Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sarah Silverman: Genius

Leonardo da Vinci wrote, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” By his gauge, Sarah Silverman has to be considered one of the most sophisticated comedians alive today.

Yes, I’m talking about the same woman who simulated f**king a sack of Babybel cheese. I’m talking about the woman who’s said things like, “Whether you’re gay or bisexual, it doesn’t matter ... because at the end of the day they’re both gross” and “whether you’re black or white or Asian — but just those three — we’re all the same.”

Silverman’s genius is that she crafts faux intolerance that is so ludicrous, it makes its very real counterparts seem even more ridiculous. For example, the aforementioned gay/bisexual joke is funny because the idea of someone secretly feeling that way (that homosexuality is “gross”) is preposterous. (Even if you feel that way yourself, you have to admit — it’s senseless. Not all emotions are legitimate, especially the knee-jerk ones.)

This is so obvious, I feel self-conscious pointing it out. But the thing is (which Silverman keeps revealing): Apparently, it’s NOT that obvious. Because people keep getting offended by it.

Sarah Silverman spoke at the 2010 TED Conference last week, and...apparently offended more than a few. Afterward, via Twitter, TED organizer Chris Anderson criticized Silverman, saying her speech had been “god-awful.” She replied in kind: “Kudos to @TEDChris for making TED an unsafe haven for all! You’re a barnacle of mediocrity on Bill Gates’ asshole.”

Then AOL founder Steve Case chimed in, writing to Silverman (in an open tweet): “Shame on you. The sad thing is you’re not that funny.”

To which she responded (and my God, I love this): “@SteveCase You should be nicer to the last person on earth w an aol account.”

The video has yet to be released (it may never be), but the main offending joke seems to be Silverman’s claim that she’d like to adopt a retarded child, but...

“The only problem with adopting a retarded child is that the retarded child, when you are 80 is, well, still retarded and that [I] wouldn’t enjoy the freedoms of setting them free at age 18, so [I’m] only going to adopt a retarded child with a terminal illness so it has an expiration date.”

So simple. So...why are we still not getting the joke?


P.S. It is rumored that half the TED audience gave Silverman a standing ovation. Perfect.


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