She claims comedians who resist changing with the times may just be old

September 16, 2015 10:55 PM


Sarah Silverman rose to fame as a result of boundary-pushing comedy routines that sometimes offended people. And while many comedians have pushed back against political correctness limiting what they say in an effort to be funny, Silverman, 44, took a more measured approach in a Vanity Fair interview, saying she and others in her field could learn something from younger audience members.

“To a degree, everyone’s going to be offended by something, so you can’t just decide on your material based on not offending anyone,” she said in the interview. “But, I do think it’s important, as a comedian, as a human, to change with the times, to change with new information. I think it’s a sign of being old when you’re put off by that.”

Silverman faced criticism in 2001 for using a derogatory term for Asian people while on Late Night With Conan O’Brien. In the interview, she went on to recall that she also once argued in favor of using the word “gay” as a pejorative – “That’s so gay” to mean “That isn’t good” – but has since changed her mind.

“I stopped myself and said, ‘What am I fighting?’ I have become the guy from fifty years ago who says ‘I say colored. I have colored friends!'” Silverman said. “I don’t say that things are ‘gay’ anymore if things are lame. I don’t even think about it. I didn’t take long to get used to it.”

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Previously comedians such as Chris Rock and Bill Maher have condemned politically correct college campuses as being hostile to comedy and bad for intellectual growth. In June, Jerry Seinfeld criticized young people for using words like “sexist” and “racist” without understanding what they really mean.

And while Silverman faults college audiences as being too engrossed with smart phones to connect with comedians performing onstage, she says other comedians might be under-valuing this generation’s opinions.

“I think you have to listen to the college-aged, because they lead the revolution. They’re pretty much always on the right side of history,” she said.

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