Sarah Silverman (‘I Love You, America’): ‘Mr. Rogers for adults’ and ‘aggressively, dumb, ridiculous, silly comedy’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]

“I wanted to do something that was like Mr. Rogers for adults” says Sarah Silverman about her Hulu variety sketch series “I Love You America.” In our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above), she explains, “I liked the challenge of having hard comedy with heart, care, empathy and compassion. Can those things co-exist? I think that they can. I want to connect with people and be earnest. But we want to sandwich it in a big bready sandwich of aggressively, dumb, ridiculous, silly comedy.’”

In working with Funny or Die, Silverman delivers monologues, travels the country to meet people, performs comedy sketches and interviews people who have experienced change. She reveals, “I wanted to do a show that was about social politics and feelings. And what I’ve learned is that it’s about connecting with people. You certainly don’t change people’s minds by shouting facts and poll numbers at them. The only way people can even get to connecting with someone who thinks differently is through feelings. All of us are that way.”

Dealing with the politics of today, Silverman reflects that “Trump’s strong point is, he takes little spurs of fear, frustration and anger. He takes real feelings and he gives us a place to put it: each other.” Meeting those who disagree with her, Silverman explains the need to “get people’s porcupine needles down. Our defenses go up and we can’t be open. The second I see their face and have a hug hello, my porcupine needles go down. I think theirs do, too. We all have our triggers. We are not changing each other. We are not opening each other’s minds. Until we see ourselves in each other in some way, I don’t know what kind of progress we can make.”

Her travels on the show have taken Silverman to meet Americans who oppose gay marriage and think Barack Obama was born in Kenya. She adds, “I have friends from the left who wonder how I can tolerate that. The answer is I’m a messed up comedian that wants to be liked. And I think there’s a part of all of us that goes towards love. I want these people to like me. Maybe that’s a messed up thing in me that has been the reason I pursued a life in comedy. I’m trying to make strangers laugh and like me.”

SEE Over 150 video interviews with 2018 Emmy contenders

In one episode Silverman interviewed Christian Picciolini, a former Neo-Nazi skinhead that now helps people get out of hate groups. Reflecting on their exchange, she says, “I think the trick is maybe everyone deserves your compassion. It’s hard to speak truth to power and have compassion for the people who believe the lies they are told. But that’s from my perspective. They probably feel the same on flip side. But still, they should have compassion for me.”

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