Sarah Silverman’s humor doesn’t translate well for Brits

Comedian Sarah Silverman has attempted to export her off-kilter brand of humor to the U.K. – and so far, audiences would like to send her back to the U.S. Silverman was booed and received scathing reviews of her new act at London’s Hammersmith Apollo by fans who didn’t think her act was funny or long enough to justify the price tag of admission. Ouch!

US comedian Sarah Silverman was heckled on stage during her UK stand-up debut in London.

Fans, who had paid about £50 a ticket, slow hand clapped and shouted they wanted their money back after the star’s short 40-minute set.

After the audience refused to leave, Silverman was forced to give a Q&A session as an encore after admitting she had no other material prepared.

The comedian has her own show on US cable TV network Comedy Central.

Unimpressed fans shouted “you’re over-hyped Sarah” and “I’ve seen longer clips on YouTube”, before the star told the audience to “go home” and the left the stage.

Reviewers from comedy websites and national newspapers were also left underwhelmed by Silverman’s set at the Hammersmith Apollo, which “fizzled out” by the end.

[From Huffington Post]

I like Sarah, but I’m willing to admit that her stand-up is often hit-or-miss. So is her show. Sometimes I laugh hysterically, and sometimes I’m totally grossed out. Maybe that’s how she wants it to be. I have a couple friends who are stand-up comics, and they tell me it’s a rough line of work. If you’re having an off night, it is hard to hide – and the audience is encouraged to be less than kind. I have noticed a big change in Sarah’s material and delivery since the Jimmy Kimmel breakup – I wonder if that’s got anything to do with it? In any case, I’d rather listen/watch Sarah than Britain’s new comic “it” boy, Russell Brand, any day of the week. If that’s what the U.K. thinks is funny, no wonder Sarah tanked.

Photos of Sarah performing at a benefit for Darfur in August 2008 courtesy of Bauergriffin.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

49 Responses to “Sarah Silverman’s humor doesn’t translate well for Brits”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. Kaiser says:

    I daresay her humor doesn’t translate well in America, too.

    Overrated. So sad.

  2. geronimo says:

    Point of info, Russell Brand is not ‘new’ (been around for at least 5 years) and is not Britain’s comic ‘it’ boy.

    Back to Sarah S, I watched her on 8 Out Of 10 Cats (Ch.4 comedy show) and she really struggled alongside the other comedians, tried way too hard, which is what I don’t like about her. Not funny at all and unsurprised that her show was grim. Maybe we just have higher standards. 8)

  3. Baholicious says:

    “Off-kilter”? I have a pretty good sense of humour (that’s why I love this board – it’s the only one I visit. Smart and funny ladies here!). I love base humour as well but Silverman makes me wince. She is not funny. She is trying to be the ‘square’ who shocks people with ‘guy humour’. Except she’s just gross.

    Sorry hon, Garofalo had that down years ago and left you at the starting gate.

    Rules of being a female comic:
    1) don’t be one because men are intimidated and generally don’t like funny women;
    2) appeal to your female audience;
    3) you need a hide 4 feet thick;
    4) the women who did go into comedy particularly adhered to number 2. All of them. Silverman tries to be like one of the guys – which guys can’t stand and women abhorr – and her only audience is Jimmy Kimmel.

    Sarah, you can’t do comedy unless you understand the gender dynamic, whether it’s right or not. And, more importantly, if you can’t speak to your sisters, regardless of your orientation (Ellen and Bernhardt did it) your frigged. You can’t even speak to human beings period, and it’s pathetic.

    Oh, and did I mention Sarah Silverman is not funny? She’s pathetic.

    Check out a stand-up women comedian compliation called ‘Wisecracks’. You’ll see Ellen in her early days, Rita Rudner…it’s one of the funniest, and most well done docs I’ve ever seen.

    Female comics are gladiators.

  4. Baholicious says:

    Hi CB: what happened to the font on the comment board? I thought one of the lenses of my glasses fell out..
    seriously, it’s really small and it’s not my browser settings. ❓

  5. Mairead says:

    FIFTY POUNDS!!! for a 40 minute set by someone who’s barely known on the standup circuit on this side of the pond?!?! I hope they were in private boxes for that price and she had one hell of a warm-up act.

    I mean, Bill Bailey’s (aka Sir William of Bailey) *worship worship* Tinselworm gigs are £50 in the stalls at the Royal Albert Hall – and he’s a comic genius!

    Hell even his *worship worship* Remarkable Guide to the Orchestra was only about £38 and you got a full blooming orchestra sneaking in Bee Gees hits for that!!!!

