Sarah Silverman dropped in as the mid-show guest spot on Real Time with Bill Maher this week to discuss her new Hulu series, and talk a bit about the evolution of comedy and language in light of how society views certain topics. Geography, history, and current events all help to shape how we view words and entertainment throughout the years, she explains. Sometimes this forces us to adapt and leave behind concepts that once seemed common.
That’s where the conversation sort of heads during the latter part of Silverman’s chat with Maher, during which she discusses how some of the people she interviewed had to Google “Jew” because they had never met a Jewish person. She says they didn’t do anything wrong by that, bringing up the term Eskimo and how it is possibly a racial term while telling the host, “I’m trying to be mindful.”
Maher agrees that there are words that comedians used to use 15 years ago that in hindsight look like caveman speak, with Silverman adding that it’ll change even more 10 years from now. It all overlaps with the host’s ongoing battle for free speech and political correctness, with Maher taking exception with the idea that Steve Martin’s famous King Tut performance from SNL could now be considered offensive.
Silverman’s response is really the moment that shines. Where Maher seems to think it ridiculous that folks at Reed College are now offended by a 40-year-old song about a person who has been dead for a few thousand years, Silverman boils it down to how tastes change, saying sometimes comedy has to change with it — while not treating the comedian like that is all they are:
“I don’t have the answer, but I will say a couple things. One. I am trying very hard not to roll my eyes at the youth…at our youth being progressive because they tend to be on the right side of history. Two, I worship Steve Martin, I hold him no account to this, but we also know comedy, what’s great about it and what’s frustrating about it, is that it is not evergreen. There are things I’ve said in my comedy that I’m sure will be held against me that I don’t stand by, that I’m embarrassed by.”
It’s a pretty fresh take on the subject, or at least one that doesn’t get much play when these discussions pop up on this show. Maher’s response is the norm and it is easy to go there, especially when the topic is so outrageous. But Silverman really is onto something here in terms of how there’s growth in comedy and entertainment along with society, while also not condemning what has come before too much. She’s spreading a more open-minded approach and you can’t really complain about that.
(Via Real Time)