Sarah Silverman, Prophet?

In an interview with CBC Radio’s Q, Rabbi Susan Silverman talked about her recent arrest at the Wailing Wall and called her sister, comedian Sarah Silverman, “prophetic”:

The difference between me and my sister is that she is way more prophetic than I will ever be. She’s in the line of the prophets in a way I could never hope to be. Her insights into society, and naming what we need to understand as a society, is truly in the line of the prophets.

To which Q host Jian Ghomeshi simply responded, “Wow.”

Just to be honest, before I go on: to me, Sarah Silverman will always be Ned Schneebly’s mean girlfriend from School of Rock, so I don’t really know much about her comedy. And from what I know, I’m not sure I’d characterize Silverman as a prophet. Silverman is an atheist and racist-ish/actually she’s really, really racist. But I still get what Susan Silverman is trying to say. Sarah Silverman’s work on things like sex, gender, and religion is provocative, and (hopefully) makes us rethink the way we understand the world. And isn’t that what prophecy is really all about?

For example, what she has to say about religion in Jesus is Magic is kind of insightful, when you think about it.

Who cares? Different religions. I guess the only time it’s an issue I suppose would be if you’re having a baby, you have to figure out how you want to raise your baby or whatever, which still would not be an issue for us. Because you know, we’d just be honest, and say ‘Mommy is one of the chosen people, and Daddy believes that Jesus is magic.’

I believe that laughing about religion is part of understanding religious difference. Being able to say, “Our beliefs seem ridiculous to you, your beliefs seem ridiculous to us, but hey, we’re all people, and we believe what we believe earnestly” is an important thing. For example, I’m a “none”, which means I’m so indecisive that I can’t even be an agnostic. See? I made a joke about how ridiculous my beliefs are. Yet I still believe them.

Now that I’ve totally ruined Sarah Silverman’s joke by explaining it, I’ll leave you with another one of her religion jokes,

I’m Jewish, but I’m totally not.

Boom. The inherent ambiguity of religion identity, in one line. Even if Sarah’s not exactly a prophet, and if a lot of her comedy is deeply, deeply problematic, she still has interesting things to say about religion.


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