    I’ve only seen her in School of Rock and in broadcasts I think from Montreal. TBH, I wasn’t impressed.

    EDIT – I’d rather watch Jo Brand, who’s far funnier than the pair of them put together and who obeys all but No.1 of Baholicious’s rules for female comics 😉

  6. devilgirl says:

    I am glad someone else made the comment about the weird font change, I was ready to call a computer tech to fix things!

  7. geronimo says:

    Seriously, Mairead, King William of Bailey. Pure genius.

    @Baho – the font thing happens from time to time – it’s a glitch at the CB end.

  8. Tabby says:

    Well, at least I don’t feel so alone in not finding her funny. I thought I was missing something!
    I agree with Mairead in that Jo Brand has already done the gross out gags better and funnier than SS, and if you ever saw her being ripped apart by Trinny and Suzanna you would know she is a lovely person outside of her comedy persona as well, which I (might be wrong about) doubt SS is.
    Mind you, I hate Rusell Brand as well. Unfunny and a nasty skanky sleaze!

  9. Nova says:

    She’s not funny at all. I havent found a single thing she has ever done to be humorous. She’s gross and overrated by the half a dozen people who actually like her.

  10. Kris R says:

    I think she’s hilarious. To each their own!!!! Don’t judge, don’t hate…

    • D says:

      It’s not judging or hating. It’s called exactly what you did in your post: stating your opinion. Personally, I think she sucks. Not judging. Not hating. Just my opinion.

  11. Mairead says:

    Yay – another Jo Brand fan 😀

    y’know geronimo, I have two English friends who also, and completely independent of me doing so, refer to him as Sir William of Bailey. He is brilliant – how many other people can get in Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time and dissect the Act of God Clause in their act and have people literally gasping for air? 😆

  12. geronimo says:

    M – He’s probably one of the cleverest living comedic and musical genuises! I love him live (and hope to get tickets to see Tinselworm in November) but also love seeing him in the company of people like Stephen Fry (do you see QI?) where they both get to be exceedingly clever and funny and genius-like together.

  13. Baholicious says:

    I don’t know who Sir William of Bailey is 🙁 a link anyone?

    But I do remember Dave Allen at Large 😀 what a riot!

    On another topic of humour, ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em’?

  14. OMGWTFBBQ says:

    Baholicious–I’m sorry, what?

    “Rules of being a female comic:
    1) don’t be one because men are intimidated and generally don’t like funny women;”

    Oh, so if men don’t like it, we’re supposed to not do it? Who the hell are you? I suppose with that attitude women would have never done anything, ever, except make babies.

    All the real men I knew love strong independent opinionated women with a great sense of humor. Men who don’t are chauvenists, and trying to appeal to that audience is beneath any woman.

    2) appeal to your female audience;

    You shouldn’t have to pander to an audience, you should be able to be yourself.

    3) you need a hide 4 feet thick;

    True of anyone.

    4) the women who did go into comedy particularly adhered to number 2. All of them.

    That’s probably why no one liked them and there aren’t many. Most female comics are pretentious and don’t make fun of themselves. Who likes that? And how did Ellen DeGeneres, for instance, pander to her female audience besides the lesbian one?

    How about instead of saying “Oh she’s a girl acting like a guy” we just acknowledge that some people act traditionally masculine and others, traditionally feminine–regardless of their gender or what people say they are supposed to be.

    *shakes head* Dont be a female comic because men are intimidated and don’t like funny women. What is this world coming to?

  15. Vannuccia says:

    The problem is, the girl’s just not funny. I saw her being interviewed on ‘Jonathan Ross’ and the whole interview was painful to say the least. Everyone seemed bored of her, and she just came across as being arrogant and attempting too much to be funny- instead she just came across as being unnerving and pathetic. A sign of a true comic is someone who can think on their feet, without the need of preparation.

  16. ak says:

    The only time I really enjoyed Silverman was on Greg the Bunny, and she was pretty much the straight man in that case.

    I hated Russell Brand until I saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I don’t think you can play a mindless twit so well if you actually are one. Still, I’ve never anyone this side of Colin Farrell who looks more like they need a good shampoo and nail-clipping.

  17. Sunny says:

    Pretty girl, but about as funny as a tumor.

