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Sarah Silverman Is ‘Lucky To Be Alive’

In a Facebook post, Sarah Silverman wrote about a ‘freak case of epiglottitis’ that landed her in the ICU of a Los Angeles hospital. Then, she told a penis joke.

Rachel Shukert
July 07, 2016
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Sarah Silverman performs at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, California, March 9, 2016. Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Sarah Silverman performs at the Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles, California, March 9, 2016. Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Very recently, the world as we know it almost fell apart. No, I’m not talking about the Brexit vote, although the absence of leadership in its aftermath is certainly alarming. Nor am I speaking about the sudden and terrifying rise of Donald Trump and his brand of American fascism (I’ll get to that tomorrow, so stay tuned!). And I’m also not talking about the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by the hands of police officers that has once again brought police brutality into the national spotlight. I have faith we can overcome, together.

No, the world as we know it almost fell apart when I learned of another terrible event, a trauma mercifully avoided, which none of us knew about until now: Sarah Silverman, American princess (notice the word I left out, because I am actually being completely earnest right now), and the unofficial mascot of this column, almost died last week. To Silverman, what seemed like a bad sore throat turned out to be a case of acute epiglottitis, an inflammation of the flap at the back of the tongue which can block airways and cause asphyxiation in a matter of minutes.

As she explained on her Facebook page on Wednesday, Silverman was rushed to Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles where she underwent emergency surgery and intubation, and spent a surreal five days drifting in and out of lucidity. Although, this being Sarah Silverman, it wasn’t all terror and tears. “I couldn’t speak for a while and I don’t remember a lot of my ‘lucid’ time, but Amy (the Zvi) told me I stopped a nurse—like it was an emergency—furiously wrote down a note and gave it to her. When she looked at it, it just said, “Do you live with your mother?” next to a drawing of a penis.”

First of all, Nurse, if you’re looking to sell, please message me. I never win at eBay auctions, but I’m sure we can come to some kind of equitable private arrangement. Second, the sheer ludicrousness and irreverence of this gesture, even from a basically sleepwalking Silverman, is precisely the reason I’m so freaked out we could have lost her.

The world right now is more chaotic and menacing than I can remember at any other point in my lifetime, and we need the people who make us laugh so we forget we’re scared. I mean, what if something, God forbid, happened to John Oliver? Samantha Bee? Where would all that spluttering, disbelieving fury go? In desperate times, our comedians play a more important role than ever.

Thankfully, Sarah Silverman is safe for now, which makes me feel okay about pointing out that hers would have been the least rock n’ roll and therefore most Jewish premature death of a comedian of all time (dying from basically an overblown throat infection probably brought on by season allergies). I hope she feels better and Michael Sheen brings her lots of chicken soup. We need her.

Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.