"I don't care if you think I'm racist," says comedienne Sarah Silverman in her new mostly stand-up film, "Jesus Is Magic," "as long as you think I'm thin."
And that pretty much sums up Silverman's schtick. Oh wait, we can't fail to mention that she is perhaps one of the most filthy-mouthed, sex-obsessed comediennes ever to take the stage. We can't help but wonder if Silverman kisses her mother with that mouth.
Whether or not you think Silverman's mix of ditzy racism, campy self-absorption and genitals-on-her-sleeve sexuality reflects the real Silverman is probably irrelevant. Whether you find any of it funny is quite relevant.
"Jesus Is Magic" is largely a stand-up film; perhaps a Comedy Central or HBO special that never aired, but with a twist. It opens with a vignette in which Silverman, after hearing of the successes of two fellow comics (one played by her sister and the other played by the real comic Brian Posehn), makes up a story about having a show opening that night.
Of course, she then must come up with a show in just a few hours. After an almost "Grease"-like musical vignette, she's of stage in front of an audience, doing her routine.
Much of that routine is funny. Her sexual jokes are extremely racy and often riotous. Her love for herself similarly provides laughs. Perhaps she has a right to poke fun at Jews (as the newly-converted dentist on that "Seinfeld" episode would argue), but some viewers, including this one, find themselves cringing at her over-the-top riffs on African- and Asian-Americans, especially.
But she knows this, which is why the subject of her own racism comes up repeatedly in jokes and in other musical vignettes, which pepper the short film (72 minutes).
Silverman is smart enough to know that many will take her material the wrong way and while she's not willing to mine other veins for material, she is willing to poke fun at herself and at her own material in, well, her own material.
Silverman is sassy, quick-witted, smart and comely. Her musical interludes in "Jesus Is Magic" are sometimes quite funny, like the one featuring her performing in a nursing home. Others would have benefited from further development.
She does occasionally interweave some politics and social commenty into her material. She's not afraid to riff irreverently on the Holocaust -- or, she corrects herself, the "alleged" Holocaust -- and she hammers home her inability to understand how Jews could drive cars made by German companies that were, she says, complicit in the genocide of what would later become those companies' best customers.
She's smart enough to traffic in politics and social issues and dabble in the sex, ethnic jokes and egotism. It's a shame that she does the reverse.
Silverman's "Jesus Is Magic" opens Friday, Dec. 16 at Landmark's Oriental Theatre.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.