Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic

Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic


Reviewed by: Sarah Artt

Sarah Silverman would like you to feel uncomfortable with your white liberal guilt as she voices the sentiments of your most unwary racist relatives when they talk to their friends.

The film begins with the traditional conceit of the Hollywood musical (there is an echo of Grease with the flying red convertible car on which Sarah sings “I'll put on a show”). In the wake of her more successful friends, Sarah ill-advisedly announces that she is performing a show that very night, a musical about the Holocaust and AIDS “but, you know, funny”. Well, the musical about AIDS has already been done (John Greyson's 1991 effort Zero Patience) with a pair of singing assholes—rather than Silverman's finale of Amazing Grace, as she sings backed by the accomplished vocal stylings of her ladyflower and poopchute. Really, go see it if you don't believe me.

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On stage, Silverman appears to have the kind of colossal ego normally attributed to billionaire male executives and Tracey Emin. Because of this, Silverman dares to make jokes about rape, 9/11, dead grandmothers, the Holocaust, AIDS, and race and has the bravado to keep a straight face while doing it.

When she says to her audience, “I don't care if you think I'm racist. I just want you to think I'm thin,” you sense this, too, is part of the stage persona, which tends to mimic the poses of wealthy upper middle class white girls who have never stepped outside the gated community. However, there are elements of Silverman that I find appealing - her lack of any sense of contrived femininity, for one thing, as she engages in the kind of bodily humour that is normally the sole domain of male comics - unless you're talking about periods.

She jokes about the things we are all supposed to take seriously and which female comics rarely discuss. For example, Silverman has a routine where she claims she didn't lose her virginity until she was 26, “well, 19 vaginally, then later what my boyfriend calls 'the real way',” and then disavows that she has anal sex, “my anus is purely decorative.” Silverman's confessional style owes much to self-help culture, motivational speaking and quite possibly stage school (when she sings, she has the veneer of the highly polished child performer). The songs which punctuate the stand-up routine are about death, porn and the aforementioned rendition of Amazing Grace. Silverman's stage persona, finally convinced of her own beauty and talent, ends the film by making out with her own reflection in a scene which evokes pornography and perhaps, Sunset Boulevard.

Silverman lacks the intellectual bent of Janeane Garofalo “the crop top is our burqa”, but she shares some of the aggressive tackling of sexuality that can be found in the stand-up of Margaret Cho “CC Blooms - they should just call that place the Up My Ass bar and grill” and the critical, deadpan quality of the earlier work of Sandra Bernhardt. While Silverman isn't completely my kind of comedian (I infinitely prefer Cho) this is a good introduction to her stuff, as well as a treat for those who are already fans.

Reviewed on: 25 Jul 2008
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Comedienne Sarah Silverman muses on race, politics and America.
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Director: Liam Lynch

Writer: Sarah Silverman

Starring: Sarah Silverman, Brian Posehn, Laura Silverman, Bob Odenkirk

Year: 2005

Runtime: 76 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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