(Originally published in The California Aggie)
The way I see it, stand-up comedy comes in a couple of different varieties. There’s the family-friendly kind, which sticks to G-rated topics – the likes of which can be found on any number of TBS comedies. There’s the PG or PG-13 kind that isn’t afraid to make a joke about a celebrity or cautiously test the waters of cultural, racial or sexual humor.
Then there’s the kind that holds absolutely nothing back, and that’s exactly what actress, comedienne and writer Sarah Silverman delivered at a nearly sold-out Mondavi Center show on Sunday night.
From her opening anecdote – a childhood memory of, erm, showering with her mom at age three – Silverman made it clear that for one night, there would be no rules.
If there were rules, would Silverman, 10 minutes into her set, peer down at a girl in the front row and say, “Are you seriously texting right now? Give me your phone,” and proceed to check out the girl’s Facebook and threaten to call one of her friends? Or ask the guy sitting next to her, “So you came with her? How many times?”
Then there were the religion jokes, and nobody was safe. Explaining that she was hassled as a kid for being Jewish, she defended her people with the simple logic that, in the “olden times,” 33 was considered old. “Jesus had a pretty good run,” she reasoned.
She didn’t let Jews off the hook that easily. What did the Jews hate about the Holocaust the most, she asked? “The cost.”
Moving on to her feelings about motherhood, Silverman revealed that she’d like to adopt, preferably someone “brown, otherwise you don’t get credit.” While on the subject of children in need, Silverman suggested the Make-a-Wish Foundation be renamed to Make-Another-Wish, because, let’s face it, the organization can’t grant the one wish all terminally ill kids would want to make.
One of the more shocking bits, even by Silverman standards, concerned the safety of telling “rape jokes.” Silverman explained that they are some of the best to tell because a real rape victim who gets offended by such a joke would only end up apologizing and thinking it was her fault. Ouch.
To balance out the pointed critiques of Jews, Christians, rape victims and others, Silverman included some self-deprecating tidbits of her own. She discussed her bedwetting, and the time she went to get her unibrow waxed and the technician assumed she was there about her mustache. Or how she accidentally stabbed Al Franken in the head with a pencil in the writers’ room at “Saturday Night Live”.
Wrapping up the set with a song that mainly involved her strumming a guitar and lovingly intoning the c-word over and over, Silverman brought the night to a close with a question and answer session. The last question came from a girl wanting to know why Silverman agreed to star in the “really weird” movie I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With.
Needless to say, the c-word was no longer directed at a guitar. But, considering the tone of the evening, perhaps Silverman couldn’t have ended her set any better.