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November 24, 2005 - Image 44

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-11-24

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Arts & Entertainment


says her
edgy comedy
is meant
to ridicule
bigotry and


Lenny Bruce?

Naomi Pfefferman

Jewish Journal
of Greater Los Angeles

y Nana was a survivor of
the Holocaust': Sarah
Silverman says sheep-
ishly as she launches an irreverent
joke about her grandmother and
the Shoah in her new concert film,
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic,
based on her successful Off-
Broadway show. The taboo busting
is vintage Silverman, who is
known for gasp-inducing jokes on
other serious subjects, including
rape and race, as well as Jews. Not
to mention her edgy, even filthy,
The comic said in an interview
that viewers have walked out of
her show: They don't get that her
bits "are not racist jokes, but jokes


about racism',' she adds.
Her intent is to ridicule bigoted
and self-loathing impulses — and
to lambaste the kind of political
correctness that makes people
"Every once in a while someone
says,`Do you really think the
Holocaust (or AIDS or whatever)
is funny?"' she told Playboy. "And
I'm like,`No! I think the ignorant
or insensitive [person] I'm being is
Los Angeles magazine called
her "America's favorite trash-
talking nice little Jewish girl
from her and she pushes that
persona to new limits in Jesus.
She gets away with it because her
lines are delivered in mischie-
vous or naive tones.
The Los Angeles Times has

called Silverman's act "Voltaire
whom she rented a small apart-
level satire in standup guise."
ment in the Miracle Mile district
Entertainment Weekly said:
of Los Angeles.
"The Lenny Bruce of the 21st
"He lost his wife and children
century might be this hot, foul-
during World War II, and he had a
mouthed, button-punching
new family, but he lived alone,' she
standup best known (thus far)
for getting in a heap of trouble
He would call and complain that
for using a disparaging [word] to Silverman was using too much hot
describe Asians on Conan
• water, and demand that she rush
downstairs to discuss the matter.
The 34-year-old Silverman
Initially Silverman was non-
seems more thoughtful than
plussed."But then I realized that
nasty during a recent interview
was just an excuse to have me
at Samuel Goldwyn Films in Los
visit',' she says. "I loved him:'
Angeles. Wearing jeans, a pony-
So why did his concentration
tail and no makeup, she exudes a camp number inspire that
sweetness that is the opposite of
Holocaust bit about her grand- -
her Jesus character. She talks
mother? "It's not a very sensitive
about missing her late Nana and joke she admits. "But I'm always
also about her late landlord, an
going for the laugh, and, like all my
elderly Holocaust survivor from
material, the joke comes from a
heart-wrenching place. I talk
about AIDS, 9-11, child abuse. I
don't think its a conscious choice.
For many comics, the work comes
from a source of pain or humilia-
Silverman grew up culturally
Jewish in Bedford, N.H., where,
she says, "no one was Jewish and
no one was funny" In school, she
told her friends, 'I'm Jewish but
I'm totally not' — like I was
Sarah Silverman:
afraid to be judged for it."
Skewering taboos.
After her parents divorced
when she was 6, she became a
bed-wetter well into her teens. "I'd,
go to sleepovers and overnight
camp and pinch myself awake all
night': she recalls. "It was long-
term humiliation."
She says she suffered panic
attacks and missed three months
of ninth grade due to depression,
which runs in her family. Upon
returning to school, she devel-
oped a crush on her history
teacher, Mr. Berk. "I remember
thinking,`He's Jewish, Russian
and Polish, exactly like me!'" she
says. The teacher made her feel
less marginalized as one of few
Jews at school.
She also felt ashamed that she
looked, in her opinion, like "a
hairy little monkey" — darker
and more hirsute than her class-


November 24 2005 t

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