Comedian Sarah Silverman, Twitter Controversy And Freedom Of Speech

By now you have probably heard about the controversial tweet that comedian Sarah Silverman made on Twitter regarding abortion.

While her tweet was satirical, apparently her tweet (with before and after pics of her mock abortion) has caused such a stir that some are speculating that the tweet she made may even jeopardize her chances of getting pick up for a new NBC TV show in development for the fall currently called “Susan 313”.

I’m not going to opine or speculate on the appropriateness or inappropriateness on Sarah Silverman’s Twitter post or about whether or not that should affect whether or not her TV show gets picked up or not.

Like they used to say when I was in the Navy – that sort of thing is well above my “pay grade”.

But here’s what I do know:

Comedians can (and should) have the widest possible range when it comes to freedom of speech. That is part of the artistic fabric that makes stand-up comedy what it is.


Once a comedian attains a certain level of notoriety and celebrity, their audience expands well beyond the audiences that see them perform and watch their TV shows.

When that happens, what they say and do can also affect existing fans and viewers, as well as potentially large numbers of future audience members, fans and TV viewers as well.

And while comedians may have the most leeway when it comes to freedom of speech…

Audiences (which includes the public at large who may not be direct fans or viewers) also have the freedom to not only to dismiss or ignore what a comedian does or says, but can also aggressively reject what a comedian says or does to the extent that the consequences are not favorable for the comedian, to put it mildly.

It is always the audiences (and the resulting public at large) that propels a comedian into celebrity status or keeps them there.

If a comedian offends a large enough segment of the population with what they say or do, they can severely diminish or even lose their celebrity status – not to mention high level employment as well.

One need only look to comedian Gilbert Gottfried who recently got fired from a sweet and easy job as the voice of the Aflac duck on TV commercials over posts he made on his Twitter page.

Bottom Line: Freedom of speech is not a one way road for any celebrity, comedians included.

Personally, if I were in Sarah Silverman’s shoes, having worked for years to get to where she is at in stand-up comedy, TV and building her celebrity status…

It would drive me to Prozac if I lost the opportunity to have my own show on a major broadcast network like NBC over a post I made on a social network like Twitter.

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