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October 29, 2012
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Sarah Silverman tries new characters on for size
By Jordan Riefe, Special to QMI Agency


Sarah Silverman during the red carpet arrivals for movie Take This Waltz at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. (Dave Abel/QMI Agency)

You may know Sarah Silverman from her breakout concert movie, Jesus Is Magic, or by her recent viral video offering sexual favors to billionaire Sheldon Adelson if he'll donate $100 million to the Obama campaign.

Famous for crude and racy humor, Silverman is not the name that comes to mind when we think of dramas or family fare.

But that might be changing with projects like Take This Waltz and, opening this Friday, Wreck-It Ralph.

"I did a drama and my agents were all so excited," Silverman says of Take This Waltz, directed by Canadian Sarah Polley and co-starring Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams.

"Seth Rogen and I were like, it's all the same to us," Silverman says. "It's playing words and moments honestly. It's the same in comedy."

It's honesty of a different sort she employs in Wreck-It Ralph, about a video game character who goes soul searching in a neighboring game at an arcade.

Playing opposite John C. Reilly as Ralph, Silverman steals the show as his new friend, Vanellope von Schweetz, a computer glitch who is prohibited from competing in her game, Sugar Rush a candy-coated car race.

"She's this scrappy, obnoxious, precocious, tough kid," says the comedian, describing her character in a way some describe Silverman herself. "But behind every tough kid is a scared little boy or girl."

For Silverman it's been an uphill battle getting people to think of her as something other than her profane comic persona.

"People know me too much," she says. "I'm so exposed and can be polarizing and not for everyone."

After writing for Saturday Night Live in the 1990s, she broke out with her concert movie, Jesus is Magic, (2005) in which she tells a group of seniors, "You're all going to die soon," and holds the mike to her various orifices adapting a different voice for each.

More of the same can be found on The Sarah Silverman Program, which ran on Comedy Central from 2007 to 2010.

These days she's been popping up on show's like Louie and The Simpsons, and next January is launching her own YouTube channel Jash.

It won't be Silverman's first big splash on the Internet. In recent months her Let My People Vote vids highlighting election issues went viral, with one addressed to Republican Adelson, generating 20 million hits on YouTube.

It's precisely this kind of edgy comedy that has garnered Silverman a cult following but has also earned her detractors.

Recently caught flak from an orthodox Rabbi who said the comedian "lacked the basic desire of the feminine soul," chiding her for putting career ahead of family.

Silverman's 75-year-old father, Ronald rushed to her defense reminding the Rabbi that one of his daughters, Susan, is also a Rabbi, concluding with the warning, "Don't f-- with my family."

When the comedian heard her father's response, she tweeted "Oh Dad! You're my hero. Where do you get such moxie??"

Over the years, Silverman has learned not to take it personally. "I'm not everybody's cup of tea and that's okay," she shrugs. "You can't be for everybody."

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