At the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in July, Sarah Silverman joined Minnesota senator and fellow former Saturday Night Live writer and cast member Al Franken at the podium. She had written a short speech about why as a prominent Bernie Sanders supporter, she now was supporting the party's nominee, Hillary Clinton.
Silverman may have seemed like an odd choice for a convention speaker. Her work revels in taboo-breaking humor, including digging into prejudice, religion and sex and body image jokes. On her 2013 album Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles, she wistfully pondered having been a sperm leaving her father's body, finishing the joke by marveling at once being thin enough to fit through the passageway. That's the type of humor fans can expect at her show at the Saenger Theatre Oct. 16, which closes Hell Yes Fest.
Silverman had been invited to speak at the convention by Sanders' wife Jane Sanders and the Democratic party, she told Gambit. At the event, she had to change her speech.
"We had a rehearsal," she says. "I had to cut five minutes to two minutes, which killed me because, of course, to me I am the only one that exists — 'But I have so many important things to say.' But OK, I am a cog in this. They said cut it down to two minutes, and I did.
"I finished speaking, and right off camera, five feet from me, there is this guy shouting 'Stretch! Stretch!'"
As Silverman and Franken ad-libbed, Sanders supporters were restless, not ready to throw their support to Clinton. Silverman ended up moving the convention forward, not with her impassioned political appeal, but with a wag of her finger.
"Can I just say to the 'Bernie or bust' people," she told the crowd, "You are being ridiculous."
The political press talked about the moment. Silverman just laughs about it, noting that one can't always predict what will work.
"It's like my friend Liam Lynch, who is a brilliant musician — his songs, the music he makes, everything he does is so genius. He made a song called 'The United States of Whatever' and it became really big. And he's like, 'Jesus. You work so hard at your craft and your passion, and you make all this art you love, and then you fart in a cup and that's what everybody is drawn to.'"
Silverman's Twitter feed is filled with her election commentary, but she's busy crossing the country for stand-up gigs in October. Stand-up comedy is still her primary focus, but she's done all sorts of comedy, from starring in The Sarah Silverman Program on Comedy Central to roasting James Franco to voicing Simpsons characters and appearing in Seinfeld, The Larry Sanders Show, School of Rock and many other movies. Since publishing her memoir The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee in 2010, she's been tapped to play serious roles. In 2015, she starred as a depressed mother struggling with addiction in the film I Smile Back. She plays a recurring character on Masters of Sex.
Silverman says she was cast in serious roles after she discussed her book on Howard Stern's radio show, but she always has been open to non-comedy roles.
"I don't see why people don't think you can do drama if you haven't done it," she says. "To me, my part in The Aristocrats is a drama. I am playing it serious. As long as you are playing material honestly, it's not like a huge difference."