Jerusalem Post 50 Most Influential Jews: Number 48 - Sarah Silverman

Silverman has built on the tradition of politically oriented Jewish comedians before her.

Sarah Silverman (photo credit: REUTERS)
Sarah Silverman
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Some people might opine that all politicians are comedians, but the only professional comic to address the Democratic National Conference last summer was Sarah Silverman. And according to many pundits, the acid-tongued, sharp-witted American humorist and staunch supporter of Bernie Sanders, helped shape the tone of the gathering in Philadelphia, and pave the way for the coronation of Hillary Clinton, when, in characteristic bluntness, she told the delegates: “Can I say something? To the ‘Bernie or Bust’ people, you’re being ridiculous.”
She said what the rest of the speakers wanted to say, but whose political confines wouldn’t allow. Politico even coined a term – “Silverman Democrats” – for Sanders supporters who followed the candidate’s advice to support Clinton in the general election, and The New York Times called her speech “the perfect breath of fresh air.”
It wasn’t the first time that the 45-year-old performer/actress has delved into the political field. In 2008, she released an irreverent video urging her fellow American Jews to convince their Florida grandparents to vote for Barack Obama.
Whether delving into Washington politics or sexual politics, Silverman has been a game changer. During her varied career as a comedy writer, film and TV actress, stand-up comedian, commentator and social activist for liberal causes, she has built on the tradition of politically oriented Jewish comedians before her – from Lenny Bruce to Roseanne Barr – while forging an entirely new path.
She has brought desperately needed humor to the unlikeliest of places – like the Women of the Wall protests (championed by her Jerusalem-based sister, Rabbi Susan Silverman). While professing to not practice any religion, Silverman practices her Jewishness constantly.
“Culturally I can’t escape it; I’m very Jewish,” she said once.
Her brazen fearlessness has paved the way for a generation of potty-mouthed Jewish, no-hold barred comedians like Amy Schumer, Lena Dunham and Abbi Jacobson. But none of them could be as politically incorrect – or as funny – as Silverman.