Sarah Silverman’s cartoon bunny rabbit smile could make her the poster child for orthodontia, but it’s her timing that’s the real thing of beauty. Silverman’s quasi-concert doc Jesus Is Magic opens with the star tediously regaled by a pair of Hollywood wannabes (one played by her sister). Defensively, she dreams up her own outrageous success story—a one-woman musical about AIDS and the Holocaust—and then proceeds to stage it. A wicked wittle wabbit who feigns innocence as she courts outrage, Silverman jokes about killing Christ (“I’d fucking do it again in a second if I heard those Birkenstocks padding up behind me”), makes fun of Martin Luther King, travesties 9-11, and suggests that her grandmother got a “vanity number” at Auschwitz. Her vagina monologue is actually a duet (with a third orifice joining in for the chorus).
Her delivery a seamless blend of psychobabbling TV guest and narcissistic Valley Girl, Silverman never breaks character: “You know what babies love? Ethnic jokes!” In the realm of stand-up Jews, she’s neither a Lenny Bruce philosopher nor a Sandra Bernhard performance artist. Borderline tiresome, Silverman’s racial and sexual obsessions might suggest Jackie Mason with a pretty face. But really, she’s a verbal Jerry Lewis, shamelessly willing to say anything. (“I always feel crappy when I do that joke,” she pretends to apologize, “but it gets such a good laugh.”) A TV crack got Silverman into trouble with an Asian American media watchdog group. “What kind of world do we live in where a totally cute white girl can’t say ‘Chink’ on network television?” she complains. “It’s like the ’50s—totally scary. As a member of the Jewish community, I was really concerned that we were losing control of the media.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 1, 2005