Here's the next inflammatory comedian

Review B


Sarah Silverman says things you wouldn't expect a nice, attractive Jewish girl to say. But that's only half her appeal.

In a week when we've said goodbye to the great Richard Pryor, it seems appropriate that we say hello to another in that line of incendiary comedians (in Pryor's case, unfortunately, that incendiary label became all too literal) who have specialized in pushing society's buttons and going where others do not dare to tread. It's a line that goes back at least as far as Lenny Bruce, continues through George Carlin and Pryor, and can now safely be said to include Silverman.

All that, and she's wickedly funny, too, with a pitch-perfect sense of timing and an ability to play expertly off her finely chiseled good looks and gentle, wouldn't-hurt-a-fly demeanor.

Filmed during performances in Los Angeles, Silverman spares few societal taboos, mining for humor in the Holocaust, AIDS, Nazis ("They're cute when they're little, I will give them that"), even the events of 9/11, which, she notes with great solemnity, happened on the same day she discovered her soy latte contained 900 calories. ("You hear soy, you think healthy. And it's a lie.")

As a movie, Jesus Is Magic suffers from only two problems, but they can't be overlooked. For one thing, Silverman in concert takes up only about 45 minutes of running time. She's certainly good enough to warrant more. And secondly, the remaining time is filled with songs and skits that simply don't rise to the level set by the rest of her material. They're throwaway bits at best, uninspired time-fillers that should have been left on some cutting-room floor.

If there's a line that separates Silverman from her predecessors, it's that - judging by this concert, at least - there's far less anger behind Silverman's stinging observations; if Bruce, Carlin and Pryor seemed committed to changing society, Silverman seems content to simply mock its absurdities.

That may make her less of a revolutionary, but it doesn't make her any less funny.

Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic

(Roadside Attractions)

Directed by Liam Lynch.

Unrated. Time 71 minutes


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