Funny, fearless and hard-core were adjectives used throughout her career to describe Sarah Silverman. The actress and bawdy comedienne, in fact, built a career tackling controversial subjects head-on. While most comics only scratched the surface of the joke, Silverman dove into the murky depths of race, religion and sex and with her blasé, seemingly prejudiced outbursts, effectively deflating taboos. However, taking on these issues was not without its controversies. Silverman was fired from her regular gig on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 1975- ), and in 2001, while appearing on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC, 1993-2009), she uttered a racial slur against Asian-Americans and was immediately castigated for it. Through it all, however, Silverman rarely checked her sharp tongue or curbed her cutting-edge comedy, making even the lewdest male comics blush on occasion - including on-and-off boyfriend, comedian-host, Jimmy Kimmel, to whom she dedicated the Internet video sensation, "I'm F*cking Matt Damon."However, Silverman also had a more serious side, as shown in her political activism on behalf of the Democratic party, and on work such as the series "I Love You, America" (Hulu 2017- ), in which she tried to find common ground between political parties in the wake of Donald Trump's divisive political rise.
Born Dec. 1, 1970, Silverman grew up one of four daughters in a middle-class home in Bedford, NH. As a young girl, she was always interested in comedy, even writing the phrase "I Love Steve Martin" on her bedroom ceiling instead of posting the requisite Shawn Cassidy or Erik Estrada pictures of the day. At age 17, Silverman performed her first stand-up act at Stitches in Boston, MA. After dropping out of New York University, she graduated to open mic appearances in Manhattan, which led to regular comedy gigs and tours around the country. While on the road, she was spotted by scouts for "Saturday Night Live," and at only age 22, found herself writing and performing on the legendary sketch show. Silverman first appeared as a Not Ready for Prime Time Player in 1993, but immediately landed herself in hot water with the NBC censors. One of her first bits was a commentary on the regular spot, "Weekend Update," where she joked about her desire to have an abortion, only to discover that she was only thirsty. More trouble ensued for Silverman behind the scenes, and the nonconformist soon found herself out of a job.
She returned to performing stand-up, while guest appearing on "Seinfeld" (NBC, 1989-1998) in the 1997 episode, "Money;" on two 1996 episodes of "Star Trek: Voyager;" and on a 1997 episode of Tea Leoni's sitcom, "The Naked Truth" (NBC, 1995-98). She enjoyed a recurring stint as writer Wendy Traston on "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO, 1992-98) during the 1996-98 seasons. Silverman also made her feature film debut in "Who's the Caboose?" (1997), a mockumentary satirizing the television industry's most competitive time: pilot season. The actress had a few small roles in bigger Hollywood fare, including the Farrelly Brothers' hit "There's Something About Mary" (1998), Warren Beatty's political satire "Bulworth" (1998), and the romantic comedy "The Bachelor" (1999), starring Chris O'Donnell and Renée Zellweger - none of which upped her Hollywood profile as much as her own comedy was about to do.
In 2001, Silverman attracted unwanted media scrutiny with her "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" appearance by uttering the slur "chink" in her act which, not surprisingly, created a relentless firestorm spearheaded by the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans. Though Silverman never officially apologized, she did write a heartfelt letter to the organization. Though the controversy faded, it left Silverman determined more than ever not to temper her comedic instincts, no matter how politically incorrect it might seem to others. Meanwhile, Silverman landed a regular gig as Alison Kaiser on the Fox show, "Greg the Bunny" (2001-02) and continued to land parts in major films including "Evolution" (2001), starring David Duchovny and Julianne Moore, and "Heartbreakers" (2001) with Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Also that year, Silverman participated in Comedy Central's Friar's Club Roast of Hugh Hefner, where she first met host Jimmy Kimmel and zinged him onstage with, "He's fat and has no charisma. Watch your back Danny Aiello!" Soon after, Kimmel signed Silverman to join the cast of improvisational crank callers in "Crank Yankers" (Comedy Central, 2002-05; MTV2, 2005-07). Several years later, the pair's working relationship developed into a long-term romance that seemed uncharacteristically sweet, given both comic's propensity for cynicism. In contrast, the onscreen Silverman played an uber-bitchy girlfriend in "School of Rock" (2003), the Jack Black vehicle about an unemployed rocker who impersonates a grade school substitute teacher and creates a supergroup of preteen rockers.
