Is Sarah Silverman Nice?

The stand-up comic, YouTube phenom and armer of the elderly isn’t so scary after all

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Sarah Silverman is an intimidating figure. She seems sweet, but she can turn sour on a dime. Which is why I was somewhat relieved I’d be interviewing the 42-year-old comedian via email (normally not desirable) rather than phone. Not that I should have worried. Silverman wrote: “I’m a harmless silly goofball! — you idiot.”

Her Stand-Up

Silverman’s tour is a work in progress, but she’s almost ready to shoot a new special. “These shows are gonna be key to that,” Silverman says. Fans at her Warner Theatre show Thursday can expect the subject matter to include “religion, science, social politics, introspection and the lack thereof — and lots of silly [stuff] in between.”

Jash

This month, Silverman launched Jash, a streaming video site funded by YouTube, in partnership with comedians Michael Cera, Reggie Watts, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. “I like having a place where I can think some dumb thing up and three days later be shooting it,” she says. (She’s posted two videos so far, assuring everyone she’s not a racist in one, and offering bizarre “wisdom” in the other.) Could Jash host a reunion of her Comedy Central show, “The Sarah Silverman Program”? “We’d love to do something like that,” she says. “We miss each other so much!”

Using Comedy for Good

In a YouTube video called “Let My People Vote 2012: Get Nana a Gun,” Silverman tried to influence a voting bloc some said was being suppressed by lawmakers ahead of the 2012 presidential election. “As a citizen and a human I would feel like a [jerk] to not use any reach I have for [stuff] that matters,” she says. “As long as I can make it funny.”

Branching Out in Film

Silverman took on two roles in 2012 films that went against her crass, absurdist image. She played a recovering alcoholic in the indie drama “Take This Waltz” and a tough-but-cute video game character in Disney’s animated “Wreck-It Ralph.” “People like to call things departures, but to me it’s all the same,” she says. “I think that’s why comics can do drama but dramatic actors can only sometimes do comedy. Dramatic actors who think they have to put some kind of comedy sauce in their ‘comedy acting’ are brutal to watch.”

Warner Theatre, 513 13th St. NW; Thu., 8 p.m., $39.50-$59.50; 202-783-4000. (Metro Center)
Rudi Greenberg is Express' Weekend Pass editor and comedy columnist.
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Rudi Greenberg | April 25, 2013