In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

Thumb mv5bnda4ymmwmgity2mzos00odjilthmzdetyza5ngu4zjq5yjhixkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynjk5nda3otk . v1 sy1000 cr0 0 674 1000 al


God knows how many millions of dollars and hours of manpower went into making and remaking Geostorm but it turns out to have been all…

Thumb same kind of different as me

Same Kind of Different as Me

It can be hard to disagree with the heart and events of this true tale, except for when the movie reveals itself to be mighty…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Journal Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Sarah Silverman is a genius (still)

I'm posting this not just because I'm (still) in love with Sarah Silverman (though I am), and not just because she's a genius (though, of course, she is), and not just because of the overt political humor in this short film (though The Great Schlep is an inspired idea), but because of how it relates to recent Scanners posts about comedy and understanding what the joke is. (See posts and discussions regarding "Tropic Thunder," "Juneau," and David Foster Wallace.)

So, please watch the above movie and then provide your interpretation of it, by considering my questions after the jump...



First, notice how Silverman's dismissive attitude toward the Young Black Man uncannily "pre-visioned" John McCain's rude conduct toward Barack Obama in the first presidential debate. (To be fair: Silverman looks at the YBM more times during the few seconds he's onscreen than McCain looked at Obama in 90 minutes.)

Few things are more fascinating to me than why people laugh at something, don't laugh at something, and/or think they should or should not laugh at something. And the humor of Silverman, Dave Chapelle, Judd Apatow and the "South Park" guys, to name a few, often addresses these issues directly. What I find especially intriguing are the conscious and unconscious reasons people have (or, perhaps, tell themselves they have) for laughing or not laughing -- as with the "full retard" gag in "Tropic Thunder."

Here are a few questions I'd like you to ask you to ask yourself -- and feel free to elaborate in comments if you feel so inclined. Forgive me if they seem obvious, but I'm interested in pinpointing your interpretations, and I've seen more than enough evidence in recent weeks (again: "Tropic Thunder," Sarah Palin, David Foster Wallace, Roger Ebert's Creationism piece, Kathleen Murphy's film criticism satire...) to convince me that you can never underestimate the sense of humor of the American public, but you can go broke anyway.

1) Why doesn't Silverman make eye contact with the Young Black Man and why is it funny? (Or not?)

2) Why is this one of the funniest lines ever: "They may seem totally different, but on paper... they're the same"? (You do not have the option of thinking it's not.) And what is the point of the comparisons between Jews and blacks?

3) Notice the cut after she introduces "Nana" and then the YBM. The comic timing is impeccable -- and it looks like something may have been trimmed. What do you think it may have been, and what's funny about taking it out?

3) What is the point of, "That is true, in general," and the sad reaction shot of "Nana"?

4) Why is "It's beyond" one of the funniest things ever uttered by a human being?

5) What is the joke "circumsupersized" based upon?

6) Do you feel any differently about the film when you learn it was commissioned by the Jewish Council for Education and Research (and

7) Are these trick questions?

From a 2007 appearance on Leno:


Popular Blog Posts

The Fall of Toxic Masculinity and the Rise of Feminine Consciousness

A special edition of Thumbnails detailing the recent sexual harassment cases in the entertainment and tech industries...

"Blade Runner" vs. "Blade Runner 2049"

A Great Movie is hidden somewhere within "Blade Runner" and "Blade Runner 2049."

Oscars Could Be Facing Dearth of Diversity Yet Again

A column on the lack of diversity in this year's potential Oscar nominees.

Tears of a Machine: The Humanity of Luv in "Blade Runner 2049"

No character in “Blade Runner 2049” is more relatably human than Luv.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus