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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

I'm Alex Chadwick.

Ms. SARAH SILVERMAN (Comedian): Hi, I'm Sarah Silverman, and I'm just like you…

CHADWICK: The comedian Sarah Silverman made her mark with a shocking rendition of the dirty joke in the film, "The Aristocrats." With a straight face, she accused broadcast legend, Joe Franklin, of raping her.

BRAND: Okay, that doesn't sound particularly funny, but trust me, it is because Sarah Silverman's humor lies in the juxtaposition of a sweet young woman saying shocking things. And that's also the heart of her new TV program. It's called "The Sarah Silverman Program," and it premieres tonight on Comedy Central.

Ms. SILVERMAN: You know, I play Sarah Silverman, but I'm not a comedian or anything. I have no job. I completely mooch off of my younger sister Laura, who is a nurse.

BRAND: And then there are moments in the show where your break into a song.

Ms. SILVERMAN: Yeah.

BRAND: What…

Ms. SILVERMAN: Just like real life.

BRAND: Yeah.

Ms. SILVERMAN: We're sitting here, being interviewed - that was so queer. I don't know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SILVERMAN: Lord…

BRAND: No, I put you on the spot there. Okay.

Ms. SILVERMAN: No. Yeah, we break into song a little bit.

(Singing) I always wake up with the morning sun. I always take my pills with herbal tea. I always never cry, and I've always wondered why I always have to watch myself when I go pee. I really don't…

BRAND: When you hear the shorthand for people who may not know you or have seen you perform, the way I can sort of telescope it is you're kind of like Larry David in that you're kind of a narcissistic, loathsome person - on the show…

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: …mixed with Borat, who's got this sort of naïve, gross-out humor.

Ms. SILVERMAN: Wow, I love that. I like that. That's very flattering.

BRAND: You do? You like that? Oh, good.

Ms. SILVERMAN: I'm big fans of both of them, of course.

BRAND: Well, a lot of people don't like to…

Ms. SILVERMAN: Right. It's kind of rare to have an unlikable protagonist, you know.

(Soundbite of TV show, "The Sarah Silverman Program")

Ms. SILVERMAN: (As herself): Eew, who's that?

Unidentified Woman: Oh, that's my baby grandson. He's my favorite person in the world.

Ms. SILVERMAN: That's because you haven't let me in.

Unidentified Woman: Oh.

Ms. SILVERMAN: My favorite person is my sister Laura. It used to be Jared from the subway commercials, but I thought he got too preachy.

Unidentified Woman: Well, you know, family is the most important thing in life. It's who you are.

Ms. SILVERMAN: That is so right.

Unidentified Woman: Well, that's just what comes with being 70.

Ms. SILVERMAN: No, you're not. There is no way you are 70. You look too young.

Unidentified Woman: Oh, well, thank you. Now you really are my most favorite person in the world.

Ms. SILVERMAN: Well, now that you're closer, I can tell you're old.

BRAND: Do you want people to be shocked? Do you - are you looking for that? Or is it kind of just take me for what I am, I don't care?

Ms. SILVERMAN: I have to admit to using shock humor. I never consciously kind of look - just go, like, what will be the most shocking thing? But when you're with a room of comics - and those are the writers for the show - you tend to find those things because…

BRAND: They're kind of - they've seen it all or they're heard it all…

Ms. SILVERMAN: Exactly.

BRAND: So you've got to…

Ms. SILVERMAN: I was trying to (unintelligible).

BRAND: You've got a kind of…

Ms. SILVERMAN: I'm addicted to Red Bull, and I haven't had it. It's so sad. It really is the new cocaine. The innocent cocaine of the '70s is the Diet Red Bull of today.

BRAND: In your debut episode, you're just scarfing cough medicine.

Ms. SILVERMAN: Yes.

BRAND: Just pounding cough medicine.

Ms. SILVERMAN: I pound cough medicine, and I drive drunk…

BRAND: Then you…

Ms. SILVERMAN: …essentially.

BRAND: …you get into this accident, and then there's a cop standing outside your window.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: And you say a really funny line. He says, you know why I'm here?

Ms. SILVERMAN: Oh, yeah. I say - he says, do you know why I'm standing here? And I say…

(Soundbite of TV show, "The Sarah Silverman Program")

Unidentified Man #1: Ma'am, do you know why I'm standing here?

Ms. SILVERMAN: (As herself) You got all C's in high school?

(Soundbite of laughter)

BRAND: Did you write that, or did it just come to you?

Ms. SILVERMAN: No, I didn't write that. That was written by another writer.

BRAND: I want to play a couple of tapes from an episode, not the debut episode - another episode where you encounter a homeless man.

Ms. SILVERMAN: Zach Galifianakis.

(Soundbite of TV show, "The Sarah Silverman Program")

Mr. ZACH GALIFIANAKIS (Actor): (As Fred Blorth) Sarah Silverman?

Ms. SILVERMAN: (As herself) Gross homeless guy?

Mr. GALIFIANAKIS: (As Fred Blorth) It's Fred Blorth, Valley Village High.

Ms. SILVERMAN: Wow! I remember you. Fred Blorth, wow! How are you?

Mr. GALIFIANAKIS: (As herself) (As Fred Blorth) Well, I'm homeless.

Ms. SILVERMAN: (As herself) All right. Good. Great. Great.

Mr. GALIFIANAKIS: (As Fred Blorth) Actually, it's pretty awful.

Ms. SILVERMAN: (As herself) Oh, right. Hey, your pillow looks like a bunch of my old dishtowels.

Mr. GALIFIANAKIS: (As Fred Blorth) Yeah, it probably is. I go around the neighborhood looking in garbage cans for stuff. I hope you don't mind.

Ms. SILVERMAN: (As herself) Oh, God. No. No. Funny, you know, because we met all those years ago in high school, and now here we are. You know, I live in a nice apartment and you sleep on my garbage on a box on the street. It's like "The Gift of the Magi." God, great to see you. I've got to get brunch. There's stack there's a stack of pancakes looking for a home.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. SILVERMAN: (As herself) Oh, anyway. Take care, Fred. Bye.

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: My favorite is the take care, Fred, because I like, kind of like - we're going to depart, like, but I'm a good person thing that you hear so often.

BRAND: Exactly. Exactly. And that's sort of what I mean by the sort of the Larry David part of your…

Ms. SILVERMAN: Yeah, because it's a great vehicle for being - for that person who thinks they're such a good person being such a rat, you know.

BRAND: Right. I wanted to ask you, a lot is made of your looks. You actually use that sometimes in your comedy, where you say in the show, you know, I'm so pretty. Talk more about that, about using your looks.

Ms. SILVERMAN: I have no illusions of, you know, how I look or what I - I think I look fine. I mean I'm - I know people say I'm good looking. I'm good looking for a Jew and for a comedian. But I - you know I mean? It's not like - it's like with singing. You know, I never say I sing. So then when people see me sing, they go, hey, you're all right, you know. But if I was like, yeah, I'm a singer, people would be like, she's not that good. She's not good. You know what I mean? I think people's expectations are low, and that's good for me.

BRAND: But people make a big deal out of your looks. Why? I mean, you're just…

Ms. SILVERMAN: I think it's because I'm funny. You know, I mean, I am - I'm not funny to everybody, but I am pretty funny. And people go, well, why did she need to become funny? I've had my own personal reasons of how - why I've had to become funny. In childhood, we all have different things that we need to learn and do, and that was just one of them for me, for my - whatever my various reasons were in my family, in my life. And where I grew up, you know.

There a lot of things - I was the only Jew in New - you know, not the only Jew in New Hampshire, but you know, in like my school in New Hampshire. Even though we were not in any way religious, I felt Jewish because no one else was. And I'm like super hairy, and everyone else was like very blond and hairless and L.L. Bean-ish.

And so, you know, I still - there still was something different about me, and I guess that had a lot to do with it. Plus, I mean, I found out at a very early age how good it felt when people laughed. You know, my dad would teach me how -swears when I was like two and three. And when I would say them, I got this really great response. And, you know, I mean, I just - technically speaking, looking back, I can see how that would make me keep trying to do whatever I could to get laughs. It felt good - a little relief.

BRAND: Sarah Silverman stars in the new Comedy Central show, "The Sarah Silverman Program." Thank you very much for coming in and speaking with us.

Ms. SILVERMAN: Thank you. That was fun.

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