus
          Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

          There was that horrible Jaguar commercial that implied Brits are best suited to play the villian. And the unsympathetic portrayal of the Green Dragoon in Mel Gibson’s The Patriot, which as “historic” fiction attempted also to capture the Swamp Fox, perhaps poorly.

          And there’s Mr Bean, but that’s actually on you guys. Yet he was only one of many British characters in the ‘merkin collective conscious and I doubt many would look to him as representative of the whole.

        • Hemidactylus
          Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          And I think most would agree U-571 (the movie) was an unforgivable cultural affront toward the British. Now take that feeling of resentment and let it brew and steep and you get the taste of sympathy for how members of other cultures might feel for what they perceive as an affront.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

            I prefer not to let my feelings of resentment brew. It doesn’t do me any good and certainly isn’t going to impress anyone else. I was being facetious of course.

            Rather than complaining about who voiced Apu (which is really irrelevant unless his accent was grossly wrong) it would be more productive to regard Apu as a positive step and call for more ethnic characters. IMO.

            cr

  21. Posted November 23, 2017 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The American panto of this series trailer holds no attraction. Lyrics only work for those stuck in a particular socio political paradigm.

    Would be worth watching if she was red pilled by the end.

  22. Posted November 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    The joke is the title; how can anyone really love America? Or even better, if anyone ever says they love America, they are lying. Because there are parts that they irrationally hate. And unless Oxford has pulled a fast one on me, Sarah points it out with one title phrase.

  23. bundorgarden
    Posted November 23, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Nauseating.

  24. Posted November 23, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    From the post and having seen Silverman on comedy shows . Yes, she knows what we all need do,…talk to each other. Not easy. But, America is great and most of us share underlying values of fairness, mutual respect, and desire for harmony.
    She is on the right path, but will not reach the good end. It is up to all of us to drop our partisan stands and agree to discuss with those who are equally opposed.

  25. Mike
    Posted November 25, 2017 at 8:05 am | Permalink

    This has gotta be one sad day in America when people rely on one of the worst comidians in the world to help find there political ideology… Sarah needs to stick with her sucky comedic skits on stage..


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