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Sarah, Not So Plain and Tall

December 8, 2005 By:
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Sarah Silverman: What a punim - and what a mouth!

What's a nice Jewish girl like Sarah Silverman doing with a mouth so scummy that soap would run screaming from it?

Or, as Silverman herself might put it, "None of your #@*!&*# #@**#@##!

Hmmm, she can hide from intensified Tide.

If sweet Sarah has her finger on the pulse of contemporary comedy, it may also be the same finger she's simultaneously using to flip off society.

"Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic" - no fears here; she's only proselytizing for priapic punchlines - is nearly evangelical in its devout commitment to iconoclasm.

Indeed, in its own way, this new film by the "Saturday Night Live" alum is an optimist's optical illusion, a real jocular ocular contradiction: Such rank comments coming from such a pretty face.

And it's oh-so-down-dirty and deliriously funny, with Silverman metaphorically dangling not a cross but a Star of David in front of her for protection.

Warding off the "such a shandah"-spouting yachnas? Maybe. Because what Silverman profanely proclaims here is freedom from perception. Aural sex? Hear her out: Part of her anarchic appeal stems from her pretty-as-a-picture appearance framed by filthily funny cracks.

This 70-minute escapade shows why the stand-up stands out in a not-so-crowded field of female comics; she's at peace giving a piece of her mind to the politically correct.

Indeed, Silverman is the gold ring - tarnished, it may be - on a comedy carousel ride that horses around with manure mirth. In the carnival that is comedy, the sexily salacious and svelte Silverman is the big elephant in the tent, the one packing in the crowds with taunts of peanuts envy.

She has a comment for everything - much of it subversive, as this one, from a close encounter with the unkind, demonstrates from the past: "People are always introducing me as 'Sarah Silverman, Jewish comedienne.' I hate that! I wish people would see me for who I really am - I'm white!"

Or, on the Iraq war: "This is not the first time that Europe has been passive while a Jew-hating tyrant with a weird-looking mustache killed the people by giving them gas.

"Obviously, I'm talking about Chef Boyardee."

Uh-oh, spaghetti-o's. But if this saucy chick's humor is too tasteless, well, maybe her mirth menu isn't one you'll want to peruse.

But who says there's no comic around today willing to come out swinging Jewishly? Here's Sarah in fine form from the film: "I was raped by a doctor, which is a bittersweet experience for a Jewish girl."

Rape as riff? As for Holocaust humor … she puts the ouch in Auschwitz: "My grandmother was in one of the better camps."

Trash talk that even some sanitation workers won't stop to pick up. She nails everyone. But is the blood-letting banter cutting-edge or stigmata?

"Everybody blames the Jews for killing Christ. And then the Jews try to pass it off on the Romans. I'm one of the few people that believe it was the blacks."

Mouthing Off
There have been some chinks in the armor of popularity. Her reference to a Chinese person as a "chink" drew spitballs of boos after her appearance on a "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" show.

And, most recently, her straight-faced, off-the-wall "revelation" in the anarchic "The Aristocrats," that she was "raped" by a legendary, old-style New York talk-show host drew talk of his filing a lawsuit against her for slander.

But blasphemy is her business, her only business. And if she says what others are only thinking … Jews on a Mercedes-Benz bender? Who knew, she wonders out loud, that Germans were interested in "the extermination of a people who'd become their best customers?"

Springtime for Hitler? He's a man - and target - for all seasons, according to Silverman's sardonic sass.

An equal-opportunity offender, she is best on the offensive - as she demonstrated cranking up the JAP japes as the crude and rude Hadassah Guberman in Comedy Central's "Crank Yankers."

Pay her no mind? The brilliant comedian has enough of her own: "I don't care if you think I'm racist. I just want you to think I'm thin."

On thin ice, she seems to like scatological skating, too. Come in, she avows, the water's cold. But it is her biting humor that can take the chill out of the air.

As for her new film's title … it's the way her boyfriend - late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel - explained his Catholic upbringing to her distillation of what Judaism meant to her.

What does it all mean? That this seeming lewd love child of Lenny Bruce, Andy Kauffman and Howard Stern - actually, the 35-year-old New Englander with schtick as old as Bella Bart, was born to a not particularly religious family, once claiming, "We went to temple once a year, and my dad let us bring a book to put inside the prayer book," a comment which probably shocked her rabbi sister - can make book on such impure thoughts is either an insightful comment on the table of contents of what makes up contemporary society.

Or it's just dirty talk.

No matter which way you decide, for Sarah Silverman, it is Judaism that is magic. And maybe it just better be after a quip like this:

"I hope the Jews did kill Christ," she says in a chipper mood.

"I'd do it again."

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