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Though talented and sexy, with great timing, a singular writing voice and a solid presence in comedy for many years now—a true comic’s comic—just what to do with Sarah Silverman has been an unanswered question for the entertainment industry, and perhaps even Silverman herself. Her comedy bona fides are blue chip all the way, appearing in _There’s Something About Mary, School of Rock, Seinfeld, Futurama, The Larry Sanders Show, Mr. Show, Greg the Bunny_ and _Saturday Night Live_ (where she was also a writer), to name a few. Nevertheless, her stints were frequently supporting or guest roles, short lived, or on shows destined for cult classicdom, too smart or niche to find a large audience.
With her new comedy concert film, _Jesus is Magic_, perhaps all that will change, but for someone as clearly talented and unique as she is, her fans wonder why she hasn’t yet broken out in a more mainstream way. To begin with, her comedy can ruffle a few feathers—_Jesus is Magic_ closes with a three microphone rendition of “Amazing Grace” in which Silverman “sings” from every orifice. Plus, she’s Jewish—not in an Alicia Silverstone or Sarah Michelle Gellar way, but in a good old Ashkenazi-won’t-play-well-in-Dubuque kind of way—alright for “quirky best friend,” but less so for a female lead.
Another strike against Silverman is how sexual and scatological her comedy can be. American audiences want their comedic actresses like Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz: kooky and vulnerable, sexy but in a naive and unthreatening way that, at most, coyly hints at their own desires. That is not Silverman. What is Silverman is her willingness to invert the popular tropes of womanhood, talking unabashedly about sex, then turning the joke around on both herself and the audience. (“I was licking jelly off of my boyfriend’s penis and all of a sudden…all of a sudden it hit me…Oh my God! I’m turning into my mother!”)
America’s blond, girl-next-door would never get away with that joke. It’s part of what’s kept her at the fringe up to this point—the Jewish girl next door who isn’t _quite_ like you. In the end, her humor might occupy a liminal, in-between space that mainstream America might never truly appreciate. If that’s the case, then it will be America’s loss.
For more information on Jesus is Magic, check out “www.jesusismagicthemovie.com”:http://jesusismagicthemovie.com/