"My vitamins are, like, right here," Sarah Silverman moans, pointing to her diaphragm and letting out the pained cry of a cartoon baby. "And it hurts so bad -- I've never felt it like this!" She's mugging like Jim Carrey and trying to massage some recently ingested vitamins down her tubes. ("These are also what I give to my dog," she says of the supplements.) "Are they moving? I can't tell! Help me!" Several patrons of this Silverlake coffee shop look up from their soy lattes and chuckle heartily.
 
Sarah Silverman's pain makes people laugh. And that's because she can laugh at her own pain. She can laugh at the pain of others, too -- when a woman drops a bottled beverage on her way to the register, Silverman looks up and snaps, "OK, we can't have nice things!" It's an old Paula Poundstone joke she often invokes in a butterfingers moment.
 
Forgoing journalistic distance, let me just say: I was very excited to meet Sarah Silverman. Ever since the 2004 viral video in which she demanded that Santa Claus "give the Jew girl toys," she has been, quite frankly, my friend in my head. This one-sided kinship was only strengthened by her 2005 film Jesus Is Magic and her Comedy Central pseudo-sitcom The Sarah Silverman Program, which just finished its third season. Following her on Twitter has provided daily doses of the impish and controversial comic stylings that, to this girl's mind, paved the way for a plethora of comic female voices unapologetically tackling issues like sex, race and bodily (mal)functions.
 
Her heady brew of keen social commentary, broad bathroom humor and the exorcism of personal demons is fully on display in her latest venture, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee, a collection of personal essays that hit shelves last month. (Silverman famously suffered from the titular malady well into her teens, a reality she discussed in a startlingly open, and bravely unfunny, interview with Katie Couric in 2008.)
 
"I've been asked to do a book a bunch of times because I'm a comic and once you hit any kind of level with that, it's an easy book. But I never felt like I had a book in me. Until this time. I have a new perspective that comes from getting older and I thought, 'I have a book in me.'" The resultant tome, she says, "is all true, unless there's something that's clearly all lies."

So how did this master-tweeter -- a recent favorite: "I don't wanna be 'THAT GUY' exists exclusively as the precursor to being 'that guy'" -- take to long-form writing? "There is so much to unlearn," she says. "As a comic you're used to boiling every idea down to the nut. In the beginning I wrote with such a furrowed brow, the way I thought writers should write. I had to throw a lot of that away." With none of the audience give-and-take, "writing is so lonely" she says of the slog, which brought her eight months over deadline. "You learn to give yourself rewards every time you make any kind of stride. Like, 'Oh, I deserve a nap.'"
 
In a world where the same celebrity will release a sex tape and then say, "No comment," Silverman's ability to lay herself bare with class and composure borders on revolutionary. She's clearly at ease with her past, but how did the subjects of her book feel about their depictions? "I didn't betray anyone," she says. "I think you can make something interesting without being like [she assumes a tragic martyr's voice], 'This person did this to me!'" The book focuses mainly on Silverman's early life in New Hampshire, essentially bypassing her time in Hollywood and last year's much-discussed breakup with longtime boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel (to whom she once famously sang, "I'm fucking Matt Damon.") But she did detail the loss of her virginity at age 19 at the hands of an older comic. Silverman sent the chapter to the fellow, now married, to get his blessing. Then, in a meta-move, she chose to include the resultant email back-and-forth as an epilogue to the tale.


 
Silverman has used her singular, bawdy brand of humor to conquer screens both big and small, the Internet and now the written word. So prior to our meeting, the question that continually arose from my equally Silverman-smitten girlfriends was: "Will she be funny in person?"
 
The answer becomes clear mid-interview, when a mustachioed guy on a skateboard passes by and flashes the peace sign. He's working on Silverman's cover shoot that's about to begin around the corner in a Warholian warehouse space. She assumes a hipster drawl: "I get it, you're really fucking cool. Let me guess you do coke ironically." She slaps a hand over her mouth. "I shouldn't! It's just my insecurity. This neighborhood is too cool for me. I live in an old-people neighborhood. My building, my neighbors -- all old people. I pass them on the tennis court with my dog and heckle them."
 
If L.A. is still slightly alien, it's because Silverman's formative years as a comic were spent in New York. "I still think of myself as a New Yorker, even though I moved there when I was 18 and moved here when I was 24," she says, wistfully recalling her East Village walkup. "I love my life in L.A., but I love New York like a person," she says, clutching her breast.
 
