Comedian Sarah Silverman revealed that she was once fired from a movie over a controversial sketch from her 2007 TV show that had her appear in blackface.
The 48-year-old comedian appeared on “The Bill Simmons Podcast” for a discussion about her career and the ever-increasing “canceled” culture that’s seen past behavior topple famous celebrities and their reputations.
The often outspoken stand-up revealed that she didn’t argue when she was fired from a recent film role the night before shooting began after an old image of her in blackface surfaced. The image was from a sketch she performed on “The Sarah Silverman Program” several years ago.
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“I recently was going to do a movie, a sweet part, then at 11 p.m. the night before they fired me because they saw a picture of me in blackface from that episode. I didn’t fight it,” Silverman said (via The Hollywood Reporter), noting that she’s no longer that kind of comic. “They hired someone else, who is wonderful, but who has never stuck their neck out. It was so disheartening. It just made me real, real sad, because I really kind of devoted my life to making it right.”
The star went on to discuss the culture of holding present-day celebrities accountable for the personas they adopted in the past. She slammed these impromptu public shaming campaigns, likening them to “righteousness porn.”
“I think it’s really scary and it’s a very odd thing that it’s invaded the left primarily and the right will mimic it,” she explained.
She continued: “It’s like if you’re not on board, if you say the wrong thing, if you had a tweet once… everyone is, like, throwing the first stone. It’s so odd. It’s a perversion… It’s really, ‘Look how righteous I am and now I’m going to press refresh all day long to see how many likes I get in my righteousness.”
“… It’s invaded the left primarily and the right will mimic it.”
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Silverman frequently discusses her old material and how she would never make the same kind of jokes today that she did when she was just starting out — including the blackface sketch for her TV series.
“It’s OK to go, ‘Wow, look at this back then. That was so f—ed up looking at it in the light of today of what we know,’ but to hold that person accountable if they’ve changed with the times, like for me … I held myself accountable. I can’t erase that I did that, but I can only be changed forever and do what I can to make it right for the rest of my life,”
Her comments echo those that she previously made in 2018 in an interview with GQ where she addressed the sketch directly.
“Comedy by nature is not at all evergreen. So if you’re doing it right, you look back at your old stuff and you’re horrified,” she said. “I don’t stand by the blackface sketch. I’m horrified by it, and I can’t erase it. I can only be changed by it and move on.”
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While Silverman was discussing people who have been ridiculed for past comments or jokes, she’s no stranger to the “canceled” culture. She’s previously spoken out in support of comedians (and friends) Louis C.K., Aziz Ansari and Al Franken, all of whom were put under a negative public spotlight over allegations of sexual misconduct.