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Q&A With Sarah Silverman

The comic talks about her health, her career, and her role in "Wreck-It Ralph."
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

A comedian, writer, actress, singer and musician, Sarah Kate Silverman often tackles controversial topics such as politics, racism, and sexism. She began her career with Saturday Night Live, where she worked as a writer and performer. But her career really began to take off when she created The Sarah Silverman Program, which ran on Comedy Central from 2007 to 2010.   Silverman's concert film, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic, based on her one-woman show of the same name, was released in 2005. Since then she has appeared in a wide range of venues, including The Simpsons, The Good Wife, Take This Waltz, and stand-up shows across the country. She sat down with WebMD the Magazine to talk about her role models, her history of depression, her exercise routine, her ideal day, and just how much she has in common with Vanellope Von Schweetz in Wreck-It Ralph, due out this month.

From your early days on Saturday Night Live to your concert film, Jesus Is Magic, to your hit Comedy Central show, The Sarah Silverman Program, you've been one of the leading female comics of your generation. Who have been some of your greatest role models in comedy?

Steve Martin. I worshiped Steve Martin as a kid. And Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, Joan Rivers. I loved Joan Rivers' book, Enter Talking, as a kid. And now she's more vital than ever. I can't believe the stuff she gets away with on Fashion Police!

You're voicing the 9-year-old video game character Vanellope Von Schweetz in the Disney movie Wreck-It Ralph. Is she much like you as a kid?

Precocious-wise? Oh yeah. She's this 9-year-old girl living in a video game that won't let her participate, and all she wants to do is be able to race. But she's got this glitch, and I think it's kind of parallel to Ralph's [voiced by John C. Reilly] own story. His character is the bad guy, but he just wants to participate and win a medal and get love. We both find that our biggest shames become our greatest assets, and I think that's true in life. I found that even with my own self, the things I thought would be my greatest shame-filled secrets really informed the things that I found my strength in later. Like being a bed-wetter. (Silverman's book, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee, was a New York Times bestseller in 2010.) I've learned the value of being honest and using the things I once felt shame in as a story.

You've talked publicly about having had depression and going through therapy in your teens. How do you handle it now?

It's just a constant struggle. Probably more than half of all therapists are cuckoo, but if you can find the right one for you, it can really be a lifesaver. I think the difference from being miserable to finding happiness is just a matter of degrees, of change in perspective. If you live your life defining yourself by what other people think of you, or what you think other people might think, it's a form of self-torture. Hey, we could all be brains in jars!

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