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"I would never do those jokes today."

Olivia Harvey
Mar 05, 2021 @ 10:07 am
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Credit: Karwai Tang / Contributor, Emma McIntyre /AMA2020 / Contributor, Getty Images

The year is 2007 and Sarah Silverman is hosting the MTV Movie Awards. Being known for her cringe comedy style and berating jokes at the time, audiences expected Silverman to deliver punches straight to guts of celebs attending the event—one of whom was Paris Hilton, who had just been sentenced to jail time for a probation violation and was set to begin serving promptly after the show concluded. Knowing what we know now about how Hilton was treated by the media in the early-2000s, she was obviously the easiest of targets for Silverman to pick on, and the crowd got exactly what they wanted from Silverman's set.

"Paris Hilton is going to jail," Silverman said in her opening monologue. "I heard that to make her feel more comfortable in prison, the guards are going to paint the bars to look like penises. I just worry that she's going to break her teeth on those things."

After delivering the uncomfortable punchline, the camera cut to Hilton's reaction, which, well, wasn't good.

Nearly 15 years after this one liner aired, Hilton still remembers the sting it caused, and brought it up on a recent episode of her podcast, This is Paris. Once Silverman was made aware of the fact that the hurt she caused remained, she took to her own podcast, The Sarah Silverman Podcast, and apologized.

"As she said herself on the podcast, this would never happen today and she's right. I would never do those jokes today," Silverman said. "I've actually dedicated the past several years to trying to do comedy that attempts to marry hard-hitting jokes with, you know, actual heart."

Silverman recalled the night in question, and noted that she was unsure if Hilton would even be in attendance—"which is neither here nor there," Silverman clarified—but after she delivered the joke, and spotted Hilton in the audience, Silverman said her "heart sank because there was a person under there."

A few days later, Silverman wrote Hilton a letter to apologize. "I felt awful," she said, yet surmised that the letter never reached her.

"So here we are, in an awakened world, and I am totally into it. It's how we grow. It's how we change," Silverman said. "I'm super down with reflecting on the past and my part in perpetuating real ugly shit...I do believe that maybe that should be coupled with taking into account any growth that has come since those passing years."

Hilton took to her own podcast shortly after Silverman's apology went live, saying "I was just shocked when I read it at first, and pleasantly surprised."

"[Silverman] was so genuine and so sweet and it really moved me...and I could tell that she really did mean what she said when she was apologizing," Hilton continued. She then left Silverman the following message: "Thank you. I really, really appreciate you doing that."

Old wounds can heal, and this healing shows that growth is far better than cancel culture.