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Silverman to headline Wynn Las Vegas for first time

Updated August 29, 2022 - 2:50 pm

We run into Sarah Silverman randomly, every few years in Las Vegas. There was the night she was roaming the ballroom promenade at Caesars Palace during the short-lived Comedy Festival in 2007. She was with Jimmy Kimmel (her boyfriend at the time) and Jeff Ross, heading to a midnight performance.

We caught her at The Pearl at the Palms a few years ago, when she found herself in a protracted discussion with an audience member near the front of the stage. “Don’t make me do what you know I can do,” the comic warned, but she never did have the individual tossed.

Silverman was also an unbilled guest comic at the opening of Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Club at The Linq Promenade in June 2019, supporting the launch of his new venue. Sadly, for comedy fans, the club has not reopened since the COVID-19 shutdown.

But Silverman is back, appearing at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas in “Sarah Silverman and Friends” on Sept. 4. The comic and actor hosts the mirthsome “Sarah Silverman Podcast,” among her many TV and film credits.

John Katsilometes: It seems we bump into each other a lot in Vegas. One night I saw you at Lucky’s 24/7 Cafe at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Sarah Silverman: I love that place, for some reason, maybe it’s because I have the palate of a 10-year-old …

It’s closed now, though. The hotel is now Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

Oh! I am out of the loop on my Vegas news!

Anyway, I walked over and said, “You’re Sarah Silverman, right? I’m a journalist here and I’ve interviewed you.” And you said, “I get that all the time! I wish! She’s soooo gorgeous!”

Ha ha! Yes! That is my fallback in those situations.

My date says to me, “I thought you knew her?

Oh, please tell me that’s not where it ended.

We figured it out. It was very funny. People were watching from other tables. We were both there to see Dice Clay that night.

So funny. That was a fun night.

Coming in to the Encore Theater, and having headlined here over the years, are you developing any Vegas-specific material?

Um, no. That would be smart, though, right? (Laughs.) I never think to do that. If something Vegas-y happens, to reflect what I’m doing at the time, I would refer to it. But Vegas is so different from any other place you can play, because it’s always awake. It’s always happening. The sun never seems to go down, you know? I work my act and don’t consciously do anything different. Just by being there, with an audience from everywhere, it is different.

The last time I saw you do a full set was at the Palms, and you did a lot of crowd work. More than I had anticipated.

I wish I could go back and look at that, because I love crowd work, but I’m terrible at crowd work. I end up having a million questions about the people I’m looking at, because I am so interested in people. I wish I was better at crowd work.

Who is good at crowd work?

Like, a Tig Notaro, or a Todd Barry. They are great. I stink at it. I really want to work at it.

This is the first time you’ve played the Encore Theater, where several top stand-ups have headlined. I’ve seen Sebastian Maniscalco there, Jim Gaffigan. You’ve said before you prefer clubs. What are your thoughts about a proper theater?

I just want a really good room where the focus is on the stage, there is good sound. You know, if there’s a stool, a glass of water, I’m happy. But when I’m on the road, I’ll maybe do music to bookend the experience — music when people are being seated and when they are leaving. The ambience is important. I like going to sound check, even though there isn’t much for a comic to do during sound check. But I can get a feel for the room that way.

Jimmy has lent his name to a club in Vegas, and Brad Garrett operates his venue at the MGM Grand. Would you ever do something like that, manage a comedy club here?

I don’t know. It’s never occurred to me. But I do love the idea of a stand-up comedian having a club, because only comics know what comics need. It’s so funny how many clubs open with no consultation to comedians. In a club, you want a low ceiling, a shallower audience that gets kind of wide and not too deep. The stage isn’t too high, just higher than the audience. The sound has to be impeccable. Those are the big wants and needs.

Two-drink minimum, with the cover?

The Comedy Cellar in New York has a three-drink maximum — a maximum! It’s so unheard of because drinks are a comedy club’s bread and butter in so many ways. But a maximum is deferential to the comedians, because having a wasted crowd sucks. It sucks for the comic, and it sucks for the audience.

So at Club Silverman, we’d have a two-drink minimum but three-drink maximum? Thread that needle?

Yeah! I love that. It just moved me so much when the Comedy Cellar put up the maximum. It’s like, finally, someone is showing respect to the comedians. This isn’t a bar. It’s a show.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.