That said, Silverman has an actual person to love these days; and for that she can thank the modern marvel known as Twitter. "I have friends who were mocking me, like, 'Oh, you do Twitter? Why don't you go tweet something?' You're right, guys, don't embrace any new technology creatively. That would be so gay." She gets serious. "Don't you feel a responsibility on some level to embrace all forms of technology that you can be creative with? Why would you not do that? How is that not cool?"
 
And Twitter is how she first noticed now-boyfriend Alec Sulkin, a former standup and current writer and producer of Family Guy. "I didn't know him but I followed [him on  Twitter] and thought he was so funny. So I direct messaged him and said, 'You're funny.'" They continued direct messaging (a form that is also, it should be noted, limited to 140 characters) for a week or so, then transitioned to email. "It's the most modern romance but also the most old-fashioned romance, like we were contacting each other through telegram."
 
One night, Silverman recalls, "I had dinner with some friends, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got into bed with my laptop, and saw that he had written me. So I just wrote, 'Do you want to come over and feel my forehead until I fall asleep?' and he emailed back and said, 'Yes.' So I gave him my address and then thought, 'Oh my God, he's coming to murder me,' and I was thinking of that scene in Election when Matthew Broderick is about to have a sexual encounter and he goes home and washes his balls really fast." He arrived half an hour later, knocked on the door, extended his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Alec."
 
Yesterday was their "13 weekversary" and she has the jealousy-inducing glow of a woman under the influence. "We've had 93 sleepovers. Actually 92, because one night [dramatic mock-whisper] I had diarrhea."
 
So now that she's got both the career and the boy, what's next? "There's no master plan. There's never been one. The advantage I have is that I really don't care about money. Money doesn't drive me. I own my car. After this year I'll own my apartment. Besides that, I don't want for much. So I've been able to do what I think is awesome, whether it's a video on my couch for free, or a web series, or a TV show on Comedy Central that no one sees. I've just been able to do whatever I think is fun or cool." She adds, "I have an idea for a movie and I'm just sort of waiting for that to fully hit me. I know I'm 39 but I'm not in a rush. I don't know what's going to happen next."
 
What happens in the more immediate future is this: As we get up to leave, our barista approaches. "Excuse me," he says. "I didn't realize who you were before. I wanted to introduce myself and ask... I just thought I'd ask..." he's shaking. "I make music, it's like Billy Idol meets 50 Cent, and I thought maybe you could get my demo to Dr. Dre."
 
"Oh, no!" Silverman cries. "I don't even know Dr. Dre!"
 
He looks crestfallen. "I've exhausted all my other avenues."
 
"But you have to just keep it up. Do shows and shows and shows and shows. I wish I knew Dr. Dre, but I don't."
 
"I'm sorry to disappoint him," she says as I walk her around the corner to her shoot. On the way, I nosily wonder whether she's ever dated anyone who wasn't a comic. "I dated a writer," she says, before pausing to reassess this statement. "Well, he was a comedy writer. I guess I've always gone out with people in comedy." She shrugs: "I'm attracted to funny."
 
So is everyone else, clearly, because the moment we arrive, the crew assembles around her, their faces morphed into perma-smiles. A small exotic bird named Pierre is placed on her shoulder, a living, breathing prop. "Pierre," she coos as he nibbles her hair. "Do you speak English or only French?" Everyone laughs. Because she's funny in person. She is a funny person.
 
 



So how did this master-tweeter -- a recent favorite: "I don't wanna be 'THAT GUY' exists exclusively as the precursor to being 'that guy'" -- take to long-form writing? "There is so much to unlearn," she says. "As a comic you're used to boiling every idea down to the nut. In the beginning I wrote with such a furrowed brow, the way I thought writers should write. I had to throw a lot of that away." With none of the audience give-and-take, "writing is so lonely" she says of the slog, which brought her eight months over deadline. "You learn to give yourself rewards every time you make any kind of stride. Like, 'Oh, I deserve a nap.'"
 
In a world where the same celebrity will release a sex tape and then say, "No comment," Silverman's ability to lay herself bare with class and composure borders on revolutionary. She's clearly at ease with her past, but how did the subjects of her book feel about their depictions? "I didn't betray anyone," she says. "I think you can make something interesting without being like [she assumes a tragic martyr's voice], 'This person did this to me!'" The book focuses mainly on Silverman's early life in New Hampshire, essentially bypassing her time in Hollywood and last year's much-discussed breakup with longtime boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel (to whom she once famously sang, "I'm fucking Matt Damon.") But she did detail the loss of her virginity at age 19 at the hands of an older comic. Silverman sent the chapter to the fellow, now married, to get his blessing. Then, in a meta-move, she chose to include the resultant email back-and-forth as an epilogue to the tale.
 
