January 30, 2007


See Sarah Swear (BRENDAN BERNHARD, January 30, 2007, NY Sun)

Ms. Silverman's specialty is to take false problems, like overdeveloped racial or gender sensitivities, and then make inhuman, "daring" little jokes about them -- fake humor about fake dilemmas. In a scene from this episode, for instance, Sarah compliments a 70-year-old black woman on how young she looks, and then, when the woman is so pleased she tries to give her a kiss, Sarah suddenly reverses herself and says, actually, she does look her age. "Bitch," the woman mutters, walking away. Of course, had she taken a course in "Cultural Theory," she'd have known to call her a "meta-bitch."

Ms. Silverman -- or the version of herself she plays here -- is a bit like Lenny Bruce in a world in which obscenity, or mock obscenity, has been mandated by the Entertainment Authorities. Rather than being jailed, hounded, put on trial for making dirty jokes, and winding up dead from an overdose of heroin, you are prescribed anti-depressants, appear on television, and are profiled at length in the New Yorker, four-letter words included. Your ironic brand of "meta-comedy" also provides fertile fodder for endless ponderings, as in this analysis, from Slate magazine:

"Silverman is a prototypical ironist -- someone who says things she doesn't mean and (through more-or-less subtle contextual winks) expects us to intuit an unstated, smarter message underneath. But what is that message? Does she, like Socrates, play dumb in order to make us smart? Or just to experience the cheap thrill of public racism? Every ironic statement, should, in theory...." Etc., etc.

Ms. Silverman has been called "the funniest woman alive" by Rolling Stone, which is enough to make one weep for women. But perhaps it would be more to the point to weep for critics.

The irony is instead that she says exactly what she means and what her audience is constrained from saying themselves by Political Correctness. It's pretty basic Relief Theory.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 30, 2007 8:24 AM

Will she get her own chapter in your book?

If so, include lots of pictures of her.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at January 30, 2007 9:11 AM

I don't have the stomach to follow popular culture to the nadir of disgusting deviancy, so will somebody please tell me when it hits rock bottom and starts back up so I can open my eyes again.

Posted by: erp at January 30, 2007 9:25 AM

Just curious, but does anyone else here read Vice's DOs and DON'Ts?

Posted by: Mike Beversluis at January 30, 2007 9:32 AM

Coming soon, the Sarah Silverman/Borat crossover episode.

Oooh, I can't wait.


Posted by: Mike Morley at January 30, 2007 10:17 AM

I read the Silverman article in the New Yorker last night and in it, she recalled a joke she admired but did not write, about a pedophile walking into the woods at night with a kidnapped child. I'm not going to tell you the punch line, but I'll describe my reaction to it.

In spite of my belief in free speech, my understanding of a performer's desire to push the limits to gain recognition and income, as well as my acceptance that most popular entertainment serves only to celebrate the most negative attibutes of human behavior-- my inititial reaction to her selecting that joke to illustrate her comic sensibilities, was like being punched in the stomach. Maybe it's because I'm a parent, maybe it's because I empathize with other parents whose children are the victims of such acts -- I don't know -- I only know I was surprised by my own visceral reaction to her choice of that joke to illustrate her "nothing's sacred" sense of humor.

With material like that, I'm not interested in acknowledging the distinction between Sarah Silverman, the "performer" and Sarah Siverman, the human being.

Want a challenge, write something funny that celebrates life and maybe even has a couple of characters who faintly resemble real people. Want to know why TV stinks? People like Silverman and many others in the film and entertainment industry have very little life experience or perspective and it shows. Their idea of reality emanates from the tv shows that came before them.

Best of luck with the shock and awe, Sarah, hope you can pull in that all too elusive pedophile demographic.

Posted by: John at January 31, 2007 1:18 PM