This is Dominic Maxwell’s 2/10/13 review in the London Times of Sarah’s Saturday night show at the Bloomsbury Theatre.
She opened with a rape joke and ended by singing a stream of C-words. But in between Sarah Silverman went a good way towards atoning for her last British appearance, a notorious Hammersmith Apollo gig in 2008 at which she performed barely 50 minutes of mostly old material and then reacted with startled petulance when the audience wanted more from her.
Even now it’s not exactly part of the American comic’s smilingly provocative branding to be gracious. “This is good, right?” she said to us halfway through, in her frayed denim shorts and fashion tights. “I’m so paranoid now.” Which rather threw the onus on us to appreciate her, than on her to give us our money’s worth.
Yet her 70-minutes set was fractured but fascinating–because Silverman’s rudest excesses are only one expression of the free thinking that makes her, at her best, a startlingly original comedian. “Nothing seems crazy if you’re used to it,” she said, describing abusive relationships and religion alike. And taking insecurity from the list of topics she kept next to her on a stool, she acutely undermined macho defensiveness, before the routine petered out and she did a gag about Game of Thrones instead.
She wasn’t joking when she said that this was a work-in-progress, even if some of her roughness is doubtless deliberate. She also had a fair few US-only references in this one-off gig, which played at least to the expats in the crowd– along with a lot of British comics and industry people– but she had at least researched local references enough to mention a “Dalston bearded hipster…did I get that right?”.
But I’ll accept the deal of a halfway-there Silverman, because when she’s good she’s so very, very good. Even if her insights gained from therapy and whiplash one-liners weren’t always focused, she was often very funny.