Sarah Silverman: I Didn't Learn Human Etiquette Until Dating Jimmy Kimmel

June 21st, 2015 7:54 AM

In an interview with director Judd Apatow excerpted in the latest edition of the women's magazine Elle, actress and comedienne Sarah Silverman shocked few by suggesting she didn't learn any manners until she dated Jimmy Kimmel, now the late-night talk show host on ABC. 

Sarah: My dad taught me swears when I was a toddler, and I saw, at a really early age, that if I shocked people, I would get approval, and it made my arms itch with glee. I got addicted to it. It became this source of power in a totally powerless life.

Judd: Did your dad get a kick out of it?

Sarah: He thought it was funny to teach his three-year-old daughter swears. His dream was to be a writer—and he wrote all these books that he self-published when he retired—but he owned a store called Crazy Sophie's Factory Outlet. And he did his own commercials. I have a bunch of them—they're amazing. He has such a thick New England accent. You can't understand a thing he's saying. He's like, "When I see the prices at the mall, I just want to vomit! Hey, I'm Crazy Donald!" He was Crazy Donald, like Crazy Eddie, only in New Hampshire.

I never consciously set out to talk about taboos or anything like that. That was just what the household I grew up in was like. There wasn't a sense of, like, "Maybe let's not say that in front of the kids." It was all out there, you know, and I didn't know better. I mean, honestly, a lot of the human etiquette I learned in life I learned from, like, thank-you notes and dating Jimmy Kimmel. I have great parents, and they both taught me great things, but my formative years were boundaryless.

Judd: But was there a core of morality to it?

Sarah: Oh yeah, definitely. We had no religion at all, but we were Jews in New Hampshire, and my sister—who is now a rabbi—said it best: We were, like, the only Jews in Bedford, New Hampshire, as well as the only Democrats, so we just kind of associated those two things together. My dad raised us to believe that paying taxes is an honor.

The concept of "honor" emerged in Silverman's thought when it came to paying taxes. Then they discussed how Sarah's rabbi sister may not really believe in God and all that Heaven business:

Judd: How does your sister talk about Judaism?

Sarah: It's funny because sometimes I'll get cunty with her, and I'll be like, "Oh, so you believe there's a man in the sky?" And she'll go, "Well, I like to live my life as though there is one." And I'm just like, "Oh, you're beautiful."

Judd: I wish I could convince myself to believe the way your sister believes because I'm so exhausted from not believing.

Sarah: I actually don't think that she believes in God, necessarily. I think she just loves the ritual of religion and finding meaning in every little thing. She loves living her life that way.

Judd: She doesn't believe in a God that is actively involved in people's lives, making choices?

Sarah: She doesn't believe that God is rooting for the Giants and not the Patriots. She's not fucking ridiculous.

Praying for your hometown team to win -- at least only because it's your hometown -- isn't the highest of spiritual goals. (Ahem, it can happen in Packer-backer households, but it helps to pray for the individuals, and not for your own thrills.) Roseanne Barr also talked to Apatow about growing up Jewish: 

Roseanne: I used to play Barbies with my Mormon neighbor friend; it was always, "Oh, we're going to go on a date. Ken's taking us out, and we're going with Ken on a date." And I was like, "We're parachuting behind enemy lines to save the Jews." That's how I played Barbies. I was told when I was a girl that every Jewish woman has to have five children to replace three-fifths of our people that were killed. That's how I was raised.

Judd: Wow.

Roseanne: In an apartment building with survivors from concentration camps.

Judd: Parents don't realize that when they teach you about the Holocaust too early, it ruins you for life.

Roseanne: It ruined me for life. I remember the exact moment well—I was, like, three, and they had the TV on, and they were of course enjoying the Eichmann trial. When they weren't talking about Eichmann, they were talking about babies on meat hooks. They used to say it in front of me, and I was like, I don't want to be on this fucking planet. This ain't for me. Fuck it. And I went in the bathroom in my grandma's house. There was this black button on the door, and I turned it. I had to stretch real hard to turn that lock. So then they were all like, "She's locked herself in the bathroom," and then it was, like, all this screaming. The only time they talked to me was to tell me that the Nazis used to shoot little girls right through the head in front of their parents. That's how they talked to me. Other than that, it was like, "Pick that up."

Roseanne also talked about "radical feminism" in her comedy: 

Roseanne: It was almost a year, and then I went down there and did my five minutes. I look back on it now, and I'm like, It was pretty ballsy that I said the things I said. They immediately banned me and said, "Don't ever come back here."

Judd: Do you remember what was in the five minutes?

Roseanne: I made fun of male comics. I was very political.

Judd: Did you talk about being a housewife, also?

Roseanne: No, it was radical feminist politics. When I was little, my mom used to read this book, Fascinating Womanhood. There was a character who would tell you how to get your husband to buy you a blender and shit. And it disgusted me that my mom and her friends were like that, so that's kind of why I became a feminist. Me and my sister were eating eggs one day, and I was like, Fuck—it just came in my head—one of those things that didn't have nothing to do with me. It's like: domestic goddess. And I went, Oh fuck, that's my door. I just tailored it for a while and, you know, they let me [back] on. They liked that act. Because I finally found my voice. I went to every kind of club to work it too. I had to go to, like, the Episcopalian church and jazz clubs and punk clubs and biker bars. I remember performing on a punk stage with no mic in the middle of a mosh pit. My act was called "How to Be a Domestic Goddess."