Why Sarah Silverman regrets decade-old jokes about Britney Spears, Paris Hilton

Raechal Shewfelt
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3-min read

Comedian Sarah Silverman has explained why she showed remorse in the past two months about years-old jokes she made targeting Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

The subject came up Wednesday when she appeared on SiriusXM's Comedy Gold Minds with Kevin Hart, and Hart asked how she felt about comedians apologizing for jokes that haven't aged well.

Sarah Silverman says
Sarah Silverman says "comedy isn't evergreen." (Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

"I could argue either side. Obviously, like two weeks in a row, I'm like apologizing for jokes I made about Britney Spears 14 years ago," Silverman said. "I'm apologizing for that. And you know what? Apologizing doesn't shame me. It doesn't scare me. It makes me feel free. I never understand how it's hard for people. I apologize when I'm sorry. I don't apologize when I'm not sorry, but I'm f**king sorry a lot because comedy isn't evergreen. And to that point, I'm not a bad person because I did a bad thing in the context of what we've learned in the world."

In the case of Spears, Silverman was called out on Twitter, in the wake of the February documentary Framing Britney Spears, for words she said at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards. It showed her making fun of Spears's career, the much-hyped performance she had just given and even her children. 

Silverman responded to one critic by saying, "MTV asked me to mini-roast Britney after her big performance. While she was performing I was having diarrhea & going over my jokes. Had no idea she didn't kill. Unfortunate. Art changes over yrs as we know more & the world changes."

Silverman added, "I wish I could delete it but I can't," and she asked the person confronting her why she was posting a clip of her performance for everyone to see again.

In March, Silverman publicly apologized to Hilton for her words at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards making light of the Simple Life star's recent arrest for an alcohol-related offense. What she hadn't known at the time is that Hilton would be sitting in the live audience — and that she would be going straight from the event to jail.

"And while I was, you know, thrilled at the success of my monologue, I remember spotting her in the audience. I really do," Silverman said on The Sarah Silverman Podcast. "And I remember seeing that look on her face, and my heart sank. Because there was a person under there."

Paris Hilton is projected on a big screen above the audience after Sarah Silverman's jokes about her at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. (Photo: Stephen Osman/Getty Images)
Paris Hilton is projected on a big screen above the audience after Sarah Silverman's jokes about her at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. (Photo: Stephen Osman/Getty Images)

She regretted the jokes immediately.

"And I wrote her to let her know, but I now know that letter didn't get to her," Silverman said. "So here I am, 14 years later, telling you, Paris, that I am really sorry. I was then, and I am much more completely, and with far more understanding, I think, now. I can't imagine what you were going through at that time. My understanding of humanity through the lens of my work as a comedian had not yet merged. And I'm sorry I hurt you. Comedy, you know, is not evergreen."

Silverman addressed the incident after Hilton herself spoke about it on her This Is Paris podcast.

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