Freethought of the Day

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There are 2 entries for this date: Woody Allen and Sarah Silverman
Woody Allen

Woody Allen

On this date in 1935, director Woody Allen (né Allen Stewart Konigsberg), was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. His Jewish parents sent him to eight years of Hebrew school. "I am a Jew only in the sense that I was born into a Jewish family. I have no interest in the organized religions beyond a certain cerebral historical curiosity. They are all nonsense to me in their basic premises. . . . I'm agnostic, but I have one foot in atheism." (Interview by Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian Weekend, March 29, 1997, cited in Who's Who in Hell, edited by Warren Allen Smith.) He began selling gags to an agency serving newspaper columnists as a teenager. By 16, he was writing for Sid Caesar, and had started to call himself "Woody Allen." He briefly attended New York University, but dropped out to write scripts for television, such as the Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show. Allen won his first Emmy in 1957. He did stand-up comedy, then returned to writing, working for a time for "The Candid Camera." He wrote his first film, "What's New, Pussycat" in 1965, and directed his first film, "What's Up, Tiger Lily," in 1966. His first onscreen acting appearance was a bit part in the James Bond film, "Casino Royale" (1967). He began to write and direct a series of comic movies: "Take the Money and Run" (1969), "Bananas" (1971), "Play It Again, Sam" (1972), "Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask" (1972), "Sleeper" (1973), "Annie Hall" (1977), which won 4 Academy Awards, "Manhattan" (1979), "Stardust Memories" (1980), "Midsummer Nights Sex Comedy" (1982), and "Celebrity" (1998). His serious films include "Interiors" (1978), "Hannah & Her Sisters" (1986) and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989). The autobiographical "Stardust Memories" contains an Allen character who quips, "To you, I'm an atheist. To God, I'm the loyal opposition." In his book, Without Feathers (1975), Allen wrote: "How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?"

“Not only is there no God, but try getting a plumber on weekends.”

—Woody Allen, "My Philosophy," The New Yorker, Dec. 27, 1969 "

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; Photo by Andrea Raffin /

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Sarah Silverman

Sarah Silverman

On this date in 1970, Sarah Kate Silverman was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, into a secular Jewish home. Silverman acted in plays as a teen and first performed stand-up comedy at age 17. She attended New York University for a year and dropped out to work in New York City comedy clubs. Silverman worked as a writer and featured player on Saturday Night Live for the 1993-1994 season when she was only 21 years old. She was featured on “Mr. Show,” a sketch comedy show on HBO, from 1995-1997. In addition to numerous television appearances, Silverman appeared in films such as “There’s Something About Mary” (1998), “Heartbreakers” (2001), “The School of Rock” (2003), “Rent” (2005) and “The Muppets” (2011). Her film based on her stand-up, “Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic,” was released, with positive reviews, in 2005. “The Sarah Silverman Program” aired on Comedy Central between 2007 and 2010, and was one of the network’s highest rated shows. Silverman was nominated for an Emmy for her acting on the show in 2009. She won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics in 2008 for the short video she also starred in called “I’m Fucking Matt Damon,” which first aired on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Her memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee (2010), was a New York Times Best Seller. In a comic video first seen on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Silverman suggests to the Pope: “Sell the Vatican, take a big chunk of that money, build a gorgeous condominium for you and all of your friends to live in, all the amenities, swimming pool, tennis court, water slide. And with the money left over, feed the whole fucking world. You preach to live humbly, and I totally agree. So now maybe it's time for you to move out of your house that is a city” (viewed on HuffPost, 3/18/10). In an interview on “CNN Larry King Live,” Larry King asked Silverman if she was agnostic, to which she replied: “Yes, I'm agnostic. I don't know. I just don't know. I think people need religion because they need to know. They need to get their head around it. But you know, I don't know. I don't know what the answers are” (April 20, 2010).

“I'm so associated with being Jewish — and I do it myself — but I have no religion. . . . I wasn't raised with any religion, I have no religion. . . . ”

—Sarah Silverman, “Sarah Silverman Talks Peep World and Distancing Herself from 'Jewish Comedian Sarah Silverman,' ” by Jen Yamato in Movieline, March 25, 2011

Compiled by Bonnie Gutsch; Photo by Helga Esteb,

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