Sarah Silverman Show Pushes the Envelope

The “Sarah Silverman Program” has the title character having sex with God.

Comic Sarah Silverman not happy that God is cuddling with her after sex on Comedy Central’s ‘Sarah Silverman Program’ Comedy Central consummated its season of “the Sarah Silverman Program” last night by featuring the title character having sex with God, and then trying to brush him off after a night of lovemaking. Silverman was shown in bed with an amorous Almighty, whom she referred to as “Black God,” portrayed by actor Tucker Smallwood, a former NBC television director who also served in the Army in Vietnam.

We’ve certainly come a long way from the days when Lucy and Desi, who were married not only on the show but in real life, had to be shown in separate beds. I’m no prude, and this is certainly no less raunchy than a typical episode of “South Park.” Still, it seems to me that comedy was simply funnier before writers could fall back on shock value for humorous effect.

FILED UNDER: Popular Culture, Religion, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Fersboo says:

    I wonder if Sarah will next have sex with Allah or Yaweh. That would be a riot!!!!!!!!!!!!11

    Man she p0wnd those Christians, what hypocrites!

  2. Caliban Darklock says:

    I don’t think this is purely shock value; she’s smarter than that. Personally, I think you have to be Jewish to appreciate a lot of Sarah’s humor, and this bit in particular has a lot of inside-joke context falling through the cracks.

    And if you have to explain it, it’s not funny anymore. Better to leave it funny for those who understand it, and let those who don’t think it’s not funny. The alternative is to completely destroy it.

  3. James Joyner says:

    you have to be Jewish to appreciate a lot of Sarah’s humor

    That could well be. Somehow, Jerry Seinfeld, Buddy Hackett, Adam Sandler, Robert Klein, Woody Allen, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Billy Crystal, Rodney Dangerfield, the Marx Brothers, and the Three Stooges managed to get their material across to me, though.

    Then again, it might explain the Jerry Lewis thing.

  4. legion says:

    No James, nothing explains the Jerry Lewis thing…

  5. Steven Plunk says:

    I’m presently barricaded in my office waiting for the mobs to riot in protest of such an insult.

    While I find such comedy distasteful I’m sure some found it funny. But in this country we don’t kill people over this kind of thing we complain and change the channel. I didn’t have to change it since it was on too late for me to watch.

    Christianity is bigger than this and will last much longer than her show. Most of us recognize this is what we can expect in such a free society. We also know what the alternative is so we deal with it.

  6. Caliban Darklock says:

    I don’t think you have to be Jewish to understand every Jewish humorist. Just some of them, and just some of the time. Alan Sherman’s “Harvey and Sheila” is not as funny if you don’t know “Hava Nagila”. It’s still funny… just not as funny.

    Sarah frequently does very obscure bits that are only funny to other Jews. Usually, you can pick up on the rest of her act and still think she’s funny… but sometimes it gets really thick and deep, so if you’re not Jewish you just don’t get most of it, and the rest isn’t all that funny.

    This is one of those times. I find this bit hilarious. If it had been done slightly differently, I would have been offended. If it hadn’t been done by a Jew, I would have been offended. In fact, if it had been done by any other Jew, I probably would have been offended. But it’s Sarah, so I get it.

  7. Anderson says:

    Fortunately, Sarah Silverman is not — so far as I know — employed by the Edwards campaign.

    But after this, they’ll probably think she’s *exactly* the new spokesperson they need.

  8. I am dying to know how being Jewish would help make this funny. Indeed, for some reason, I find that assertion funny (funnier than the described bit, in fact). I can see how certain common experiences make things funny or not (I think that Steve Martin’s LA Story is radically funnier if you have lived in SoCal, and indeed seem unfunny if you haven’t–but then again, I could explain why.

    Understand: I ask in a tone of semi-amused confusion, not out of any sense of outrage or even confrontation. Despite my own religious views, I am not going to get all up and arms over Silverman’s show–I just will avoid watching it.

  9. Wickedpinto says:

    Sarah is almost exclusively a schock style comic. I think she’s very funny since only a woman can get away with saying and doing some of the things that she does so she has a portion of the market isolated.

    Comparing her to SP though is unfair. SP uses a lot of shock and controversial material but it has a heart, there is always an underlying tale of lessons learned. Most of the shock of SP is their ability to usually to take a person or groups own opinions, turning them inside out, and then coming back at the end with exactly the same conclusions, after pointing out a generaly real absurdity by particular groups.

  10. Tlaloc says:

    I’m not sure I would say that Lucy wasn’t shock value too. She ran very against the grain of the notions at the time of how a woman “should” act. It’s just that it was pre-Jerry Springer (Now there’s some shock value we could do without).

  11. carpeicthus says:

    Anyone who’s seen the Aristocrats should never be shocked by anything Sarah does again. Her speech there was, sadly, much funnier than her show.

  12. aloah says:

    Don’t you just love it when these so-called Jewish intelligentsia “critics” are commenting on their fellow tribe members? Everything they do, no matter how base, stupid, sick, degenerate, or just plain boring is always depicted and described in the most gushing terms, like “she’s not just a critic of PC culture: She’s a connoisseur” or
    “She handles the complex algorithms of taboo – who’s allowed to joke about what, to whom, using what terminology – with instant precision..”

    It’s all “pat their fellow tribesman on the back”, all the time, no matter what they are doing. They see another jew and they mentally Vogue. It’s always brilliant, always cutting edge, always breaking down barriers.