Jesus Is Magic

Jorge Costa 30/07/2008

Rating: 4/5

Sarah Silverman's comedic stand-up persona is rude, crude, lewd, dirty, racist, homophobic and completely and utterly hilarious! Making “Jewish women sexy”, Silverman's big brown eyes, long dark hair and adorable expressions are mere booby traps for outrages punchlines that blow holes in subjects which other comedians wouldn't even dare to mention.

Having been more of a cult figure since her brief SNL days in the mid nineties, Silverman has begun to achieve more recognition from her roles in 'The School of Rock', 'There's Something About Mary' and her own 'The Sarah Silverman Program' currently being shown on Paramount Comedy. Her biggest exposure to UK audiences, however, probably came from her brief slot on 'The Secret Policeman's Ball' where she joked about African children and her dead grandmother to a polite but slightly bemused audience. This was back in 2006, with the jokes being lifted out of her 2005 flick 'Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic', itself a filming of her 2004 stand-up routine. And now finally - finally! - in 2008, 'Jesus Is Magic' is being put on a limited theatrical run in London and Edinburgh.

This bizarre release schedule admittedly had me questioning the point of even giving the film a cinematic release; after all, in comedy timing is everything so how much of this material would still be relevant four years on? Thankfully, a huge chunk of it still means a lot as Silverman skirts around topical issues and mines such timeless classics like the Holocaust, AIDS, 9/11 and Christ himself for comedic gold.

And does she have balls! “American Airlines - first through the Towers!” she says at one point when talking about positive spin and before you can fully register the implications of this sentence, you're howling with laughter. Then you gasp because you just can't believe that, yes, she really did just say that and you're laughing again because now she just said, “When God gives you AIDS - and God does give you AIDS, by the way - make lemonAIDS!”

It's these shock laughs that form the bulk of her comedic repertoire - shocking because her appearance is so disarmingly cute that when the filth spews from her mouth, it's like getting the carpet yanked out from under you by a clever prankster who's spent the last few minutes successfully earning your trust.

Silverman embodies the persona of an ignorant, arrogant American brilliantly who, like Borat, sends up some of the hypocrisy and shallowness (“I don't care if you think I'm racist, I just want you to think I'm thin.”), gurgling under the fabric of society. I could go on and quote dozens of more instant-classic lines, but I don't want to deny you from hearing them for the first time without Silverman's explosively sharp comic timing.

Filmed by Liam Lynch (Tenacious D's long time music video director), a few 'real-world' and musical sketches accompany the stand up, but almost always to the detriment of the film's flow and level of humour. Though colourful, her musical ditties fail to match the irony and hit-to-miss ratio of the rest of the movie and pale in comparison to her more recent stuff (see, for example, her YouTube hit, 'I'm Fucking Matt Damon'), while some unnecessary scenes of physical 'humour' fall embarrassingly flat.

However, for the most part, 'Jesus Is Magic' is a laugh-a-minute-riot, as vulgar as dead baby jokes, but just as funny. In a time when everyone is pussy-footing around other races and religions for fear of causing offence, Sarah Silverman is a delicious blast of politically incorrect air, whose intelligence, wit and irony will be greatly appreciated by anyone already a fan of subversive careful-when-quoting-aloud comedies like South Park, Drawn Together and even Cyanide & Happiness.

Out 01/08/08