Sisterhood Blog

Sarah Silverman Ends 'Are Women Funny?' Debate

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share

“Okay, last night I was visited by Jesus Christ, like the Jesus Christ. And he told me he was really bummed by all these people who use my name for intolerance and oppression.”

And so begins Sarah Silverman’s latest viral video, in which Christ comes to Sarah’s living room to tell her that she has been chosen to deliver his message about personhood. “Fertilized eggs aren’t people. People are people. But people who believe fertilized eggs are people are people too, and you have to love them, and you’re not better than them.”

Silverman then goes on to explain that the lines between religion and state have been increasingly blurred over the past fifty years, and how women are paying the price for the ongoing erosion of our reproductive rights.

I love this woman.

The place of women in comedy has been a big debate that has lost steam in recent years, and for good reason. If a Christopher Hitchens-type were to pronounce that “women aren’t funny” in next month’s Vanity Fair we would all just laugh. Hard. What, with the success of “Bridesmaids,” “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Girls,” and “The Mindy Project,” there is no longer an exposed nerve for this statement to touch. We always knew are funny, and now everyone else knows it too.

The majority of the women behind these projects identify as feminists, and some of them have made appearances at rallies and pro-women organizations’ lunches and the like. For the most part, though, their strongest feminist statement is simply being a woman in a man’s world, and kicking butt there. Silverman, on the other hand, gets her hands dirty, like, really pretty dirty, taking on the political issues that are most threatening women right now.

I am not trying to minimize the work of ladies like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler or Lena Dunham. They have done very important things like introducing a world weary of dick humor to the comedic possibilities of the female anatomy. It’s just that it is nice to see a funny woman use her funniness and fame to aggressively advocate for women’s rights, like Silverman does.

Of course, the fact that Silverman never achieved as mainstream success as the other ladies gives her a little more freedom to say exactly how she feels about abortion without alienating her viewers in, say, Texas. Still, she is putting her very long neck on the line, and risking future fame and fortunes, to defend progressive politics.

“Jesus” follows a series of other schticky political videos from Silverman, including one challenging voter ID laws and another in which she offers to scissor Sheldon Adelson for a $100 million dollars donation to Obama instead of Romney during the last presidential election. (Both these ads, by the way, were paid for by an organization called the Jewish Council for Education and Research.)

In all of her political videos, Silverman uses her trademark “Who me?” grin and upspeak voice as the set-up for the slightly shocking or just totally offensive punchlines. The finish, however, is always sincere and to the point. This lady is earnest about change. I can only hope that other comedians and entertainers follow her lead, instead of playing it safe with environmental causes or hiding their politics all together.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: women, funny, humor, Sarah Silverman, Jewish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.