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By Jef Dinsmore on Nov 24, 2013 to HBO Specials

sarahsilverman01Overview:  Dubbed “the most outrageously funny woman alive” by Rolling Stone, comedian and actress Sarah Silverman stars in her first HBO comedy special when SARAH SILVERMAN: WE ARE MIRACLES debuts. Taped in front of an intimate audience of 39 at Largo, a music and comedy club in Los Angeles, the exclusive presentation takes aim at such subjects as pornography, religion, President Obama, procreation, government, self-examination, sexuality, the miracle of existence and more.

Expectations: I’ll be truthful. I barely know who Sarah Silverman even is as a comedian or actress. I know she is the ex-girlfriend of Jimmy Kimmel and had some funny bits there and that she has or had a stint on Comedy Central with her own show. My best knowledge of her was as her role as a newly hired writer on THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW. I thought she fit in well on that sitcom. As far as her standup is concerned, I know she is quite saucy, vulgar, blue, raunchy or whatever the proper word for her all out there brand of comedy. Don’t get me wrong I am quite at ease with her colorful use of verbiage. But, I am totally clueless on her style. Every comedian has one. What is hers?

Yeah, I guess it is a no-brainer. I am out to get a handle on her comedic style via this intimate standup experience and find out why she thinks that “We are miracles.” I am sure I’m going to get a laugh out of it.


Gut Reaction: I’ll be truthful here as well. It wasn’t a comedic masterpiece, but I did laugh. Those of you who are more used to her standup style might have thought her spot on. I didn’t and I didn’t for a couple of reasons. Before I broach those points though let me say that I liked what she said. She hit on a number of points in varied topics and popped a joke that made you think and laugh and then made you flinch that you followed her thought at all. It is like she said, “Hey, I caught you over thinking that; pretty funny, huh? Yep, it was comedy all right.

Silverman02Now for the other shoe — I liked what she said but not how she said it. I did not fancy her style of delivery. She was trying to make the routine conversational, which you would think would fit nicely in that little venue, but her bit came off as disorganized or as if she was testing jokes out for the first time. It did not seem polished at all. Let me point out a couple of examples without stating the specific jokes. In the very beginning she launched into how she watches her porn then went on to say that one time her mother was sick in the hospital. Okay, are we done with the pornography shtick? The in-house audience didn’t seem to follow her either as she declared that it was okay she didn’t do segues. She then proceeded to jump jarringly from bit to bit without any flow whatsoever. Sorry, I guess I need some structure to my comedy.

 I was also sort of put off by her glossing over her topics. I would have thought that since her show was titled WE ARE MIRACLES that she would have structured her routine to be about how homo sapiens are amazing animals and then proceed to tell us via her observations how dysfunctional, illogical and fucked up we really are. Instead we get a few wild sentences about the miracle of our existence as she marvels ever so briefly that she was once her father’s gamete. It was a funny bit but so scant then it was gone.

Now those more familiar might not mind her scatterbrained random approach. There are a number of comedians who do it. The difference is, I think, that those comedians are scatterbrained over inane comments Silverman’s thoughts are really more intellectual and thus seem odd. Oh crap, it is comedy why must I over think it.

In Conclusion: How about weighing in about what you think of Sarah Silverman’s comedy and this particular HBO Special? If I am totally not getting it set me straight. I leave you with a Q&A found on


HBO:  Why did you decide on a smaller venue for this special?

Sarah Silverman: I wanted the feel of an intimate room, a space that was lo-fi and straightforward.


HBO: Do you have a favorite joke from the special?

Sarah Silverman: Not really. I love them all like stepchildren.

 HBO: Did any audience reaction surprise you?

Sarah Silverman: It’s always this back and forth. They react to me, and then I react to them. I guess like life. If life was everyone stares at you and you have a microphone… Sorry, that’s a shitty analogy.

 HBO: What’s the biggest difference between your stage persona and you as a person off stage?

Sarah Silverman: There is less and less of a difference these days. I’m not saying the opposite of how I really feel like I once did.

HBO: Do you worry about how your audience will react to jokes about controversial topics?

Sarah Silverman: Nope.

 HBO: What was the process for the song Diva, which ends the special?

Sarah Silverman: I said the basic sentiment on ‘Real Time with Bill Maher’ once and thought it would make a good song.Silverman03

 HBO: When did you first realize you were funny?

Sarah Silverman: I was three years old and swore. All the grown-ups laughed.

 HBO: If you weren’t in comedy, what would you be doing?

Sarah Silverman: I’d be working with primates, Dian Fossey-style, or teaching elementary school.

 HBO: How would you describe your sense of humor?

Sarah Silverman: I wouldn’t. There’s nothing worse than comedians describing their comedy.

 HBO: Who is your ideal audience member?

Sarah Silverman: 5’9″ 170 pounds.

 HBO: Who’s your comedic idol?

Sarah Silverman: Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Ruth Gordon, Albert Brooks and Garry Shandling.

 HBO: When was the last time that you actually laughed out loud?

Sarah Silverman: I was talking with Kyle Dunnigan this morning.

 Other HBO air dates are 11.25 at 10:30pm & 3:55am; 11.29 at 11:00pm; 12.04 at 11:00pm; 12.10 at 10:00pm & 3:30am; 12.16 at 11:45pm and 12.18 at 3:55am. Find it also on HBOGo.

  • Anonymous

    “Oh crap, it is comedy why must I over think it.”

    Don’t worry, you didn’t. In fact, you seem to have missed most of the important parts entirely.

    Just for a quick example:
    “In the very beginning she launched into how she watches her porn then went on to say that one time her mother was sick in the hospital. Okay, are we done with the pornography shtick? The in-house audience didn’t seem to follow her either as she declared that it was okay she didn’t do segues. She then proceeded to jump jarringly from bit to bit without any flow whatsoever. Sorry, I guess I need some structure to my comedy.”

    *buzz* Wrong. That explanation was itself a setup for the (admittedly, cliche, for Sarah) punchline of “speaking of gangbangs [or whatever], my mom was sick recently.” It wasn’t her best joke of the night, but mistaking a setup-punchline for an awkward interlude/break from character means either (a) you weren’t paying attention or (b) you were so determined to expect a particular type of comedy (and comedy is about subverting expectations anyway!) that you were unable to see a different type being employed.

  • Kevin

    I want to know how many takes she did this in. It appears she may have done the whole thing 2 or 3 times… (Notice the water bottle… some times the lid is on, sometimes off and without her going for it. Then at the end with the guitar, you have lid on, lid off and then the bottle is gone!)

    • Jef Dinsmore

      There have been standup performances that were edited together after filming multiple nights and then finding the best delivery for each bit. That would certainly screw up the continuity of small moments like the water bottle.

  • Haha Jef. I’m a little younger than you, I think so maybe I didndidn’t mind HOW she said things as much. I thought it was pretty funny and I found myself thinking back to the jokes a couple of days later. Worth the 45 min.

    Oh and she can sing, right?!

    • Jef Dinsmore

      Yes, “Diva” was a great song with a great catch.

      • Anonymous

        Wow. That was the only truly pointless part of the show. There was nothing subversive or unexpected about it — in fact, it was clear that the chorus would be her saying “cunt” over and over from about three lines away when the rhyme was set up.

        It was by far the most cliche and boring part of the show. If any of that surprised you, you were not paying attention.

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