I'm sure he does! It's so funny. He's great. He's so brutally honest about himself and others and things. It's fun to watch. It's just really smart and funny. Sometimes comics are smart and sometimes comics are funny, and sometimes they're smart and funny. You know how there are smart comics where you don't really laugh? You just go like “oh yeah, yeah, that's right.” But he's both, which is a very exciting combination.
Where do you place yourself on smart versus funny?
Oh gosh, I don't know. I have a very good perspective, like so many people, on everyone else, but [I'm] pretty blind to my own – [laughs].
It must be pretty cool to be in the role to curate a show of comics that you like.
It'll be pure fun for me. I'll be the standup in between everybody, and I'll kind of measure the amount of time I do by whatever's best for the show and how it's going, whatever time is displaced. I'll be like a professional emcee! That's what they do! Keep the show going, fill in spots. It'll be fun. I get to kind of watch, which is fun. When I close a show or when I do a long set I'm too nervous to watch the acts in front of me. That's why I like to go – I have a show once a month out here at [comedy club] Largo – and I always go second to last, so I can at least relax and watch the person after me. Before it's just, like, too stressful.
You still get nervous before you perform?
I still get nervous. It depends on the crowd and, like, the connection. And also, yeah, I wouldn't be nervous if I was doing the same hour for the past 20 years or something, but that's not very inspiring! I'm nervous because I'm in a state of constant flux with my own act. Just like figuring out who I am and what I'm thinking about and what I'm working on. I'm kind of in a constant transitional state. It keeps me on my toes because I still want to please the audience.
You've kind of become someone younger comics look up to, but your career is sort of based on inappropriate jokes. Is it weird at all to be admired for that?
Well when I started out – and ten years in, when I finally started getting good – people don't come to see you. They're forced to either discover you and realize that they hate you or like you or people walk out. There's an excitement in that, like “I'm going to prove myself.” But then there's a point – which is great – when people come specifically to see you. And then if what you do is surprise or shock, are you giving them what they're expecting by doing that?
There are definitely moments in every comic's career – I think it's healthy – to have a kind of identity crisis. Because you don't want to give the audience just what they expect. Especially if what they're expecting is to be surprised. It becomes a lot of second-guessing. And then what you have to realize is comedy just doesn't thrive in second-guessing. There's nothing funny about second-guessing what the audience might want to see and then trying to do that. Then the realization is just, like, “I have to get back to what I think is funny today” or “who I am now, what is funny to me?” And you hope your audience or a new audience or someone also thinks that's funny.
But you can definitely – if you look at comics in the '80s, they were such personas, such iconic personas. They're still alive now but they still do [in a mock-funny voice] “hickory dickory dock” or whatever. You have a choice of being a caricature of yourself that becomes very dated, and it might be what people came out to see, but it's, to me, the wrong choice. You need to keep moving, like a shark, like anyone else in the world. Grow and change and let your comedy reflect what that is at that time. Oh my god, I'm not being funny in this interview at all! You caught me in a deconstructionist morning.
Yeah, I don't know how we're going to rescue this one.
Oh [bleep]! See that's why I always want to do emails because I can think for a second, but everyone gets so offended! I mean, I love talking to you, hearing your voice, talking in the moment, but if you need a better answer you can email me and then I can think about it for two seconds. But then when I say “how about an email interview?” the article always starts with “she only does interviews by email.” It's because I need to think about [bleep]! Give your thoughtful questions a thoughtful answer. I mean, I understand, talking, there's a back and forth, but I don't know...I'm not so quick like other people. I don't do much crowd work.
As a comedian, people must confront you a lot in public like “Sarah Silverman, say something funny.” What do you do when, like, the barista at Starbucks confronts you like that?