Melissa Villaseñor is taking a note from Sarah Silverman on making award show jokes — and, eventually, apologizing for them — at the 2021 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
As host of the ceremony, Villaseñor opened the program with a sketch that saw her on a Zoom call seeking Independent Spirit Awards hosting tips from fellow comics John Mulaney, Silverman and Kate McKinnon — all played by Villaseñor, of course.
“Timing is everything,” Villaseñor, as the video game-playing Silverman, said. “Set up, punchline, apologize. But that’ll come 17 years from now. And make sure you let the audience laugh. That’s what they’re there for.”
The line seemed to reference Silverman recently apologizing to Hilton in March for a “not nice” joke the comedian made about the socialite onstage at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards.
In February, Silverman also expressed regret about jokes she made about Britney Spears during the same award show, writing on Twitter that “art changes over (years) as we know more & the world changes…I wish I could delete it but I can’t.”
During the 2007 awards show, Silverman cracked a NSFW joke about Hilton’s time in prison. Hilton was sentenced that year to 45 days in jail for violating probation in an alcohol-related reckless driving case and famously checked herself into prison hours after attending the award show.
Hilton recalled the hurtful quip on her podcast, saying that Silverman was “just publicly humiliating me, being so mean, so cruel.”
During an episode of “The Sarah Silverman Podcast,” the comedian apologized to Hilton, saying she “felt awful” about the joke and could see Hilton’s pain that night from the stage.
“While I was thrilled at the success of my monologue, I remember spotting her in the audience,” the comedian said. “I really do. And I remember seeing that look on her face, and my heart sank, because there was a person under there.”
The comedian, revealing she wrote a letter to Hilton apologizing at the time, extended another apology to Hilton.
“So, here I am, 14 years later, telling you, Paris, that I am really sorry,” she said. “I was then and I am, much more completely and with far more understanding I think, now. I can’t imagine what you were going through at the time. My understanding of humanity through the lens of my work as a comedian had not yet merged, and I’m sorry I hurt you.”
Hilton later returned to her own podcast to accept Silverman’s apology and say she looks forward to “a clean, fresh slate” with the comedian.
“Thank you,” Hilton said. “I really, really appreciate you doing that. I know it’s difficult for anyone to apologize, and for someone to do that really means a lot.”
Paris Hilton accepts Sarah Silverman’s apology for ‘not nice’ joke at 2007 MTV Movie Awards