Comedian Sarah Silverman — known for racist bits and language that were a regular part of her act — is rejecting her controversial, adversarial past to embrace empathy. In this profile of Silverman at GQ, Drew Magary attempts to cleanse his own “calcified soul” with her new brand of compassion.
I am not as willing as Silverman to forgive Middle America for Trump. There are limits to my empathy. I am on the more shrill end of the liberal spectrum: the guy who bitches every time The New York Times ventures out into Trump country to talk to REAL FOLK, the way Silverman occasionally does on her own show. I fume that it’s always incumbent on blue-state America to reach out to red-state America, and not the other way around. I delight in conservatives showing their asses online. I have given up on trying to politely convince the most conservative members of my own family that they are wrong, and try to steer the conversation toward, like, clouds instead. I am, in other words, hardened, perhaps even more so than the rednecks Silverman is aiming to convert.
Silverman can see this, and what she desperately wants people to know is that finding out you’re wrong about something won’t kill you.
When I first started comedy, my male comic friends would say, ‘You have to focus on making the men laugh. The women only laugh if their date laughs.’ It’s something I actually accepted as an 18-year-old comedian. It took a while for me to say, That’s fucking insane. We’re all complicit in this fucked-up society; it’s just that men actually, truly benefited from it and women didn’t.”