The Austin Chronicle

The 'Miracle' of Comedy Premieres Tonight

By Russ Espinoza, November 23, 2013, 9:45am, Picture in Picture

If you couldn’t find time for comedian Sarah Silverman’s two Austin appearances this year during SXSW Comedy and Fun Fun Fun Fest, you can redeem those missed opportunities and get intimate with Silverman from the comfort of your snack-strewn squalor of home.

You have the expensive cable, right?

We Are Miracles, Silverman's first HBO special, is 47 minutes of brand-new stand-up that opens with a vignette of Silverman smoking a joint laced with “a bunch of stuff” with a car of Mexican looky-loos. In front of 39 people – “the HBO 39,” Silverman quips – at the cozy Largo Theatre in Los Angeles, the soon-to-be 43-year old comedian, writer, and actress gives an airtight, measured, and much more polished performance than she did in the stand-up segments from her 2005 concert film, Jesus Is Magic. For one thing, Silverman no longer punctuates every lurid punch line with “but um.” It may sound petty – hell, Amy Schumer does it all the time – but the elimination of that grating verbal tick is a most welcome sign of maturation.

What Silverman does so well is lacquer her varyingly earnest and satirical viewpoints in her patented tone of cute, disarming condescension – as if she’s mildly embarrassed for you for not having already reached the same conclusions yourself. A large part of her beauty and success lies in the disconnect between such crudeness and such a cute face and an adorable voice. While that’s what’s funniest most of the time, her fearlessness and intelligence is why she’s made it to the very top.

With Miracles, all the scoop you need – that word the climax of a particularly funny and cutting bit about macho guys – is that Silverman kicks off her set with “I very rarely… occasionally, obsessively watch porn on my phone” and sings the word “cunt” 31 times in a row for a night cap. The in-between is also true to form tonally and conceptually; the Largo’s “intimate,” toned-down setting – in lieu of a buzzing theatre – buoys the delightfully vulgar material by contrast.

Silverman meanders through topics of religion (the absurdity of how a mere apology from Hitler, for instance, admits him into Heaven under Christian law), sex, pornography, rape and rape jokes, vomitous childhood reminiscences, playing mind-games with little children, bedwetting, doggies, and – of course – miracles.

Each and every one of us is a miracle, she explains: We have, if you think about it, all once “lived in our dad’s balls.”

That’s crazy. And it’s that level of thinking that recently earned Silverman the honorific “most outrageously funny woman alive” from Rolling Stone.

We Are Miracles premieres Saturday, Nov. 23, 9pm on HBO.

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