Review: Sarah Silverman delivers delicious bad taste in Vancouver
Sarah Silverman attends the LA Premiere of "I Smile Back" held at ArcLight Hollywood on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Published Sunday, February 26, 2017 1:40PM PST
It’s common for comedy shows to start slightly later than advertised, but Saturday night’s Sarah Silverman performance began 30 slow minutes after its alleged kick-off time after the crowd at Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre faced thorough security searches, metal detectors and lengthy queues on their way to their seats.
Always the professional, Silverman began her performance, the de facto headline set of this year’s JFL Northwest Festival, with an apology for the delays implemented after a comedian receives death threats.
“I said something on the Internet and now some people want to kill me,” she smiled with her patented butter-wouldn’t-melt, faux-naïve innocence. “Sorry for calling for a military coup. It was a long shot!”
There’s a difference between political activity on Twitter and bringing that direct approach to the stage. Silverman didn’t use the word ‘Trump’ once during her stellar set, the only reference to 45 coming during a story about how her father suffered daily beatings and anti-semitic abuse at school, “you know, back when American was great.”
One of the regular criticisms conservatives throw at liberals is the perceived crime of political correctness. Over the course of an almost entirely unrepeatable hour of comedy, Silverman dismantled that myth, pairing a cuteness of delivery with a series of ideas routinely stepping far over the line of social acceptability.
Topics covered included laser hair removal, squirrels, alcohol-induced diarrhoea, summer camp, meeting people with hooks for hands, Barbie, lunch with Kanye West and – in a finale tackling the really big topics – faith in God. Oscillating between scatological and political, juvenile and philosophical, Silverman was brilliantly funny throughout, effortlessly combining the power to shock with thoughtful revelations about life as a modern American woman.
Silverman’s greatest creation is her comic persona; the insensitive, self-obsessed naïf, seemingly unaware that she’s continually crashing through the liberal values of her “really godless crowd.”
But she was also unafraid to occasionally reveal her true self, demonstrating exactly that during a brief exchange with an unwanted heckler, “It’s funny because you think we’re in a conversation,” and revealing the correct behaviour after getting a big laugh from a throwaway joke, appealing to the “three people here that play basketball” by comparing it to hitting a three-pointer “and not smiling, but getting straight back on defence.”
With something to offend everyone (a new chunk revealing her disdain for hipster comedy icon Andy Kaufman ensured all possible bases were covered), Silverman crafted a polemical bad taste masterpiece that in the face of death threats crossed another line – from comedy to genuine courage.
Kudos too to Vancouver’s own Charlie Demers, whose opening set delighted the crowd with a charming skewering of our fair city’s particular value system, including perhaps the best joke of the entire night about his mixed race marriage.
“She’s from Toronto. That’s not a race, just a really sh***y attitude.”