  18. geronimo says:

    @Baho – Bill Bailey link –

  19. aleach says:

    i love sarah! i feel like wed get along really well, haha. but i think we have the same kind of sense of humor, too bad the brits didnt get it.
    they said the same thing about russell brand when he hosted the VMAs in september, but i thought he was good, maybe just not for that age group in the audience.
    and he was so great in forgetting sarah marshall! he was perfect for that role

  20. JK says:

    FIFTY POUNDS FOR FORTY MINUTES. Are you kidding me? That’s completely ridiculous. Especially as I’ve never found Sarah Silverman to be funny… ever. (Her ‘humor’ doesn’t translate well to some of her fellow Americans like me, either.) With the exception of the Matt Damon thing, which was really only funny because of Matt Damon.

    As for the Russell Brand comment, the man is hilarious when he’s not confined to censorship limitations or certain topics (and when he’s not allowed to ramble on for too long ;).

    There are tons of female comedians out there that are so much funnier and consistently so than freaking Sarah that don’t get half the attention she does and likely do deserve to draw crowds in at a $100 ticket. (Like mentioned above, women like Jo Brand are amazing. The Brits have as good a sense of humor as we Americans do, yo.)

  21. WTF?!?! says:

    I don’t find her even remotely funny. She’s like 🙁 , caught up in her own, misplaced belief she’s amusing. Ah, well, someone will always think attempts at humour are entertaining.

  22. Mairead says:

    Now bear in mind that he’s not quite as side-splitting in recordings as he is live. But hey, I’ve still nearly worn my DVDs of him and Black Books thin. I’ve had the honour of seeing him live twice – I never seem to get to the tickets in time the last few times he’s played Ireland.

    I brought my very sceptical flatmate to one a few years back – he literally spluttered his pint over the heads of everyone to the front of us. And at one point he had to get down on his hands and knees because he was laughing so much. The man had turned puce!!

    My all-time favourite of his is the Taliban denouncing everything from the west – except Mitusbishi 4X4s, Timex watches and KitKats. Not the old, little fingered KitKats, for they are the Sticks of Satan, but the KitKat Chunky which is truely fit for a servant of Allah! 😆

    Looks like a trip to London may be in order 😈

  23. vdantev says:

    Maybe if she put a little white handkerchief with knots tied in the corners on her head and screamed the jokes, or was a man in woman’s clothes they’d understand.

  24. Syko says:

    I haven’t seen her too often, but she was on … something … this weekend and I do recall actually laughing out loud at her, so I must think she’s funny. Or something.

    Maybe it wasn’t a laugh, but a sneeze.

  25. kat says:

    I was a big big fan, but I was at the gig and it was just embarrassing to watch. I wouldn’t pay to see her again, but I can’t imagine her ever being booked here again.

    All old material, priced at $2 a minute with the audience having to remind her the words to the songs after waiting for two hours to even sit down.

    Everyone in that audience had paid to see her – we all “got” her humour – she was appalling. She should be ashamed of the way that she treated the audience.

  26. whatevs says:

    Did anyone see that cancer public statement/commerical thing she did? I chuckled a bit. I saw her on Jay Leno a few years ago and thought she was pretty funny. I don’t really like her show all that much and can’t stand her singing, but she seems like she might be funnier in person. Like if we were to meet she might make me laugh, I don’t know. Oh and I’m not trying to answer for anyone, but I think Baholicious might have meant don’t become a comedienne JUST because men are intimidated and don’t like funny women. Not, don’t become a comedienne because they are intimidated, etc. That’s just how I read it.

  27. Mairead says:

    😆 love the Gumby reference vdantev 😆

    My bwaaaain hurts!! 😆

  28. jennifer says:

    Don’t find her to be the funniest thing out there, but I like HER, she’s a cool broad. And anyone who can call Paris Hilton a whore in FRONT of Paris Hilton is aces to me 🙂 😆

  29. Jen says:

    Nah, Silverman’s great – I thought her concert film was hilarious and I’ve laughed at pretty much every episode of her Comedy Central show. Every comedian has a rough night now and then – it sounds like she was just off-kilter and the audience was rightfully pissed at having paid so much for so little. Hopefully for her it won’t happen again.

  30. embertine says:

    There are a lot of us in the UK who’d be only too happy to get rid of Russell Brand. Yikes.

    Eddie Izzard, Bill Bailey, Jo Brand… Much better!

    I kind if admire Sarah Silverman, but I also find her comedy hit-and-miss and wouldn’t go to see her live.

  31. DLR says:

    I am not surprised the British razzed Sarah. I don’t like her sense of humour. She has a strange way of trying to make things funny. The British have a much better way of making fun of not so good things.

  32. myes says:

    “Point of info, Russell Brand is not ‘new’ (been around for at least 5 years) and is not Britain’s comic ‘it’ boy.

