Everybody Loves Rape Jokes

by Joe R May 28, 2007
Sarah Silverman's Fame Audit

Name: Sarah Silverman
Age: 36
Occupation: Stand-up comedian; cable TV participant; purveyor of ironic racism
Experience: Since 1994, 50 mostly-brief screen appearances, one stand-up/sketch comedy feature vehicle, and one remarkably filthy retelling of a joke

With her gig as host of the 2007 MTV Movie Awards almost upon us, it's probably time to ask the question: exactly how famous is Sarah Silverman, and has she gotten as famous as she's going to get? Has she reached the absolute apex of her status as America's preferred filthy-mouthed funny lady? It's not like the MTV Movie Awards have ever been anyone's career peak (although, honestly? Jimmy Fallon's career probably didn't soar any higher than his two hosting gigs), but in trying to see exactly where this gig could springboard Silverman to next, we're kind of at a loss.

For one thing: ever sat down and tried to pinpoint the exact moment Sarah Silverman became famous? She has passed through vague familiarity, following the Siobhan Fallon path of minor Saturday Night Live player and Seinfeld guest star. Then there was infamy, after she notoriously used the word "chink" in a joke about racism on Conan O'Brien's show. But even that didn't reach the gaffe level of, say, a Michael Richards, perhaps because her excuse ("It was a joke, morons") actually managed to pass the smell test. But how did Silverman get from occasionally controversial guest on Politically Incorrect to the MTV Movie Awards? We're not sure, but we kind of have a feeling it might have been a result of working spectacularly blue on one of those Friar's Club Roasts. Because it wasn't her role as "Woman On Plane" in What Planet Are You From?. And it wasn't her nuanced turn as "Raving Bitch" in The Way Of The Gun.

No, at some point, Sarah Silverman became famous as your favorite filthy-mouthed, pretty-yet-attainable girl next door. It's nice work if you can get it. It's allowed her to do what she does best in her two highest-profile film appearances: she was singled out for her part in the dirty-joke documentary The Aristocrats, got favorable reviews for her stand-up/sketch film Jesus Is Magic, and even got her own show on Comedy Central, which we are told several people watched. Through it all, she's always seemed smarter than the audience she was being marketed to. Like the Man Show crowd could ever appreciate a rape joke on multiple levels.

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