Debut of "The Sarah Silverman Program"

February 1, 2007

At once sharp-tongued and tongue-in-cheek, comedian Sarah Silverman has become ubiquitous in recent years in the roles of author, producer, and actress.  But her breakthrough came on this date in 2007, when The Sarah Silverman Program debuted on Comedy Central.  The show defined and popularized her persona as an unconventional and ironically naive heroine.

Born December 1, 1970, Silverman was raised in Bedford, New Hampshire.  Her mother, Beth Ann, was the personal campaign photographer for George McGovern’s presidential bid and later founded a theatre company.  Her father, Donald, trained as a social worker and ran Crazy Sophie’s Outlet, a clothing store.  Silverman was the youngest of their five children.  Her sister Susan (now a rabbi in Jerusalem) wrote an article about growing up with Sarah for the Jewish Journal.  She attended but did not graduate from New York University and began performing standup in Greenwich Village.

Silverman credits her early disappointment of being fired from Saturday Night Live (where she worked for 18 weeks in 1993–4 without having one of her sketches make it past the dress rehearsal) with giving her the resilience to forge ahead with her career.  She made several appearances on televisions shows and in films, including Mr. Show, There’s Something About Mary, Seinfeld, and the documentary The Aristocrats

2007 was her breakout year, with the debut of her self-titled show, an Emmy nomination, hosting the MTV Movie Awards, and appearing on the cover of Maxim’s Hot 100 issue.  Since then, she has written the memoir The Bedwetter, appeared in public service announcements for voting rights, and starred in the standup special Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles.  Her first dramatic film I Smile Back premiered in 2015 at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Commenting on her Jewish background, which she regularly mines for material, Silverman said, “People are always introducing me as ‘Sarah Silverman, Jewish comedienne.’  I HATE that!  I wish people would see me for who I really am—I’m white!”

Sources: “My Sister Sarah,” Jewish Journal; SarahSilvermanOnline

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Comedian Sarah Silverman at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.
Courtesy of Joan Garvin

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Debut of "The Sarah Silverman Program"." (Viewed on February 28, 2021) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/feb/01/2007/debut-of-sarah-silverman-program>.

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