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When I decided to start a comedy interview podcast in early 2019, there was only one comedian I wanted to have on as my first guest.
The previous fall, I was granted the opportunity to interview Sarah Silverman in front of a live audience as part of the Paley Center for Media’s annual TV preview series in Beverly Hills. Until we spoke backstage for a few moments before the event, I had never met Silverman in person, but was immediately taken by how charming she was.
Perhaps she was trying to disarm me before I started asking her questions about her Hulu series I Love You, America, which was about to return for its second season. The crowd of fans probably expected a light-hearted conversation about the show, but I knew there were some touchy subjects I wanted to raise.
What followed was one of the most engaging and rewarding conversations I have ever conducted during my then three years at The Daily Beast. The most dramatic moment occurred when I asked Silverman to explain why she had decided to use her show as a platform to share complicated feelings surrounding her friend and fellow comedian Louis C.K. after he admitted to sexual misconduct against several younger female comics.
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“I will say—and I hope this is OK to say—that after I did that [monologue], he called me,” Silverman said. “And he said it really helped one of his daughters to understand. She showed it to him and she said, ‘I can love you even though you did bad things.’ And we cried. It was a small silver lining in a very bleak story.”
That was something Silverman had never talked about publicly before and here she was sharing with an audience of fans as part of the promotional tour for her late-night talk show. I wanted to have more conversations like this one with comedians and I wanted people to hear them.
Four months later, as we were preparing to tape a pilot episode for what would become The Last Laugh podcast, I got word that Hulu was canceling Silverman’s show after barely more than a year and only 21 episodes. Even though the podcast didn’t yet exist, she was gracious enough to come into the studio and talk with me for over an hour about what happened with Hulu and so much more, including what she called the “bullshit” allegations against another friend of hers, Senator Al Franken.
Seventy episodes later, after deep conversations with Sacha Baron Cohen, Mindy Kaling, Judd Apatow and so many others, this first episode remains one of my absolute favorites. And I can say for sure that The Last Laugh would not exist without Sarah Silverman.
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