Sarah Silverman went from hosting a political show to one about pets. Here's why

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Sarah Silverman didn't have to think hard when David Letterman asked if she was interested in hosting the new show "Stupid Pet Tricks."

“I was like, yes. Oh, my God. Yes. A million times,” she jokes.

The series was inspired by a fan-favorite segment on Letterman’s late night talk show, which ended in 2015. In each clip, an animal (and their owner) attempted to perform a simple trick on live television, with hilariously varying results.

Letterman's animal guests included a skateboarding rabbit, a pickpocket dog, and a horse who could fetch his own drink from the fridge.

Now, “Stupid Pet Tricks” has been revived as a standalone show, with Letterman as executive producer and Silverman as the host. The expanded version spends more time with the animals and their human companions.

Aside from the furry, fluffy, and flying guest stars of “Stupid Pet Tricks,” Silverman brought in several fellow comedians and actors, including Jon Hamm, Jack McBrayer, Judd Apatow, Reggie Watts, Jeff Ross, Charlotte McKinney, and Howie Mandel.

“I never want to do things where I have to ask friends for favors,” Silverman says. “But I did ask for this!”

She opens up to about cute animals, career pivots, and the logistics of getting a camel on live television.

“Stupid Pet Tricks” premiered on Sunday, Feb. 11, at 5 p.m, and subsequent episodes will air Mondays at 9 p.m. on TBS.

Sarah Silverman on Stupid Pet Tricks (Tyler Golden / TBS)
Sarah Silverman on Stupid Pet Tricks (Tyler Golden / TBS)

Silverman is a lifelong animal lover

Ever since witnessing the death of a Thanksgiving turkey as a child, Silverman has been a vegetarian, with a brief attempt at veganism in 2021.

"I don’t understand people that don’t love animals," she says. "The more I spend time experiencing animals and nature, the more I contemplate human existence."

Silverman has been open about her love for her own pets. She penned a long tribute to her beloved dog, Duck, when he passed in 2014 at 14.

"I remember when I finally had to put him to sleep, I got the vet to come to my house to do it. And I was like, bring two needles! You know, I couldn't imagine life without him," she says.

Silverman has since adopted two more dogs.

"They always got along fine, but now they are inseparable and they sleep in a little tiny pile," she says.

Working with the animal guest stars on "Stupid Pet Tricks" presented a few extra challenges — without spoiling too much, absorbent rugs came in handy on set.

What, exactly, is a stupid pet trick?

The tricks featured on the show range from simple — a cat who can high-five — to jaw-dropping, like a high-jumping dog.

And if you're wondering how on earth a camel made it onto a studio stage, you're not alone. The camel, Silverman says, was ushered in via the studio's "elephant door," a type of stage door big enough to fit a ... well, elephant.

Silverman explains that the backstage crew of "Stupid Pet Tricks" was careful about ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the animal guest stars.

Sarah Silverman on Stupid Pet Tricks (Tyler Golden / TBS)
Sarah Silverman on Stupid Pet Tricks (Tyler Golden / TBS)

“I was very concerned about working with animals and doing everything right,” Silverman says. “And we really did, we had people on set that were like, ‘The cat’s tired. Move on to something else.’”

“People have to be calm,” she continues. “And we had to definitely behave in a way that was best for the animals.”

Silverman isn't necessarily looking for the next Lassie.

“I’m just trying to find the most fun, really great, unbelievable tricks mixed with pets just like you and I have," she says.

In fact, amateur animals will have a chance to showcase their abilities at events hosted by the "Stupid Pet Tricks Tour." Pets will have the opportunity to audition for the show at each tour stop. The tour began on Feb. 3, and is scheduled to visit five cities: Tampa, FL, Dallas, TX, Austin, TX, Longmont, CO, and Brevard, NC.

She wants to create a show for everyone

Beyond her eponymous sitcom "The Sarah Silverman Show," which ran on Comedy Central from 2007 to 2010, Silverman is known for a plethora of projects.

Silverman voiced Vanellope von Schweetz in the 2012 Disney film "Wreck it Ralph," hosted late-night talk show "I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman" in 2017, launched "The Sarah Silverman Podcast" during the pandemic, and adapted her memoir "The Bedwetter" into an off-Broadway musical in 2022.

Sarah Silverman on Stupid Pet Tricks (Tyler Golden / TBS)
Sarah Silverman on Stupid Pet Tricks (Tyler Golden / TBS)

Her most recent comedy special "Someone You Love" premiered on Max last year.

"Stupid Pet Tricks," though, may strike some as a tonal departure from Silverman's previous material — but Silverman says it's on brand.

“It’s extremely low brow, and that’s my joy," she says.

Silverman says that "Stupid Pet Tricks" is intended to be watched by the whole family, comparing it to shows like "Sesame Street" and "The Muppet Show."

“It’s for people my age, with my sense of humor, and their kids," Silverman says. "It’s absolutely OK for kids, but there are going to be things that only the adults understand."

Hosting a family-friendly show about pets may seem like an unconventional choice for Silverman, who is known for her sharp, raunchy sense of humor.

She's no stranger to hard-hitting topics, either: Silverman discussed current events and personal stories with a variety of guests on "I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman."

Sarah Silverman on Stupid Pet Tricks (Tyler Golden / TBS)
Sarah Silverman on Stupid Pet Tricks (Tyler Golden / TBS)

"I’m hoping with this show to connect with un-like-minded people," Silverman said of the show in a 2017 interview.

With "Stupid Pet Tricks," Silverman is taking a different approach.

“I wanted to do something that was for everyone," she says. "And I was so excited to turn my brain off to any thing political. And in that way, it is political, because I wanted to do a show for everyone."

Silverman wrote a short, one-line theme song that plays at the end of every episode. The lyrics were inspired by Silverman's penchant for watching videos about unlikely animal friendships.

"If they can get along, we can get along," she sings.

At the end of the day, she says, "we’re all connected."

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