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Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (2005)

by on 2010/12/05

“I don’t care if you think I’m racist, I just want you to think I’m thin.”

* * *

When I carefully set aside a pile of movies from my film collection to review for Geek vs Goth’s December “holiday movies” theme, Sarah Silverman’s Jesus is Magic was the tiny, offensive star atop my eccentric, spindly holiday movie tree.

Since I’m more of a Halloween person than a December festive season, world religions kind of person, combing through my movie collection was a rather fruitless experience.  (And if you must know, yes, I selected Jesus is Magic because it had the name Jesus in the title).

Casting serious doubt upon my ability to understand the meaning of “holiday movie,” Jesus is Magic is a wind-knocked-out-of-you hilarious and controversial feature film of Sarah Silverman standup, musical numbers and skits. The central conceit of the piece is that Sarah, feeling bad about her friend’s successes, lies and tells them she’s written a sold-out show about the holocaust and AIDS that will be opening that same evening.

And yes, indeed the film is about the holocaust and AIDS …and racism, Hitler, slavery, adult films, interracial dating, waxing of down-below places, homosexuality and her grandma’s suspected murder. There are no sacred cows that Silverman won’t tip over.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a sample:

“I’m working on an open letter and it goes like this. Guess what, Martin Luther King, I had a f**kin’ dream, too! I had a dream that I was in my living room. It wasn’t my living room but it was, like, playing my living room in the dream. And I walked through to the backyard and there’s a pool and as I’m diving in, there’s a shark coming up from the water… with braces! So maybe you’re not so f**king special!”

Breathtakingly surreal.

As the film worn on, my laughter took on a kind of pained, involuntary quality, the desperate sound you might make when you are being tickled to death by a large man. I didn’t want to laugh but I couldn’t at all help it.

I’ve admired Silverman’s work in a number of vehicles prior to viewing Jesus is Magic, including the Larry Sander’s Show (1992-1998) and Greg the Bunny (the short-lived 2002 TV series where Silverman was woefully mis- or underused). She is the rarest of all comedians, a gorgeous, sparkly, jet-black-haired hot girl with a perfect smile who is painfully, outrageously, disturbingly funny. Whoever said women, and particularly lovely women, can’t be funny, haven’t seen this film.

Silverman uses her attractiveness as a decided advantage, channelling ditzy, empty-headed insensitivity for laughs. “The events of Sept. 11 were particularly devastating… especially for me, because that was the same exact day that I found out the Soy Chai Latte was 900 calories.”

Ms. Silverman is a truly brave and um, complicated woman. I am significantly less brave so I’ve decided not to share any of the other bits I found funny because, seeing them in the stark written word, well, that’s just too edgy. You really had to be there.

Particularly funny are the behind-the-scenes vignettes when Sarah visits the green room before, during and after the show. We see Silverman spewing bottled water on her obsequious manager because it “tastes thick” then melting down Mariah Carey-style, demanding Fiji water.

Her comedy or “learn-medy” as she terms it, raises increasingly more and more uncomfortable questions about the nature of racism, homophobia and sexism every moment you watch. My only concern is that I hope those who watch Jesus is Magic recognize the layered irony of her work. Taking her material in earnest and quoting pieces from her routine out of context, would be a little like watching the horror show of right-wing frat boys singing the anthems from Bob Roberts (1992), the infamous fictional story of a folk-singing, right-wing candidate for the U.S. Senate. “Don’t smoke crack. It’s a ghetto drug.”

I will leave you now with a few words from Ms. Sarah:

“Who cares? Different religions. I guess the only time it’s an issue I suppose would be if you’re having a baby, you have to figure out how you want to raise your baby or whatever, which still would not be an issue for us. Because you know, we’d just be honest, and say “Mommy is one of the chosen people, and Daddy believes that Jesus is magic.”

Happy Holidays.

* * *

Promotional trailer (NSFW):

Unrated.  Please, please, please don’t show this to your children until they have received a post-secondary degree from a respected university.

72 minutes

  1. I’ve never found Silverman anything other than offensive, and this “review” only confirms my opinion of her and her so-called “comedy.”

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Videos to See Based on Reviews (2010) « Geek vs Goth
  2. Brüno (2009) « Geek vs Goth
  3. The Sarah Silverman Program – Season One (2007) | Geek vs Goth

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