Sarah Silverman at the South Beach Comedy Festival: Smart But Underwhelming
Some of the best comedians infuse truth and intellect into their act, which can put off those looking for a night of laughter without thinking. (Ahem, Seth MacFarlane fans.)
Robyn Von Swank
For those expecting Sarah Silverman's stage act to replicate that of her absurdist (yet hilarious) television program, The Sarah Silverman Show, her sold-out Saturday evening performance at the Fillmore Miami Beach as part of the South Beach Comedy Festival, was a disappointment.
Several festivalgoers complained that her show wasn't as funny as they thought it would be. But it was still one hell of a show.
We have to mention Kyle Dunnigan, her opening act. It's been a while since we've seen a comedian this fresh and this versatile. He came out shuffling his feet, wearing a pair of creepy glasses, and reading from note cards. By the end of his set, you realized that the cool guy on stage can do anything. His act had us laughing from start to finish.
As awkward as Dunnigan first appeared, the audience warmed up to him for the most part. Silverman, on the other hand, thrives on making people feel uncomfortable. Silverman incorporates life lessons and social commentary into her act, all while maintaining her deadpan 'obtuse chick' persona. It can put people off when they don't get the joke. But even during her mini-sermons, the jokes are there to be found.
She of course regaled the audience with stories of poop and pee... if not, it wouldn't have been a Sarah Silverman performance. But she mixed it up with occasional bits about insecurity, religion, and feminism. Although the smart, subtle stuff didn't go over as well, the silly jokes they spawned did.
Silverman's impression of women hobbling about in high heels brought a roar of laughter from the crowd, as did her two musical numbers. "You're Going to Die Soon," allegedly created by Silverman to perform at her grandmother's nursing home, but which fans would recall from her TV show, went over remarkably well with the mostly under senior-age audience. You can imagine how much Nana and Gramps would enjoy lyrics like When you make a doody/is it in your pants and It's not cold in here/you're just dying.
Her other song, "Cunt," takes on those people who blame all of their issues on either bad luck or other people, when instead it's their own damn fault. The lines If you're selfish and you're thoughtless/and you're broken and you're heartless/you're probably not a diva...you're a cunt also elicited an uproar from the crowd.
We may not have been laughing nonstop, but we laughed plenty - and when we weren't laughing, we were still entertained. Silverman may be a lot of things, but she is never boring.