Sunday, June 18, 2006

Jesus Is Magic

Don't rush out to buy this one.

I've had a crush on Sarah Silverman since she appeared in There's Something About Mary. That dark hair and the cute face - I was instantly hooked. In case you're not familiar with her, Sarah is an L.A. based comic who gets bit parts in movies and I don't know much else about her other than she's cute and I've had a crush on her.

Dreading another long flight from Los Vegas to Baltimore, I stopped by the local Fry's Electronics to pick up a DVD to watch and found Sarah's new Jesus Is Magic DVD and picked it up. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote that Sarah is "The most outrageously funny woman alive!" Variety said that Jesus Is Magic is "Explosively funny and perversely adorable." And the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Comedy as ruthlessly provocative as anything since the heydey of Lenny Bruce."

Those are some big words from some big industry guns and I was seriously looking forward to watching the video. But there's something else to consider... In the world of Hollywood media, it's not uncommon for a production company to "encourage" a writer to write something positive (or even just put their name to something scripted) about a film/video with the promise of including that writer's name and publication in the ad. It's not really deceptive. It's marketing.

I wish I had that in mind when I was perusing the racks of DVDs at Fry's because I would have bought something else and just downloaded Jesus Is Magic off the Internet.

Overall, Jesus Is Magic is a disappointment. It's entertaining at best and offensive at worst. Perhaps Sarah displays the epitome of Jewish neurosis, but I just don't get it. It's barely funny. It's not a video that I would watch over and over again because of it's witty insight into the human persona. It's vaguely concealed racism at best.

Hawaii-based comic Andy Bumatai, in his seminal CD release Brain Child noted that good comedy has insight into the culture that it's joking about, while poor comedy is based on superficial and stereotypical understanding of the culture. And Sarah's understanding is of the latter rather than the former.

One of the things that separates most other comics from Sarah is their ability to make fun of and laugh at themselves. Sarah is unable to do any of that. She's unabashedly Jewish by her own demonstration that she's part of the "chosen people" but refuses to poke fun at her own people instead positioning Blacks as the target while propositioning that Jews are indeed White.

In fact, it seems that the only time Sarah mentions Blacks or Chinks or any other ethnic minority is in a derogatory context because she obviously lacks depth and understanding of the people she's making fun of. We cannot laugh with her but moreover, can only watch in horror to these poor jokes.

But all isn't bad in Jesus Is Magic, like I said previously, Sarah's strength is in being an entertainer. Her musical breaks are interesting, funny and entertaining. She needs to stay with the entertainment side of her career and stay away from the comedy.

If you're looking for a video that's going to keep you rolling with non-stop huge belly laughs, Jesus Is Magic is not for you. It's at times entertaining, sort of funny and definitely offensive because Sarah lacks any insight and understanding to the people she's joking about.