Comedian Sarah Silverman says she lost film role over blackface incident

August 13, 2019

Liberal comedienne and staunch Trump detractor Sarah Silverman revealed earlier this month that she was fired from a movie over a 2007 sketch from her show that featured Silverman in blackface.

Silverman told the Bill Simmons Podcast that she did not object to the producers’ decision, but she regretted the lost opportunity since she has been trying to “make it right” for years.

“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, according to Breitbart. “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.”

Silverman gets the boot

In the episode, Silverman paints her face black to see whether life is harder for a Jewish person or a black person. Speaking on the Bill Simmons Podcast last week, the comedian said she’s “not that person anymore” but distinguished her use of blackface from that of Virginia Gov, Ralph Northam, who faced calls to resign over resurfaced pictures from the 1980s.

“I’m not that person anymore. But I was doing — I didn’t go to a [censored] Halloween party in the ’80s in blackface,” she said. “I was doing an episode about race. Now I understand it’s never okay, and blah blah blah — not to ‘blah blah blah’ it — so they hired someone else who’s wonderful but who’s never stuck her neck out.”

Silverman said that she “knew there was racism” and that she wanted to “illuminate that in some way in comedy,” but she didn’t know that “cops were killing black people and unarmed black teenagers on the regular.” She was changed “forever” when she became more woke on the topic, but the episode continues to affect her career to this day.

Silverman has expressed regret over the episode in the past. She told GQ last year that the episode was “yucky” and “liberal bubble stuff,” adding that she now realizes she wrongly “thought it was dealing with racism” by using racist tropes. In 2015, she called the sketch her most “regrettable” joke, but qualified that it was “totally racist out of context,” The Guardian reports.

“There’s a still of me on Twitter in blackface and it’s totally out of context and I tweeted it when Twitter was new and the people who followed me watched that show and it was from that show,” she said. “It’s totally racist out of context and I regret that.”

“Cancel culture” causes problems

While Silverman is herself a liberal, she expressed concern to Simmons about the rise of “cancel culture” on the left, which she likened to “righteousness porn.” She said it scares her that public figures can lose their careers and reputations over offensive things they said years ago.

“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,” Silverman said. “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.'”

She went on to explain her view that “comedy is evergreen” and that anyone who’s pushing the envelope will make offensive comments from time to time. Silverman said that there is “so much problematic” material on her old show, The Sarah Silverman Program, by today’s standards, and that leftist “cancel culture” denies artists an opportunity to change.

“It’s OK to go, ‘Wow, look at this back then. That was so f****d 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,” Silverman said. “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.”

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.