In “School of Rock,” Sarah Silverman, 32, plays Patty, the high-strung housemate whose persistent demands for rent drive slacker Dewey (Jack Black) to desperate lengths to bring home a paycheck. Off-screen, the “Saturday Night Live” and “Greg the Bunny” alum and stand-up comedian isn’t afraid of riling up audiences, either.
Some of her edgier race jokes incited a protest by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA) following a 2001 appearance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.” And even the title of last year’s one-woman show, “Jesus is Magic,” is controversial. EW.com talked to Silverman about her rock & roll fantasy, what really offends her, and why she can’t believe she called Jimmy Kimmel fat.
In “The School of Rock,” you play a bossy girlfriend. What’s the key to playing a bitch?
I don’t know, but I’m so damn good at it. Whenever I see actors who play a–holes in interviews, they always say they find a way to have empathy for their characters. Not me. My character in “The School of Rock” is just a plain old douche bag. Can I say that?
You’ve got some great dialogue. How’d you convince screenwriter Mike White to give you those?
He has a real casting couch system. How do you think Jack got all those great lines? From working on his craft?
What’s your rock & roll fantasy?
Spooning with Elvis Costello.
Thanks to your one woman show, “Jesus is Magic,” people have discovered that you can sing. When will we hear more?
I’ll be singing the entire Tenacious D CD in my shower through February. It’s been a really long run, about three months straight and counting. I’m also going to be shooting a movie version of “Jesus is Magic” this year.
You’ve managed to find the humor in touchy topics like rape and the Holocaust. What offends you?
Nothing really offends me, but I would say that mean humor, stuff that hurts people or makes them feel bad, that’s not my cup of tea. It’s a fine line.
You’re a whole lot better looking than most comedians. Is being an attractive woman in this industry a blessing or a curse?
It hasn’t kept me from playing a–holes. Plus I get tons of sex! On a serious note, I’m very, very beautiful.
You’re a regular contributor to Comedy Central’s prank-phoning puppet show “Crank Yankers.” Did you make any requests as to what your puppet would look like?
No. In an early call I named her Hadassah just because the [prank victim] asked my name and that’s what came out, so I think that informed the look a bit. She has a Jewess-y look.
You’re known for hosting a Sunday night poker game for your friends in Los Angeles, many of whom are also comedians. What’s your secret for bluffing?
You have to change up the bluff because otherwise you start to have a tell. A common tell with anyone who has a great hand is that suddenly their full attention is on the game. Even if they’re not dealing they start to call the hand: “It’s your bet!” “Raise to you!” As soon as someone is paying more attention to the game then they normally do, I know they have a hand they’re excited about.
You recently signed a development deal with HBO. Do they have any idea what they’re in for?
HBO is the one place that does know. It’s so great to be able to totally go with my impulses and instincts. Networks think they want me, but they really don’t.
You’ve been a stand-up comic, writer, and actress for over a decade, and yet you still get tagged as “up and coming.” When do you think we’ll all finally figure out you’ve arrived?
I have no problem with “up and coming.” People who remember me from when I started think I’m older than I am. I was just really young when I did “SNL.”
At a Friars Club Roast, you joked that Jimmy Kimmel was “fat, and he has no charisma.” Now that you’re dating, have you had to amend that description?
It’s weird looking back at that. I didn’t know him at all back then. I can’t believe I called him fat. Knowing him now it’s funny, because he has such a thin personality.