Sarah Silverman Just Apologized to Paris Hilton for This Old Offensive Joke

The comedian reflected on a joke she told at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards.

A lot has changed in recent years regarding the treatment of celebrities, including how they're questioned in interviews, how they're talked about in tabloids, and how they're discussed by comedians, too. Now—in the wake of her 2020 documentary This Is Paris and the heightened attention on our treatment of young female celebrities due to a 2021 Britney Spears documentary—Paris Hilton has returned to the spotlight, discussing what she endured in the early aughts. The 40-year-old star has recently talked about an uncomfortable interview she had with David Letterman after her time in jail in 2007, as well as another offensive radio interview from 2011. Hilton also spoke out about Sarah Silverman making fun of her prison sentence when the comedian was hosting the 2007 MTV Movie Awards. Now, Silverman has apologized to Hilton for her joke, and says she regretted it from the moment it happened.

Read on to see what the regrettable moment was, what Silverman has to say about Hilton now, and how Hilton responded to the apology. And for more on Hilton's recent look back on her time in the spotlight, check out This Resurfaced Paris Hilton Radio Interview Has Fans in an Uproar.

Hilton attended the 2007 MTV Movie Awards hours before her jail time began.

Paris Hilton at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards
s_bukley /

In Jan. 2007, Hilton had been sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to enter an alcohol education class after being arrested in Sept. 2006 for driving under the influence. Then, in May 2007, Hilton was sentenced to 45 days in jail for violating her probation by driving without a valid license. Shortly thereafter, the MTV Movie Awards were held on June 3, 2007, and Hilton attended even though she was set to begin her jail time right after the show. Later that month, she was released after serving half of the sentence. At this point in time, the fifth and final season of Hilton's hit show The Simple Life was airing.

Read more about celebs in the aughts with The Biggest '00s TV Teen Idols, Then and Now.

While hosting the MTV Movie Awards, Silverman joked about Hilton's sentence and her sex life.

Presenter Sarah Silverman speaks during the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards at The Palms Hotel and Casino on September 9, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
John Shearer/WireImage

At the awards show, Silverman joked about Hilton in her monologue. "Paris Hilton is going to jail," Silverman said to immediate cheers from the crowd. "I heard that to make her feel more comfortable in prison, the guards are going to paint the bars to look like penises. I just worry that she's going to break her teeth on those things." The camera showed Hilton during the joke and she was clearly upset by the comment.

For more on another celebrity's treatment by the media, check out This Diane Sawyer Interview With Britney Spears Has People Outraged.

Hilton spoke about the experience on her podcast recently.

Paris Hilton arrives for the 2019 REVOLVE Awards on November 15, 2019 in Los Angeles, CA
DFree / Shutterstock

During the Mar. 1 episode of her podcast, This Is Paris, the host and her sister, Nicky Hilton, spoke about some of the past media treatment young stars like themselves faced in the 2000s. Nicky brought up Silverman's joke as an example of something that wouldn't happen today. "What Sarah Silverman did was so disgusting and so cruel and mean," Hilton responded. "And I was so shocked and surprised, because I had actually met her a few years before when I was at an event and she couldn't have been nicer. So sweet."

Hilton said that she was "obviously very nervous" the night of the award show, because she knew she was going to check herself into jail in a couple of hours, but she wanted to put on a brave face. "And then just to sit in the audience with her just literally publicly humiliating me, being so mean, so cruel. I was sitting there, wanting to die," Hilton said. "I was trying to hold back my tears so hard. … I wanted to run out of the entire room."

And for another early 2000s moment gaining attention now, check out This Resurfaced Oprah Interview With Mary-Kate and Ashley Has Fans Livid.

Silverman said she wrote Hilton a letter after the show to say she was sorry, and apologized again, 14 years later.

Sarah Silverman hosting her podcast
The Sarah Silverman Podcast/YouTube

On her own podcast, The Sarah Silverman Podcast, on Mar. 4, Silverman said that she heard what Hilton had to say. She said she is "super down with reflecting on the past and my part in perpetuating real ugly s***" while taking into account growth that has happened over one's life, too. "I did not know that she was coming to the event, which is neither here nor there, but just the truth. I didn't know also that she would be going directly from the event to jail that night," Silverman said.

"While I was thrilled at the success of my monologue, I remember spotting her in the audience," she continued. "I remember seeing that look on her face and my heart sank, because there was a person under there."

Silverman said she wrote Hilton a letter apologizing a couple of days after the show, but she didn't know that Hilton hadn't received it until hearing Hilton's podcast. "Here I am, 14 years later, telling you, Paris, that I am really sorry," Silverman 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 that time."

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This time, Hilton received the message and said it "really moved" her.

Paris Hilton hosting her podcast
Paris Hilton/Instagram

After hearing Silverman's apology, Hilton released a short episode of her podcast to address it. She said she was "pleasantly surprised" when she heard that Silverman had apologized. "I wasn't expecting an apology. I wasn't asking for one," Hilton said.

"She basically made an eight-and-a-half minute apology to me. And she was so genuine and so sweet, and it really moved me. I felt emotional hearing it," Hilton said. She also confirmed that she never received the letter from Silverman back in 2007.

Hilton said that she did always think Silverman was funny when she wasn't making jokes that made fun of people. "It's nice to hear that she's had a lot of time to reflect on that, as well. Not just my situation with her, but other situations, as well," Hilton said.

And for more on young women navigating fame, find out How Mary-Kate & Ashley Stopped Elizabeth Olsen From Being a Child Star.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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