Silverman has used her singular, bawdy brand of humor to conquer screens both big and small, the Internet and now the written word. So prior to our meeting, the question that continually arose from my equally Silverman-smitten girlfriends was: "Will she be funny in person?"
 
The answer becomes clear mid-interview, when a mustachioed guy on a skateboard passes by and flashes the peace sign. He's working on Silverman's cover shoot that's about to begin around the corner in a Warholian warehouse space. She assumes a hipster drawl: "I get it, you're really fucking cool. Let me guess you do coke ironically." She slaps a hand over her mouth. "I shouldn't! It's just my insecurity. This neighborhood is too cool for me. I live in an old-people neighborhood. My building, my neighbors -- all old people. I pass them on the tennis court with my dog and heckle them."
 
If L.A. is still slightly alien, it's because Silverman's formative years as a comic were spent in New York. "I still think of myself as a New Yorker, even though I moved there when I was 18 and moved here when I was 24," she says, wistfully recalling her East Village walkup. "I love my life in L.A., but I love New York like a person," she says, clutching her breast.
 
That said, Silverman has an actual person to love these days; and for that she can thank the modern marvel known as Twitter. "I have friends who were mocking me, like, 'Oh, you do Twitter? Why don't you go tweet something?' You're right, guys, don't embrace any new technology creatively. That would be so gay." She gets serious. "Don't you feel a responsibility on some level to embrace all forms of technology that you can be creative with? Why would you not do that? How is that not cool?"
 
And Twitter is how she first noticed now-boyfriend Alec Sulkin, a former standup and current writer and producer of Family Guy. "I didn't know him but I followed [him on  Twitter] and thought he was so funny. So I direct messaged him and said, 'You're funny.'" They continued direct messaging (a form that is also, it should be noted, limited to 140 characters) for a week or so, then transitioned to email. "It's the most modern romance but also the most old-fashioned romance, like we were contacting each other through telegram."
 
One night, Silverman recalls, "I had dinner with some friends, washed my face, brushed my teeth, got into bed with my laptop, and saw that he had written me. So I just wrote, 'Do you want to come over and feel my forehead until I fall asleep?' and he emailed back and said, 'Yes.' So I gave him my address and then thought, 'Oh my God, he's coming to murder me,' and I was thinking of that scene in Election when Matthew Broderick is about to have a sexual encounter and he goes home and washes his balls really fast." He arrived half an hour later, knocked on the door, extended his hand and said, "Hi, I'm Alec."
 
Yesterday was their "13 weekversary" and she has the jealousy-inducing glow of a woman under the influence. "We've had 93 sleepovers. Actually 92, because one night [dramatic mock-whisper] I had diarrhea."
 
So now that she's got both the career and the boy, what's next? "There's no master plan. There's never been one. The advantage I have is that I really don't care about money. Money doesn't drive me. I own my car. After this year I'll own my apartment. Besides that, I don't want for much. So I've been able to do what I think is awesome, whether it's a video on my couch for free, or a web series, or a TV show on Comedy Central that no one sees. I've just been able to do whatever I think is fun or cool." She adds, "I have an idea for a movie and I'm just sort of waiting for that to fully hit me. I know I'm 39 but I'm not in a rush. I don't know what's going to happen next."
 
What happens in the more immediate future is this: As we get up to leave, our barista approaches. "Excuse me," he says. "I didn't realize who you were before. I wanted to introduce myself and ask... I just thought I'd ask..." he's shaking. "I make music, it's like Billy Idol meets 50 Cent, and I thought maybe you could get my demo to Dr. Dre."
 
"Oh, no!" Silverman cries. "I don't even know Dr. Dre!"
 
He looks crestfallen. "I've exhausted all my other avenues."
 
"But you have to just keep it up. Do shows and shows and shows and shows. I wish I knew Dr. Dre, but I don't."
 
"I'm sorry to disappoint him," she says as I walk her around the corner to her shoot. On the way, I nosily wonder whether she's ever dated anyone who wasn't a comic. "I dated a writer," she says, before pausing to reassess this statement. "Well, he was a comedy writer. I guess I've always gone out with people in comedy." She shrugs: "I'm attracted to funny."
 
So is everyone else, clearly, because the moment we arrive, the crew assembles around her, their faces morphed into perma-smiles. A small exotic bird named Pierre is placed on her shoulder, a living, breathing prop. "Pierre," she coos as he nibbles her hair. "Do you speak English or only French?" Everyone laughs. Because she's funny in person. She is a funny person.
 

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