“Jesus is Magic” is comedian Sarah Silverman’s chance to shine. After a middling career in movies that didn’t know what to do with her, Silverman took it upon herself to write a one-woman show to best exploit her distinctive perspective on life. Cutting between stand-up material and various musical numbers, ‘Magic” is an uproarious, profoundly obscene, inventively twisted performance film that, in a just world, should make a star out of this ferociously talented comic.
Silverman’s “bit,” if you will, is her acerbic take on life and people. She enjoys toying with racial stereotypes, both to snap her audience to attention and to debunk their sensitive nature. This type of comedy does get her into trouble from time to time (she talks about her infamous Conan O’Brien Show faux pas with a certain Asian slur), but “Magic” is meant to give Silverman a chance to stretch our her modus operandi, and put it to better use than just misconstrued sound bites on comedy talk shows. Equipped with calculated punchline pacing, a wide assortment of facial gestures, and her own inherent adorability (which she uses to cushion her verbal body blows), Silverman uses “Magic” to topple ridiculous taboos and goose her unsuspecting audience in her own observantly hilarious ways.
A word of warning: “Magic” is not for everyone. Since Silverman aims for complete vulgarity in her act, her delicate targets might offend some. A sample joke: A desired post-9/11 advertisement for a major airliner “American Airlines: First Through the Towers.”
Still with mer That’s only the tip of the iceberg: Silverman’s mind wanders through her own self-deprecating Jewish expectations for love and life, why strippers should be role models, her favorite type of African diamond, the Holocaust, Osama bin Laden domain names, unwanted lower body hair, AIDS, and questioning why Jews buy German cars. The musical numbers help punctuate the jokes, brought to life by director Liam Lynch (the upcoming Tenacious D movie, “The Pick of Destiny”). Lynch uses ample color and visual punch translating Silverman’s material to the screen, eagerly going along with her desire for mischief at all costs (sample lyric: “I love you more than bears love honey/I love you more than Jews love money/I love you more than Asians are good at math”). The songs are catchy like you wouldn’t believe, and they act as a terrific device to break up Silverman’s act and add a little visual spice where a simple stage setting just isn’t enough.
Silverman has been compared routinely to Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor due to the sharp, unconventional thrust of her material, yet there’s a crucial softness and playfulness to her that’s disarming, and separates her from the current pack of comics who love to shock (as seen in “The Aristocrats,” a film that, coincidentally, Silverman stole). “Jesus is Magic” is the spotlight that Silverman deserves, and anyone willing to indulge in a little rowdy, un-PC comedy will come out of the theater with tears of laughter in their eyes and a song in their heart. Granted, the song might be about the work ethic of drug addicted porn stars, but a song nonetheless.Rating: A