|Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (2005)
Starring: Sarah Silverman, Brian Posehn, Laura Silverman, Bob Odenkirk
Director: Liam Lynch
For those that don’t know, the word “blue” is used in the world of comedy to describe a joke that is indecent or risqué. Sarah Silverman works blue. Scratch that – she works extremely blue, midnight blue, the darkest blue imaginable.
Screw it, she works “Sarah Blue.”
“Jesus Is Magic” – her concert/movie/musical – is not for the faint of heart. That’s not to say that she’s running around dropping f-bombs left and right. That would be way too easy. It’s the subject matter, people. For example, she’s got a bit about how she suspects foul play in her 96 year-old grandmother’s death. She goes on to say that she’s spending her own money to have the body exhumed, and plans to have a complete rape kit done. Of course, her parents don’t support her in this endeavor. (“What’s new?” she laments.) Later, after a long, dramatic pause, she looks up to the heavens and prays, “Oh God, please let them find semen in my dead grandma’s vagina.”
With a running time of 72 minutes, “Jesus Is Magic” mostly consists of footage from two shows filmed in Los Angeles, but there are several musical interludes and a few traditional film scenes where Sarah interacts with her manager and her friends. While she’s appeared on the big screen before – in “School of Rock,” “The Bachelor” and “There’s Something About Mary” – it’s always in a supporting role and she’s never given all that much to do. “Jesus Is Magic” showcases her impressive talents, whether it be her hysterical standup, her subtle yet effective acting, or her surprisingly good singing voice.
As director Liam Lynch said in the film’s commentary track, Silverman’s material is brilliant, but it’s really the delivery that makes her act so funny. When talking about her run-in with a Chinese watchdog group over her use of the word “chink” on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” Silverman asks, with a straight face, “What kind of world do we live in when a totally cute white girl can’t say ‘chink’ on national TV?” Later, Silverman quips, “I don’t care if you think I’m racist. I just want you to think I’m thin.” Silverman’s act is that she’s this overly vain, racist girl. But, by Hollywood standards, she’s actually not all that vain, and while what she says about the different races would surely be considered offensive to many, especially those that she talks about, she’s actually just poking fun at the stereotypes that divide us.
Comedian Brian Posehn and Sarah’s sister, Laura, appear as Sarah’s friends, while comedian Bob Odenkirk plays her manager. All three take the awkwardness to another level, creating the perception that Silverman’s relationships are inherently dysfunctional. But it appears that Silverman pretty much has it together. In the final scene, she pops out of character for a moment (with her “Annie smile,” as she puts it), and lets down her guard. It’s actually a really sweet moment from a girl that, not an hour ago, was talking about her dead grandma’s vagina.
As for the DVD’s bonus features, there’s the aforementioned commentary track where Silverman and Lynch riff about how the film was made. There is also a “Making Of” featurette, an extra music video, the “Jesus Is Magic” trailer, the trailer for “The Aristocrats,” along with Silverman’s hilarious appearance in that film. But don’t buy this DVD for the bonus features. For fans of Silverman or fans of edgy, witty comedy, “Jesus Is Magic” is a no-brainer. Brace yourself for “Sarah Blue.”