May 31, 2016
Brooklyn’s 50 Funniest People: Allison Silverman
If you ever watched TV and laughed, Allison Silverman probably wrote it or produced it. The Office, Portlandia, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, The Colbert Report, Late Night With Conan O’Brien, The Daily Show, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (cringe, legacy points), and The Oscars (2014) are all tucked neatly under her belt.
Yep, this means she’s been around awhile—it means she lives with her husband and two kids in a massive Williamsburg loft (top floor, five kinds of reclaimed wood, “powder room,” patio off the dining room), a loft that appears in every single Brooklyn equivalent of Town & Country. But it also means she kept a “Weeklong Electronic Journal” for Slate in 2001, has referred to the internet as “the Web,” and made one of the first-ever tattoos-and-kale-are-so-Brooklyn jokes in The New Yorker.
The other thing about being around for so long is the amount of times she’s been asked, “what’s it like being the only woman in a room full of hilarious men?” (approximately once every day for 15 years) and how nice it must be that I can finally write about her and say, simply, “Allison Silverman is one of the most influential writers in TV comedy.”
When was the first time you remember making someone laugh? What happened?
I have an early memory of a long night of giggling with my cousin. We invented this character—she was a bean named Hashi and the joke was that everyone asked too much of her. We spent the night coming to her defense. “What do you want from her? She’s a bean!”
What is the toughest part about being on the comedy scene in Brooklyn today? What is the best?
I’m never actually on the scene. I have two very young kids, so at night I’m usually scrubbing poop out of the bathtub. Add that to the list of things they never tell you about being a mother: how much you poop in the tub.
Who do you find funny?
I don’t get to see a lot of live comedy, unfortunately. But, fellow Brooklynite Emily Altman (who I wrote with on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) is hysterical. On TV, I always look forward to seeing Lauren Ash, who plays these oddballs who are overconfident and a little tough.
What was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
I can’t remember, but I’m sure it was in a writers room between 1 and 3 a.m.
What are your goals for your comedy career?
I want to get America to Mars by 2020.
And finally: What is your favorite knock-knock (or otherwise goofy) joke?
This is a joke that depends on visuals, but it is my favorite so hopefully it will translate. A guy runs over a cat. He feels terrible. There’s a house nearby, so he walks up and knocks on the door. A woman answers. He says, “I’m really sorry, but I think I ran over your cat.” The woman says, “what did it look like?” The guy goes (here the joke-teller makes an awful squashed cat face). The woman says, “no, before you ran over it.” The guy goes (here the joke-teller puts up his hands like paws and opens his eyes and mouth wide in shock and terror at an oncoming car).
To see 49 more of Brooklyn’s funniest people, click here.
Photo by Nicolas Maloof.
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Brooklyn Magazine is looking for Brooklyn’s 50 most fascinating people