Sarah Silverman's Surprisingly Thoughtful Memoir

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Comedian Sarah Silverman recently published a memoir, The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee. Silverman, the producer and star of Comedy Central's The Sarah Silverman Program, has built a career out of saying vulgar and offensive things with a wide-eyed, faux-naive delivery. ("I saw my father's penis once. But it was okay, because I was sooo young… and sooo drunk.") Critics have found it surprising, then, that Silverman's memoir deals forthrightly with topics like shame, anxiety, and depression, and that the author is willing to be thoughtful and sensitive on the page (in between the poop jokes).

  • 'Often More Bleak Than Gut-Busting'  The A.V. Club's Christian Williams finds fewer laughs than expected "for a comedian's memoir," but considers the book a worthwhile read anyway: "It makes up the difference with consistently engaging stories of alternative-comedy icons before they were semi-famous, and by providing dimension to a high-profile stand-up who’s always been accused of being one-note." Ultimately, The Bedwetter turns out to be "a surprisingly moving portrait of a shock comic with a vulnerable side."
  • Wow, She Seems Really Nice!  That's the conclusion Anne Fenn draws at The Globe and Mail: "What surprised me as much as anything in this book was how remarkably balanced, honest, self-aware and good a person is Sarah Silverman ... Despite what her critics say, it's impossible to read this book and believe there are any mean bones, only funny ones, in Sarah Silverman's body. This is not a woman who got into comedy to 'get back at the world,' but to have as much fun in it as possible."
  • An Ironist for Our Times  At the San Francisco Chronicle, Margot Magowan applauds Silverman's willingness to smash taboos for the sake of lampooning ignorance. "Silverman's jokes are not perpetuating racism or sexism but calling it out," Magowan writes. "Get the difference?" She goes on to praise Silverman's inside-out, irony-wreathed approach, agreeing with Silverman's own point that such excesses are called for in a world where racism and bigotry exist in subtle, coded forms.
  • Kind of Strange to See the Real Person  True/Slant's Michael Roston feels a bit uncomfortable with the idea that there's more to Silverman than profanity and ironic racism. "At some weird level, it’s easier to worship your heroes if you imagine that they’re always heroes, and that the character they portray on stage is who they always are ... You don’t want to question their act – what you really want is to imagine that what they’re portraying, what makes you laugh so hard, is real." (Roston also includes an odd aside about his dreams of marrying Silverman and "visiting 12 different drug stores until I find the exact brand of toilet paper she prefers for wiping her divine tucus.")
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