Sarah Silverman recently made news by shutting down the idea that P.C. college kids are “killing" comedy, and last night she addressed another contentious issue: The role of women in the historically male-dominated field.
Soon-to-be "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah recently came under fire for suggesting that women are “more powerful” than men in comedy, citing huge female comics like Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as evidence that comedy was no longer the "boys' club" many believe it to be (despite the fact that photo-shoots like this exist outside the realm of “Mad Men” parody).
Last night at a Toronto International Film Festival Q&A promoting her new drama “I Smile Back," Sarah Silverman was asked about the notion that her raunchier stand-up routines are considered more surprising coming out of a woman’s mouth. “I think at maybe at one time it was true, I think that when that come out it may have been true, I think it’s very much different now,” Silverman responded.
"We live in such a different landscape in terms of women and comedy,” she continued. "Women run comedy. I always get that question of, like, ‘is it hard being in such a boys' club?’ And I say, well the only remnant of that boys' club is that question everybody asks. Because comedy’s run by women. It’s all Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Chelsea Handler and Whitney Cummings and Chelsea Peretti and Tig Notaro, Jen Kirkman, Natasha Leggero. No, it’s a very different world.”
Recently, Silverman explains that she played a festival in Montreal recently where she was the only female headliner. When someone asked her about the lack of women on the lineup, she recalls responding was: “They’re busy. I’m sure plenty of them were asked. They’re really busy.”
She also said she wasn't bothered by the recent Vanity Fair spread that features the ten male “titans of late-night,” suggesting that women might be less drawn to the late-night hosting gig than men are. “I was just like, I know I’m supposed to feel something about this, but I know for a fact... somebody put women’s faces on top of those men’s faces, like what if it was these women [comedians], and I was like, well I know for a fact four of these women were asked to host 'The Daily Show,'” she said. "So it may not be as much of a woman’s desire to… when you’re a talk show host, you are in the position where you have to ask favors of people every day. I couldn’t, I’m not comfortable with that at all. I don’t even have a podcast because you have to ask people to be guests….I’m probably the extreme of it, but I would be a terrible talk show host.” (Future TBS late-night host Samantha Bee, we imagine, shares no such hesitation.)
Later in the talk, Silverman re-iterated her earlier remarks about P.C. culture almost verbatim, explaining how she stopped using gay as a pejorative term.
“There are things in ‘Jesus is Magic’ [her 2005 stand-up special] I wouldn’t do today, because in the context of the world as it is now, it would be less absurdist racial jokes that were just being absurd and me being the idiot," she added. "It has less charm in a world where we’re all very aware white cops are killing black teenagers on a daily basis.”
"I Smile Back" premieres at TIFF tonight and goes wide October 23rd.