Q&A: Sarah Silverman on her new comedy tour, upcoming special
The funniest jokes in Sarah Silverman’s current stand-up show are almost certainly not printable in a family newspaper.
As for the name of her tour?
“I mean, I think it is,” says one of the busiest women in comedy, who this winter alone has juggled — among other things — a run of guest-hosting stints on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”; her popular weekly “The Sarah Silverman Podcast”; and her first roadshow in six years, titled “Grow Some Lips.”
“’Cause it’s interpretative, you know? It’s, like, whatever it means to you. Lips. They’re on our face. And other places,” she continues, clearing her throat. “They’re on our face, et al.”
In a recent phone interview with The Charlotte Observer, the 52-year-old comedian-actress-writer-producer talked about her new tour and the special it will yield. The conversation has been abbreviated, and edited for clarity.
Q. Do you agonize over the name of a tour, or is it just you’re trying to come up with something clever, and when you think of something clever, you go with it?
A: Yeah. I didn’t have a name for it, and I thought this would be funny, and it’s kind of in the show; it’s about words and language and stuff. I don’t know that it will be the name of the special, once I shoot it. But yeah, it’s just a fun tour name. I’m trying not to be too precious about anything.
Q. Well, so you’ve done a dozen dates already on the tour so far. How’s it been going?
A: I’m in my groove, although I’m in the middle of a week off between shows. So I’m like, ‘Oh. Gotta get back into it soon.’ But yeah, it’s been really fun. ...
I shoot the special the last two days of March in Boston (at The Wilbur Theatre), ’cause that’s about as close to my hometown (Manchester, New Hampshire, about 50 miles north) as I’ll probably get, in terms of a big theater. Between now and then I need all the practice I can get. Because this is the first time that I’ve done that kind of riskier version of like: All right, I gotta figure it out on the road. It’s new. So, it’s been exciting. I had to develop it at, like, the gate at Southwest, or on planes, or in cars, and not in my own time as much. And that pressure has been really cool. It’s been more seat-of-my-pants-ish.
I mean, it’s definitely a solid show. I’m almost ready to shoot. But I never feel totally ready. I always want to keep honing it, forever. But you can’t. So at some point I shoot it, and then I have to be done with it.
Q. Is there an extra level of anxiety for you when you’re shooting a special?
A: I mean, when you’re finally shooting, it’s so important to get in the right head space, because you want it to be more excitement than anxiety. Anxiety is just telling yourself horror stories of what the future may hold, and how things may go bad. That’s not really helpful when you’re in the moment.
And shooting a special is interesting. You know how on “Breaking Bad” he calls himself Heisenberg? Well, that’s a principle. Heisenberg principle. I’m such a nerd. The Heisenberg principle basically says that you can’t capture what something is when it’s not being observed, because just by being the observer you change the thing. I always think about that when I’m shooting a special. You want it to be exactly how it would be when you’re just doing it live. Because you are just doing it live. But just the fact that cameras are there changes some kind of chemistry in me; I can only attempt to try to shed that awareness, and really just be in the moment with the audience, and let the cameras capture that. But the fact that they’re there will always kind of be in the back of your head.
Q. I wanted to ask you about aging, which is something you’ve mused on and poked fun at throughout your career. You’ve now had a couple years to get used to being in your 50s. Do you spend much time thinking about your age?
A: I mean, on and off, but I really haven’t been hung up on it. Maybe if I was less busy I’d have more time to. The times where I slip into a downward spiral about that stuff are when I have free time. And I do like just sitting and thinking, so it’s not like I just want to keep myself busy to not really think about the big things. But I really would rather spend that time figuring out ways to love it. Because it is what it is. You can’t go, “Oh, I hate aging,” and then be able to do something about it. You can shoot (expletive) into your face or whatever, but it doesn’t mean you’re not 52.
Also, no matter how much you hate your age, you’re the youngest you are ever going to be again, so you better (expletive) love it. I mean, my brain works, my body works, I’m the smartest I’ve ever been, I’m the wisest I’ve ever been. My boyfriend thinks I’m hot naked. I just want to keep it that way as long as possible. And appreciate it as long as possible.
I don’t have the same powers I had. My powers have shifted. The power I had as a hot 20-something — you know, it was a real power. But it’s, like, a dumb power. And as that shifts, you have no choice but to find out how to get really into these other kinds of strengths that you get with age. If you just think of the physical, you’re really cutting yourself short.
But it is terrifying, and I think as a woman it’s extra-terrifying. It can, if you allow it to, be like a really slow-moving horror movie.
Q. So then, I don’t know, would you say 10 or 15 years ago you were worried about how you’d fit into the industry in your 50s, and that now that you’ve gotten here, you’re like, “I shouldn’t have been so worried”?
A: Listen, I worry and have anxiety, but for some reason — and I really think this is a gift — I never think about the future. I only think about way in the future, honestly. I just save my money so that I can afford to be elderly and have a nurse at home. But in terms of my career, I never think, "Where will I be in five years? Where will I be in 10 years?" Even when I was young, I never thought about it.
I will say, I don’t think I ever thought I’d be this busy now. I remember Joan Rivers, her saying she didn’t really find herself in stand-up until her 70s. And I love that. That just gives me this tent pole to look forward to; to be able to feel like I’m not even close to hitting my stride; to always still be aspiring and changing and wanting to always do stand-up.
By the way, this interview — I’m sorry, I’m not being very funny at all. But the show is funny.
Who: Sarah Silverman
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena
When: 8 p.m. May 5