“Shock” comedian Sarah Silverman’s appeal is less about her content than her context. She may lack the foundations of good stand-up — a gift for mimickry, storytelling ability, or crack timing — but she certainly gives good face. After all, vanity and sex are essential parts of Silverman’s act. In her feature Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic, the actress brings her Off-Broadway one-woman show of stand-up comedy and musical performances to the screen. Her stage routine mostly consists of politically incorrect one-liners like “When God gives you AIDS... make lemonAIDS.” It’s unsettling and sexy to hear such foul and vulgar words coming out of the mouth of a cute Jewish girl. Silverman is actually in her 30s, but she clearly has no qualms about deploying herself as a tomboyish fantasy object for hipster dudes.
For years, media watchdogs have decried Silverman’s rampant use of racial slurs. The response she provides during her act seems flippant: “They’re just jokes.” But in her case, she’s right: whether she’s telling a tasteless joke about 9/11 or doing a three-part harmony of “Amazing Grace” with her vagina and anus, she’s just an innocent, merry prankster lobbing verbal water balloons. Intermittently, Silverman will signal a break from the film’s reality with a stylized musical number in which she dons full rocker-chick regalia and sings about penises. She mocks the self-indulgence of “one-woman shows,” but Silverman is far too hip to be truly personally revealing, hiding behind her crude adolescent schtick and sex-kitten posing. “I don’t care if you think I’m a racist,” she demurs. “I want you to think I’m thin.” In this 100-minute piece, that’s the closest she comes to truth.
Opens November 11