Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic (DVD)

"I was raped by a doctor," announces Sarah Silverman. "Which is, you know, so bittersweet for a Jewish girl ..." If you thought her deadpan section of The Aristocrats was funny, you really haven't seen anything yet. However, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic gives us the same dilemma as Mamma Mia. The content is fine — the deceptively pretty Silverman is one of the best acerbic comics working today — but the structure is a mess.

It's a mix of conventional stand-up recording, generally unsuccessful framing devices and occasionally devastatingly funny songs, but the makers — and I assume Silverman had some considerable say — seems to have no idea how to best utilise them. The result is neither one thing nor the other and while a similar format worked well on Silverman's TV show (well worth a punt on Play.com's US site), the addition of the stand-up performance leaves it stranded. You can't help think that a conventional HBO-esque comedy special would have been more successful or, indeed, a comedy special with musical interludes: it's the framing devices that jar the most and make the film feel padded even at 72 minutes.

Silverman's sweet and girly delivery masks a thought-provoking, smart sense of humour and a deep sense of satire towards social issues. She refers to her mixed race boyfriend in passing as half-black before later stopping herself and apologising for her social gaffe. 'I mean he's half-white,' she smiles. Because, you see, she doesn't care if you see her as racist. She wants you to see her as thin. Silverman may only have tiny feet but she uses them to fine effect, stomping over taboos.  A shame then that this format does her so few favours.

EXTRAS *** An audio commentary with Silverman and director Lynch; a making-of featurette; a music video, Give the Jew Girl Toys; the theatrical trailer.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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