    Back to Sarah S, I watched her on 8 Out Of 10 Cats (Ch.4 comedy show) and she really struggled alongside the other comedians, tried way too hard, which is what I don’t like about her. Not funny at all and unsurprised that her show was grim. Maybe we just have higher standards. 8)”

    I couldn’t have said it better my self, she was completely out of her depth with those guys, i could trade blows with them and i dont even purport to be a stand up comic.

    She is nothing but a mix of roy chubby brown and jimmy carr……sans the humour.

    Shame really, she is hot and id be happy to stare at her for an hour or two.

  33. actingrc says:

    i’ve just never gotten her.
    and i don’t mean to feed the trolls BUT…
    OMGWTFBBQ. chill. out. and learn to live in the real world. if you’re going to be a female stand up comedian you have to either tell jokes guys will like too and appeal to them too since they are most of the comedy audience, not to mention club owners and reviewers, or you have to bond with women, because they’ll relate to you, and have jokes that they will be willing to come out and clap for, thereby growing the potential audience. them’s your options. every performer has a shtick – i can almost guarantee you they are not like that the rest of the time. comedians are not being themselves. they’re being someone else. so of course you have to pick a demographic to pander to and go whole hog. it’s not squelching their “wommyynnness” or however we’re spelling it these days. it’s marketing.
    and i should point out, a sense of humor is not the same as being a comedian. in some people they are mutually exclusive.

  34. Rachel says:

    Russel Brand FTW!

  35. Rupert Psmith says:

    Sarah’s act may be difficult for some to appreciate. It’s not ordinary comedy, it’s more along the lines of Andy Kaufman. If you can let go of conventional ideas about stand-up, you’ll get it. You still might not think it amusing, but at least you’ll understand what she’s trying to do.

  36. Jeanne says:

    She’s way over-rated; there’s lots of other women comedians who are funnier.

  37. whatevs says:

    Woah, I’m not getting that.

  38. Baholicious says:

    @OMG…I was being sarcastic to a point.

  39. Ashley says:

    The UK has lots of funny comedians, not just Russell Brand. You’d be surprised there are many Brits who don’t like him.

    And I agree with the UK audience, she does suck. Not funny at all.

  40. Genevieve says:

    I love the Sarah Silverman show. I think it’s pretty brilliant. But when she’s doing stand-up I just don’t get her. So for me she’s good when it’s a scripted show, & yes I know she writes the show. But not so good when she’s live.

  41. slim says:

    she’s a cute girl who tells scat jokes and talks about pot … she’s a gimmick. not funny — not in my u.s., anyway.

  42. Jackson Shea says:

    I have to agree, she’s not funny in America either.

  43. drew hay says:

    Here here. I keep giving this woman a chance but she has one act, I appear to be attractive but oops, look what came out of my mouth! She uses the excuse of being jewish to tap into racial jokes, the lowest common denominator. The problem is even those aren’t funny. Then she proceeds to say something like I pooped in my butt or my p**** itches. You would expect that out of a homeless person or an old whore but regardless of who says it its not funny. All the silverman apologists say those who don’t find her funny are just too PC. Nope, we just prefer wit, snappy lines, maybe a new concept. save the poop and fart jokes and women with a penis for maybe scary movie 5 or maybe middle school. Anyone over 14 who finds this woman humorous is perpetuating the stereotype of the dumb american, and that IS offensive. I’m all for women comedians, so don’t think its that and you can be a man, woman, dog and if poop jokes and racial slurs are your A-material, hang it up.

  44. CPB says:

    Damn right. You tell her, England. Overrated as hell. Russell Brand sucks too, but there’s no need to drag him into this as well.

  45. Adam says:

    Men arbor? I’d rather be around a tomboy whose one of the guys than be around a girly girl who’s a bitch. And you are certainly proving yourself to be a bitch.

  46. bobodole says:

    lmao haha. I hate her humor it sucks I’m glad she got boo’d off stage.

  47. laura says:

    Adam, She’s not a tomboy. She’s a catty woman who is vicious to women that threaten her, and sleeps with men that will help her.

  48. Jon says:

    Am I a bit late? Sorry…
    Only been looking into Silverman for 2 years now & I already know pretty much all of the stand up jokes & can recite them all in about 45 mins. It’s the same thing over & over again. The new stuff is a variation of the old stuff. Yeah, looks like something’s gone since Kimmel went.
    I find her interesting if I suspend my intelligence. What an insult to British audiences her show must’ve been but it seems that it was just a promo for a DVD. Americans seem to think that Britain is so small that one gig breaks them into our comedy scene. How ignorant! & there you have it….ignorance. There’s the problem.