Though she appeared many times on screens both big and small, Silverman always returned to her first love: stand-up comedy. She inked a deal with HBO to write, produce and star in her own comedy special airing in late 2003, but unfortunately the deal was shelved. She turned instead to do business with Comedy Central for a 2005 sketch show. Meanwhile, Silverman was one of dozens of comedians vying to tell the dirtiest version of an old Vaudeville joke in "The Aristocrats" (2005), a documentary produced by Penn Jillette, the gregarious half of comedy team, Penn & Teller. Though the joke contained no real punch line, the point was to tell the most egregious version to unsettle new initiates. Silverman, of course, pushed the enveloped by pretending the joke was not a joke at all - resulting in one of the more disturbing versions in the film.
After she competed in a couple of tournaments on "Celebrity Poker Showdown" (Bravo, 2003-06), Silverman continued to land roles on popular TV series, appearing in an episode of "Entourage" (HBO, 2004-11), as well as voicing characters on the animated series, "Drawn Together" (Comedy Central, 2004-07) and "American Dad" (Fox, 2004- ). She finished a busy 2005 headlining her own comedy concert feature film, "Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic," in which she unleashed some of her edgiest stand-up routines, skewered the controversy that her "Conan" appearance had fanned, and included several humorous musical interludes in which she demonstrated both a clever talent for creating scatological lyrics, as well as an impressive singing voice. The same year, she had a brief turn as a TV producer with the big screen adaptation of the Broadway sensation, "Rent" (2005).
In 2007, Silverman launched her own sitcom, "The Sarah Silverman Program" (Comedy Central, 2007-10) which was a fictionalized take on her own life, co-starring her sister Laura and alternative comedy mainstays likes Jay Johnston and Brian Posehn. Later in the year she hosted the MTV Music Awards - during which she famously dissed Britney Spears' mothering skills - and received glowing reviews for her role in comedian Jeff Garlin's debut feature, "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With," playing his love interest. That fall, the comedian was stunning in an ad campaign for GAP, striking a pose that was surely meant to mock models, though the irony may have been lost on audiences, as she unwittingly looked every bit the part.
In early 2008, Silverman made perhaps, her biggest mainstream splash yet when she premiered a little present she had "whipped together" for her boyfriend in honor of the fifth anniversary of "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Almost as quickly as the hilarious "I'm F*cking Matt Damon" - a kind of musical "Dear John" video for Kimmel - aired on his show, it went viral on the Internet within 24 hours and became one of the most viewed videos in YouTube history. With Matt Damon break-dancing and singing in the third person - all the while comically rubbing salt in Kimmel's perceived wounds - the video was a homerun for Silverman. Sadly, only months later, she and Kimmel parted ways after five years together - but not before Kimmel returned the video slight with his own music video kiss-off, "I'm F*cking Ben Affleck," which was equally, if not more, popular. Not letting a sentimental thing like a broken love affair stop her, Silverman was nominated for an Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy for her third appearance as Detective Adrian Monk's (Tony Shalhoub) biggest (and scariest) fan, Marci Maven, on the popular USA Network comedy, "Monk" (2002-09). Meanwhile, she received another Emmy nod, this time for her work on "The Sarah Silverman Show," which earned her a nomination in the Lead Actress - comedy series category in 2009.
