Turns out it wasn't the Greek. That's not the point though... The point is that I never quite found myself truly captivated by Silverman's performance in spite of the fact that I've enjoyed her acting and comedy in the past.
There's no question that Sarah Silverman has quite a lot of talent. As she delivers her stark and unwashed comedy routine she shows what a great way she has with delivery, comic timing and those indispensable facial expressions that manage to sell a joke. However, what I didn't find accompanying her to the stage was a whole lot of terribly good material. In its place, "The Big S" threw in as much potentially controversial and potentially offensive material, more apt to generate the nervous laughter of an uneasy audience than the true guffaws that only great jokes can bring forth. I often found myself thinking that Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic just might be the perfect comedy film for deaf people, provided it's watched without subtitles.
Not to be too terribly harsh here, it's true that Silverman occasionally hits the mark with her undeniable delivery. The formula appears to be: Take a routine subject, then throw it in a bizarre, racist or politically incorrect light, throw in the word "Penis" or "Pussy" as punctuation, pause for laughter, then add in a final clincher that brings things further into the insane. This method evokes images of Silverman standing on the three point line and lobbing balls at the comic basket and hoping one or two make it in. One or two do, and I'll admit to laughing out loud occasionally. Many others hit the backboard, the rim, or somebody's car in a nearby lot.
Those jokes that do hit the bulls-eye are usually belabored until the cow is milked dry, then sent to the butcher's shop. This proves true again with Sarah's musical interludes, which feature some pretty damned good music (performed by her band "the Silver Men") and some uniquely twisted lyrics that manage to be pretty funny. However, the same jokes are recycled from her stage routine, sometimes multiple times in the same song. Those that are new are repeated until the song, and the film is well padded out. Witnessing a song about Porn sung by a woman as hot as Sarah Silverman (and she is pretty damned hot) should be a tittilating experience... but it doesn't quite make the proverbial basket... or "pussy" as the case may be.
The playfully silly introductory act makes the joke that Sarah has written the whole thing that day. She calls it a musical about the Holocaust and Aids, but funny. She's mostly right, and mostly believable. It seems that she's taking great pains to make a project out of being controversial, pumping in as many "dangerous" jokes as possible to fill the void left by Lenny Bruce. That void hasn't ever really existed as about a million others dive right in every year.
But, if you're curious, and I most certainly was, nothing is sacred, from September 11, 2001 to the Holocaust to Aids, to Jesus jokes, to death, to rape, to Martin Luther King, to gays to an act of oral sex reminding Silverman of her mother. It seemed that she wanted desperately to be offensive, to bait the audience into either laughing maniacally or getting up and walking out. Being in on her constant dare, I wasn't interested in being baited and, as a Catholic Liberal, am about as easy to offend as a shark is easy to teach to speak. What I was interested in was laughing, and I didn't get quite enough of that. I got the jokes, I wasn't truly ever offended, and I still didn't laugh more than 10% of the time.
But Silverman is never boring, and even when she hits a sour note (figuratively and literally) she manages to be both cute and fun to watch. But she also gives the very strong impression that she's actually capable of so much more than this.
Again, though, comedy is a very subjective thing, and what doesn't work for me, might fill your tea cup with sperm. Who knows. I would certainly recommend this film for at the very least, an attempt, especially if you like, or can handle jokes about Jesus, Aids, Hitler, 9/11 and more insults to African Americans than a skinhead pool party. In that Silverman herself is Jewish, I'm guessing those swimming smash boopies couldn't even cuddle up to her. Subjective or not, I'm going with Two Stars out of Five for Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic. I was pleased enough to try her out again, and I'm sure that with her talents the right material will really work for her. For those of you who feel that she's already there with this very performance, I urge you to stay through the credits, during which outtakes and over-the-top funny moments form a montage that works at least as well as the rest of the show. There's a lot more to see there than just where it was filmed. If you disagree, don't be offended... I'll just have my understudy review her next outing!
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