Film Review: Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic, 1 – 7 August, Cameo, Edinburgh

31 Jul

Jesus is Magic is the edgily controversial movie of the controversially edgy stand-up show by controversial, edgy, US comic Sarah Silverman. It controversially addresses such edgy subject matter as rape, September 11, AIDS, pornography and the Holocaust.

No less edgy a publication than The Observer recently dubbed Silverman “the world’s hottest, most controversial comedian”. Jesus is Magic largely consists of Silverman’s controversial stage show of the same name, interspersed with backstage skits and musical numbers (many of them edgy).

In the US, Silverman has provoked controversy with her act’s ironic flirtation with racism. “Everyone blames the Jews for killing Christ,” she quips edgily in the movie: “The Jews try to pass it off on the Romans…I’m one of the few people who believes it was the blacks.” That’s the whole joke, and a fairly typical example of how kooky and controversial she is.

The film makes it clear that Silverman is portraying a character called “Sarah Silverman”, a narcissistic racist seemingly unaware of how controversial she is being. Her routine – and the film – is based on the tension between Silverman’s desperate hunger for the audience’s affection and her equally desperate desire to shock and repel them.

Silverman is a slick performer, and the film remains watchable even after you’ve realised all the jokes are structured in exactly the same way: a brief introduction to a serious topic followed by her edgy, controversial take on it.

The musical numbers are well-executed and there are a couple of good one-liners. It’s a tribute to Silverman’s undoubted charm and skill that the film remains just on the right side of grating. But only just.

On the other hand, if you’re a wannabe hipster looking for a good film to see with a racist, Jesus is Magic comes highly recommended.

Review by Paul Vlitos

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