I really enjoy stand-up DVDs, but they’re pretty formulaic. The show starts, there is usually a short un-funny skit, and then the stand-up portion starts. The comic does his show, the credits roll, and that’s it.
This is really something unique and innovative, however. This film is something of a musical comedy, skit, music video stand-up film. It’s a lot to squeeze into a 72-minute film, but is is done surprisingly well. The transitions work out well, and it really shakes up the standard notions of what a co…edy DVD should be.
As for Silverman herself, she is a rare and unique talent. There is no other comedian working today that even approaches her brand of humor. She is unbelievably offensive, and her shows are probably filled with as much nervous laughter as actual gut laughter. It is often times said of comedians that no topic is off limits, but nobody else pushes the envelope like Silverman. She makes incredibly inappropriate jokes about 9-11, Martin Luther King and child rape, just to name a few. If you are the least bit sensitive, this material is definitely not for you. In fact, I don’t consider myself to be sensitive at all, and even I was a bit uncomfortable at times.
Unfortunately, the 5.1 surround mix on this disc is actually not very dynamic at all. Audio comes out of more speakers than on the stereo track, but there is really not much to separate the two options upon inspection. The bass is a bit more heavy on the 5.1 track, but the overall result is highly compressed, with little dynamic range. There is no audio movement, and the whole thing is really pretty stale. The good news is, the dialog is clean and clear, which is really the most important part. There is really no reason for both tracks to be here, though. Presenting only the stereo track wold have been sufficient.
Fittingly, as this is two different films in one, this is really a tale of two pictures. The stand-up portion looks amazing. The picture is amazingly clear, with no problems whatsoever. It is a pristine transfer. The skit portions, however, are not quite as superb. There is some digital noise that shows up around objects in some of these segments, making for some annoyingly distorted details. Color is fantastic, however, and the wonderfully clean and clear stand-up portions make up for the problems with the skits. The fact that the whole thing is presented in anamorphic widescreen was also a welcome surprise.
For a comedy disc, there is a nice set of extras tacked onto this disc. In addition to trailers for this film and The Aristocrats, viewers also get to see a complete clip of Silverman’s performance from The Aristocrats. There is also a bonus music video for the song “Give the Jew Girl Toys” and a ”making-of” featurette. This is really just an electronic press kit for the film, but it is actually more entertaining than the usual fluff pieces that show up on these discs.
Finally, there is a commentary track by Silverman and Director Liam Lynch. This is a pretty standard track, but viewers really do get to learn some fun and interesting pieces of trivia (like the fact that the opening scene was filmed in Silverman’s actual real-life apartment. On the whole, I would say that these extras are more plentiful and of a higher quality than those found on your average stand-up comedy DVD.
Sarah Silverman – Jesus is Magic is nothing if not unique. It is a new kind of stand-up performance. Part jokes, part music, part drama… and all designed to make the viewer feel very, very uncomfortable. The film is a visual treat and the extras are plentiful, but the subject matter was just a bit too irreverent for my tastes. Still, if you are in the mood for a beautiful, attractive Jew’s thoughts on taboo subjects, this is clearly the disc for you.
Special Features List
- Commentary by Sarah Silverman and director Liam Lynch
- “Behind the Scenes with Sarah” featurette
- Sarah’s performance from The Aristocrats
- “Give the Jew Girl Toys” Music Video