Guardian likes Sarah’s 2/9/13 show, too

Here’s Brian Logan’s review from the Guardian (U.K.), published 11 February.

Talk about a statement of intent. Sarah Silverman’s first line tonight, a beat after her intro music subsides, is: “I was brutally raped to that song.” After the collapse of her last UK gig (fans protested when she finished after only 45 minutes), some of us wondered whether the hippest woman in American comedy might play humble tonight. But that is not her style – Silverman is the complete provocateur. Race, rape, religion; vaginal odours and terminally ill babies: where there are delicate feelings, Silverman is there, wielding a sharp fingernail. Where there is sanctimony, a bludgeon will do.

She alludes to the Hammersmith Apollo debacle – but hasn’t wholly mended her ways. Tonight’s show is short, sees her cribbing from notes, and features several rehashed jokes from that abortive 2008 set. But that is easy to forgive, because hers is such a compelling comic personality, mixing faux-naivety and self-irony, critical intelligence and blatant affront. There is more of (what I assume to be) the real Silverman creeping into the act, too, offsetting all those cool, crude epigrams of 21st-century solipsism.

But it is the jokes that clinch it. One line about a health warning on a cigarette packet (the baby on the respirator pictured, Silverman reassures herself, is “only an actor”) shows how our savviness to media inauthenticity allows us to pick and choose what we believe. And there is a routine that simultaneously critiques the lazy use of rape jokes, protests the fact that rapes are seldom reported – and, queasily enough, teases the women who do not report them. There is so much going on at once – you laugh, you recoil, you think – yet Silverman is in perfect control.

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