Silverman next appeared in a key role in Sarah Polley's indie romantic comedy-drama "Take This Waltz" (2011), followed by a cameo appearance in "The Muppets" (2011). That same year, Sarah and her sister Laura reteamed with Loren Bouchard to provide the voices of Ollie and Andy, annoying twin classmates of Louise (Kristen Schaal) on the animated comedy "Bob's Burgers" (Fox 2011- ). Silverman's next major film role came as the chirpy video-game character Vanellope, sidekick to the title character in the animated hit "Wreck-It Ralph" (2012). She also began a recurring role as herself in Louis C.K.'s dark comedy "Louie" (FX 2010-15). In Seth MacFarlane's western parody "Eight Million Ways to Die in the West" (2014), Silverman played Ruth, the town prostitute newly married to god-fearing Edward (Giovanni Ribisi). Following a dramatic turn in the Showtime series "Masters of Sex" (2013- ), Silverman returned to "Saturday Night Live" for her first hosting gig in the fall of 2014. Her next film, "I Smile Back" (2015) was a dark character drama that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, for which she garnered positive reviews. Silverman next appeared in the indie comedy-drama "Ashby" (2015), metafictional comedy "Punching Henry" (2016) and The Lonely Island mockumentary "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" (2016). Silverman also appeared in Colin Trevorrow's poorly-received drama "The Book of Henry" (2017) and in 1970s'set sports drama "Battle of the Sexes" (2017). Following Donald Trump's 2016 election, Silverman, a longtime Democratic activist, began a documentary series called "I Love You, America" (Hulu 2017- ) in which she met with fellow Americans across the political spectrum in an attempt to find common ground. She next reprised her voice role as Venellope Von Schweetz in "Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet" (2018).
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Performed her first stand-up gig at Stitches, on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston
Regular cast member and writer on "Saturday Night Live" (NBC)
Featured performer in the HBO sketch comedy show "Mr. Show with Bob and David"
Had a recurring role as writer Wendy Traston on "The Larry Sanders Show" (HBO)
Made her film debut in "Who's the Caboose"
Acted in a couple of episodes of "Seinfeld," (NBC) as Kramer's girlfriend
Appeared in Warren Beatty's political satire "Bullworth"
Had a supporting role as a friend of Mary's in Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly's comedy smash "There's Something About Mary"
Appeared in "The Bachelor," starring Chris O'Donnell and Renee Zelwegger
Featured as herself on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" (NBC), controversy erupted after using the racist slur 'chink' in a comedy routine on the July 11, 2001 episode
Voiced Hadassah Guberman in comedy central's "Crank Yankers"
Cast as Alison Kaiser on the short-lived Fox Comedy, "Greg the Bunny"
Cast as the annoying girlfriend of Jack Black's roommate in "The School of Rock"
Toured the country in her one-woman show, "Jesus is Magic"
Appeared in the film version of her one woman show, "Jesus is Magic"
Played Alexi Darling in "Rent," the film version of the Pulitzer and Tony award winning musical
Cast in Jeff Garlin's feature writing and directing debut "I Want Someone to Eat Cheese with"
Received an Emmy nomination for guest starring on the USA series, "Monk"
Hosted the MTV Movie Awards (June)
Stared as a fictionalized version of herself in "The Sarah Silverman Program" on Comedy Central; also produced; earned an Emmy nomination in 2009 for Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Earned a Grammy nomination for the spoken word album, <i>The Bedwetter</i>
Lent her voice to "Bob's Burgers"
Co-starred in animated hit "Wreck-It Ralph" with John C. Reilly
Co-starred in Seth MacFarlane's western comedy "Eight Million Ways to Die in the West"
Hosted "Saturday Night Live" for the first time
Had a recurring guest role on "Masters of Sex"
Received strong reviews for her starring role in indie drama "I Smile Back"
Appeared in the Lonely Island comedy "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping"
Appeared in "The Book of Henry"
Played Gladys Heldman in tennis biopic "Battle of the Sexes"
Returned for "Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2"