Reader Writes: Turns Out Jesus Is NOT Magic

Hey Phawker,
You told me to get in touch at JB’s last week, and now, with a heavy heart I find myself NEEDING to get in touch with you. For, good sir, I saw your post about the Sarah Silverman vehicle Jesus is Magic, and I need to get this off my chest. I guess if you can do a little retroactive hype, I can give a little retroactive backlash…That movie is not only a waste of time, but it couldn’t be less insightful, subversive, or controversial. All things it strives very hard to be. First off, I am a big Sarah Silverman fan. I first saw her in the “kiss to prove you’re not gay” Sketch from Mr. Show, and have taken a pretty serious interest in her career ever since. I saw Jesus Is Magic the day it came out. Let me also say that I am the least easily offended person around. I once wrote a tribute song to Toby Keith, and all the other Post 9/11heebsilverman.jpg cash-in country artist that had the chorus: “Nine-One-One, it wasn’t Nine-One-Fun, It was Nine-One Sad, which made me feel Nine-One Bad with those towers reaching up to Jesus, lying in a million pieces.”

So, without taking any moral high ground, or disliking something that isn’t in line with my tastes, my feelings are like this. Having a joke where the big pay off is that you say the word “nigger”, Or you say the word “vagina”, or you say “I let my boyfriend cum in my face” is usually not going to be funny. It might get an initial gut reaction, let’s call it a playground laugh. It sure as hell won’t stick with you a week later.

Last week there was an Autism benefit on Comedy Central hosted by Jon Stewart. Two of my heroes, Bob Odenkirk and David Cross (from Mr. Show) did a sketch where the only “funny” line was when David tells Bob his singing was like “a combination between poop and piss.” Funny for about 5 seconds, and then…nothing. To me, it is the exact same thing with Jesus is Magic. The stand-up relied way to heavily on the shock value laugh. It is the comedy equivalent of a Slipknot concert. It may look “crazy” and it may be “loud”, but you saw the Stooges the fist time around, so you know what loud and crazy are really about. (Sarah=Slipknot. Lenny Bruce/ Richard Pryor/Louis CK/Patton Oswalt/etc..=The Stooges.) You can offend, and make a point. In fact, you should offend AND make a point. See the first season of Extras (by Gervais and Merchant), for 6 episodes of proof, or check out about 75% of the Chapelle show. Also, those skits with Brian Posehn were fucking lame and stalled any momentum Jesus Is Magic could have hoped for.

Keep the dream alive,
Daniel Ralston

Dan, thanks for writing. Nice try but in a word: Wrong!

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