I have to admit, it's a little difficult to write a review about someone I have admired and followed since I first got into stand-up comedy. I still remember the first time I saw comedian Sarah Silverman perform live back home at a show in Manchester, New Hampshire, and I knew all her jokes and delivery by heart so well I could say them along with her. I recently watched Silverman’s HBO special We are Miracles (released November 2013) before getting to listen to the album version, which just came out September 23 in the US on Sub Pop. It's really a rare thing for people to sit down and listen to a full comedy album these days, and even as a huge stand-up fan like myself, I only do it once in a while when I feel like have a good fat chunk of time. [That being said: if you DO have the time, go listen (RIGHT NOW!) to some of my favorites: Tig Notaro’s groundbreaking album Live, John Mulaney’s New In Town, Maria Bamford’s Ask me About My New God!, and Hannibal Buress’s Animal Furnace.]
From the start of “We Are Miracles,” it's the same Sarah Silverman her fans know and love. She begins right out of the gate with “Nighttime Rituals,” a bit about the key search terms she uses to find the particular type of porn she likes (i.e: "gang bang", "amateur", and "cum" — “You have to put cum! If you don’t, you might not get cum!”). And soon after, Sarah breaks the forth wall to address her intimate audience, whom she lovingly calls “The Largo 39” (it was recorded in the Largo nightclub in Los Angeles which only holds 40 people), saying, “I don’t need transitions” before she transitions with, “speaking of cum, my mother’s been sick.” Silverman goes on to stun the crowd with quick switches from innocent to crude and back again, the clever twisting of situations to the unexpected that makes people either love or hate her.
She goes on to tackle a whole mix of subjects, like why we find new religions so weird, people who say “you threw me under the bus!” too often (I hate these kinds of people...), rape jokes about rape jokes, adopting human puppies, and how she got desensitized to the word “pussy.”All throughout Sarah’s mix of observations and social commentary, she is constantly stopping to say, as much to herself to her audience, “That’s fucking crazy!” But anyone who has seen or heard her 2005 special Jesus is Magic knows that she loves to talk about how we as a society handle and talk about religion, morality, sex and our bodies. Anyone who hasn't seen Silverman before should probably start with another album, because We Are Miracles is more like a natural evolutionary step in the comedian/actress's long and varied career — something that has been building up for years.
That isn’t to say Sarah doesn’t have new things to discuss. Throughout the special there are still moments that surprise you, catch you, and reach out to you to relate (“Isn’t that CRAZY? We are miracles!”). In perhaps my favorite part of the show, less a joke than a social criticism, Sarah stops and says, “Stop telling girls they can be anything they want when they grow up… I think it’s a mistake!" And just when the audience thinks she's going to make a joke, she continues, dead serious, "Not because they can’t, but because it would have never occurred to them they couldn’t! You’re planting that seed in their heads! …It’s like saying 'Hey when you get in the shower I’m not gonna read your diary.'”
This is a Sarah who has grown up, is (still) not ashamed to talk about whatever she wants, and does so with a kind of confidence and comfort that only a seasoned comedian can maintain in order to take her audience along with her the whole show, both through the uncomfortable and the relatable.
Listen to a clip here! And buy the album now at Sub Pop!
All images via Sub Pop.