Sarah explains convention flap to NY Times

This is yesterday’s New York Times article containing their interview with Sarah about the aftermath of her words Monday night at the Democratic National Convention.

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Sarah Silverman has delivered many memorable lines in her career, but for now, she is perhaps most closely associated with these words she spoke on stage at the Democratic National Convention on Monday night: “Can I just say, to the Bernie or Bust people: You’re being ridiculous.”

During the primary season, Ms. Silverman, the outspoken, Emmy Awardwinning comedian and star of films like “I Smile Back,” had been an enthusiastic advocate for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. “This past year, I’ve been feeling the Bern,” she said from the stage, adding: “Relax, I put some cream on it.” She went on to express support for Hillary Clinton, calling for harmony within her party. “I will vote for Hillary with gusto, as I continue to be inspired and moved to action by the ideals set forth by Bernie, who will never stop fighting for us.”

But many delegates were in no laughing mood, and some who backed Mr. Sanders booed and jeered the convention speakers throughout the afternoon and evening. When Ms. Silverman and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota came out that night to introduce a musical performance by Paul Simon, the crowd began to grow restless and break into chants of “Bernie!” Neither Mr. Franken’s counter­chant (“Hillary!”) nor Ms. Silverman’s (“Unity!”) could quell the protests, so Ms. Silverman followed with her now­famous rebuke, which elicited applause at the Wells Fargo Center (as well as passionate tweets, both pro and con, from home viewers.)

Speaking by telephone from New Hampshire on Tuesday, Ms. Silverman talked about her convention experience and her thoughts about Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

How were you invited to participate in the convention?

Jane Sanders emailed me directly, and also the D.N.C. reached out to my publicist. I thought: Yeah. One thing they don’t do right at these conventions is their language isn’t accessible to everybody. Most people who vote don’t know what Citizens United means, or what “oligarchy” means. It’s important to talk in plain English. Part of Trump’s success is he talks in simple language and he just says things like, “Everything’s going to be great” and “We’re going to be great” and “It’s all going to be great.” That’s what a lot of politicians do. They speak in vague terms so that they can get the mass appeal.

Did you see your speech as an attempt to soothe supporters of Mr. Sanders who might still have raw feelings from the primaries?

There’s a lot of heartbreak in it. But the truth of the matter is, it’s so simple. Look, Bernie ran as a Democrat, so as to not split the vote. I voted for Ralph Nader when Gore quote­unquote lost to Bush. He didn’t want to do that. The Bernie or Bust people, the people who are like, Bernie or nothing, I don’t know what their longterm plan is or what their perfect scenario could possibly be. I couldn’t love Bernie more, and to help him at this point is to make sure he has an ally in office. People who change the world aren’t always the president. I don’t think he needs to be president, and I can’t wait to see what Obama does out of office. This movement has never been something that he planned on ending with the election. And I’m absolutely voting for Hillary. You’d be crazy not to.

Knowing how much booing and raucousness there had in those first hours of the convention, how did you feel about having to go out and face that crowd?

I focused on the audience at home, which is usually not what I like to do. But the loudest voice doesn’t mean that it’s the right voice or the majority voice at all. It was almost like the Red Sox and the Yankees — there wasn’t a common sense to it. I understand the passion behind Bernie. No one’s more passionate than me. I just don’t see it as a defeat that he doesn’t get to be president. He’s so effective anyway.

And in the moment that you addressed the Bernie or Bust people —

I wasn’t going say the “ridiculous” thing. They told us to stretch, and I just saw these people going, “Boo! Bernie!” Whatever. When you’re a comic and you do material that you mean in one way and people take it in another — like years ago, I would do a lot of racial stuff, and I meant it in a very bleeding­heart liberal way, ultimately. By being the idiot. There were people who would take that literally, and we would call those mouth­full­of­blood laughs. They’re the laughs you don’t want. And those people cheering for Bernie when he came out — the whole place was so inspired, the whole room was amazing. But that little section of quote­unquote Bernie Bros or whatever, it’s the fans you don’t want. The fundamentalists of any group, including fans of Bernie or fans of Hillary or fans of anyone are a bummer. So that’s just a given. It’s not that big a deal.

Did you feel like you were addressing them as a comedian would knock down a heckler?

No, no — it didn’t feel like heckles. It was such chaos. You can’t hear, really, anything that’s going on, at all. It just is a really loud white noise. It’s too much to take in or hear any individual voices. It wasn’t a heckler return. It was something that’s been burbling in me.

Was there anything you wanted to do in your speech that the D.N.C. wouldn’t allow?

At the very beginning, when Al said, “I’m Al Franken and this past year I’ve been hashtag­I’m With Her,” and I was going to say, “And I’m Sarah Silverman, and this past year I’ve been with the possibly agnostic Jew.” Because you know the Right is going to use these emails to try to separate them. It’s what they want so badly. I just felt like, let the comedian defuse it and just address the elephant in the room. But they were like, no. And they are right. They’re right. But I get so indignant. At least I’m aware, and awareness brings change so maybe I’ll be less obnoxious.

What kind of feedback did you get in the immediate aftermath, coming off the stage?

I have not been on Twitter or social media yet. I will absolutely Google myself. I’ve been nonstop and I’m sick and I’m weak and I’m visiting my parents. So mostly I’ve had a ton of feedback from my friends and family, from emails and texts. It’s been very positive, but they’re all people who love me, so I don’t know. The people from the D.N.C. were very happy.

If people who still support Mr. Sanders say that they feel you’ve sold them out somehow, how would you feel?

That’s their opinion. I learned the hard way, through comedy, to defend what you’re putting out there is silly. Once you put it out there, it’s for other people to experience and you can’t control it. I thought a lot about it and it seems so clear to me that it’s the right thing to do. If they love Bernie so much, why are they disregarding his wishes? He clearly is backing Hillary. Any backlash that I’m a sellout, that’s theirs to have and hold. It has nothing to do with me. If you don’t get Zen about it, you could really go crazy. My mom would always watch MSNBC and get so riled up. I would always tell her, “Mom, sometimes you have to change the channel. Watch a ‘Bones’ or a ‘Law & Order’ or something.”

 

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2 Responses to Sarah explains convention flap to NY Times

  1. Kathy Sparks says:

    Thank you Sarah, for your entertaining spot at the DNC Monday. Even in the midst of chaos you brought needed humor. I am a Bernie delegate who “bridged over” to Hillary easily (unlike some of the others). I believe the Democrats have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to quality candidates. You make me smile, and for that I am eternally grateful!

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