Skip to main site content.

In jeopardy

Comedian Sarah Silverman draws on life experience to play dramatic role

By WITW Staff on October 24, 2015

Comedian Sarah Silverman has defied expectations, playing the lead in I Smile Back, released on Friday, about a woman suffering from depression and anxiety. It’s a subject with which the funny lady is deeply familiar.

The 44-year-old was first prescribed anti-depressants when she was 14. As an adult, Silverman still succumbs to what she refers to as “intermittent downward spirals,” she told NPR’s Terry Gross, but manages them with medication and coping mechanisms established over the past 30 years.

She also spoke with Gross about the sexism she dealt with early in her career, in the very male-dominated comedy world, where she was told the jokes that worked were the ones that could also be told by a man — and didn’t take their themes from the female experience. “Comedy is about talking about my own experience, and I’m a woman, and that’s my experience, and just because it isn’t yours doesn’t invalidate it,” she says now. “It’s so obvious now to even argue or talk about, but it was a real thing.”

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Silverman weighed in on the front-running 2016 presidential aspirants. “Bernie [Sanders] is the only politician not for sale,” she said. “Look, I love Hillary [Clinton] too, but Goldman-Sachs owns her. She might as well be wearing race car driver [logos]. … Everybody’s for sale, and here’s this guy who’s been a senator for a million years from Vermont who is just simply not for sale.” As for Donald Trump, she says he is “out of his mind, but he’s been great in terms of exposing the realities of politics. Greed, money, addiction.”

In I Smile Back, Silverman plays Laney Brooks, a desperate, middle-class housewife and mother struggling with mental illness and addiction. “I don’t have easy access to my emotions,” Silverman admitted. “They’re very tightly packed and compartmentalized. But for this part, they had to be on the surface.”

Read the full story at NPR and the LA Times.