Sarah Silverman’s brand of humour is not for everyone. The Jewish-American comedian’s favourite topics include race, religion, genitalia, bodily fluids, and just about everything which does not make for polite dinner conversation.
Naturally, these themes figure prominently in her unsurprisingly named autobiography The Bedwetter. But make no mistake, there’s a lot more going on in the book than just Silverman’s trademark irony and filthy humour (not that I can ever get enough of those).
The title itself – which refers to Silverman’s decade-long struggle with bedwetting until the age of 18 – indicates what readers can expect from this book: No-holds-barred humour tinged with wry and moving honesty.
Growing up in New Hampshire (“where cows are well done, and Jews are rare”) with a tight-knit family, she was schooled in the art of cussing by her proud father from the age of three. It was also then that she first had a sense of her comedic destiny.
Seeing the open-mouthed “delight” of random passersby when she proclaims “B*tch! B*stard! Damn! Sh*t!” in public, she realises from that tender age that (a) bad language makes people laugh, and (b) she really liked making people laugh. (“From that moment on”, she recalls “everything I did was in search of that rush.”)
It seems like a childhood which would have been fairly idyllic had it not been tainted (literally and figuratively) by enuresis, or bedwetting. Besides giving her an understandable dread of sleepovers and religious camps, it might have been a cause in Silverman’s long bout of depression as well.
I am inclined to think that her struggle with bedwetting also contributed to her penchant for off-colour humour, a proclivity which she would later put to good – and hilariously offensive – use on the comedy shows Saturday Night Live and The Larry Sanders Show, and her own productions such as Jesus is Magic and The Sarah Silverman Program.
Interspersed along the main trajectory of her life are her reflections on a variety of topics. These include her own accounts of how some of her most notorious/misunderstood jokes came to be, her inability to clothe herself without landing on a million Worst Dressed lists, and her experiences as a Jewish comedian and woman who has upset viewers from just about every demographic group.
A must for Silverman’s fans, I’d also recommend this to those who appreciate sly humour and aren’t offended by copious mentions of genitalia and pee.
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