Culture

Sarah Silverman Admits She Made Up a Wage-Gap Story, Then Calls Critics ‘Maniacs’

“To the maniacs who want to use this as a chit against women’s issues, I ask that you please don’t."

Comedian Sarah Silverman admitted that a story she told about wage discrimination (in which she even went so far as to call out a specific employer by name) was a lie — and then said people who might consider her lie a reason to question the movement she was supporting were “maniacs.”

In an April 6 wage-discrimination-activism video for Levo League, Silverman accused New York Comedy Club owner Al Martin of having paid her less than a male comic for doing the same work:

“I was out with my friend Todd Barry and we were doing sets around town together, and I was pretty well-known already, and we both did back-to-back 15-minute sets at this club, the New York Comedy Club, and he paid me 10 bucks . . . and we were outside talking and Todd somehow brought up that he, you know, mentioned that he got 60 bucks,” she said.

“So I went back inside and I asked the owner Al Martin and I said, ‘Al, why did you pay me $10 and you paid Todd Barry $60?’ And he, it was so perfect,” Silverman continued, laughing. “He goes, ‘Oh, did you want a $60 spot?’ It was symbolic, I didn’t need $60, but, you know it was pretty s****y.”

Wow! “Pretty s****y” indeed! Just one problem: That didn’t actually happen.

#related#As Martin explained to PJ Media on Tuesday, Barry’s set was a booked job, while Silverman’s was just a last-minute guest spot (read: expected to be unpaid regardless of gender) that he let her have as a favor — and the $10 was cab fare he gave her just to be extra nice.

In other words: He definitely didn’t pay her less for the same job, because the set she did that night wasn’t even a job at all.

In a statement to Salon, Silverman admitted that she had made the whole thing up and apologized to Martin:

“My regret is that I mentioned Al by name — it should have been a nameless, faceless anecdote and he has always been lovely to me,” she said.

“This is also HARDLY an example of the wage gap and can only do that very true reality a terrible disservice if I were trying to make it one,” she said. “When I was interviewed by Levo, they asked me ‘Do you remember a time you were paid less for the same job’ and this story, being just that, popped into my head.”

Notice that the only thing she explicitly said she regrets is not trying harder to not get caught. In fact, she didn’t even acknowledge that she did a “disservice” to the movement by telling a false story — only that it would be a disservice “if [she] were trying” to make the story an example of the wage gap when it wasn’t one. (For the record, specifically citing something as an example of the wage gap seems like a pretty clear instance of trying to make it an example of the wage gap.)

Silverman ended her statement by saying that people who might see an advocate having lied about a movement as a reason to question that movement’s message — something I’d consider a normal response — were “maniacs.”

“To the maniacs who want to use this as a chit against women’s issues, I ask that you please don’t,” she said. “Because that would be super s****y.”

I guess calling people “maniacs” for criticizing a cause could be one way to show you support it, but I can think of some better ones — like, you know, not going out and doing something that undermines it.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online

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