If Tig Notaro invented the art of making light of potentially fatal illness, Sarah Silverman is picking up right where Notaro left off. The comedian’s new Netflix special ‘A Speck of Dust’ dropped yesterday and Silverman finds comedic inspiration from the near-death experience she went through last year, when a “freak-case” of epiglottis sent her to the ICU.
Silverman’s comedy almost always has a dark streak and her latest work is no exception. Her comedy bounces from the gleeful sharing of fun facts about squirrels (“did you know they can only find 80 percent of the acorns they hide? Those little, paranoid, coke heads!”) to musings on growing up with Barbie (“when she’s taking a sh** at 3am she’s in heels - ‘cause she’s a lady!”) to, of course, her hard-hitting abortion jokes (“Abortion does kill. It basically kills your entire day.”).
But where Silverman really shines is when she gets to the sore throat she had while on the road last year that quickly turned into a fight for her life. Silverman keeps the one-liners to a minimum during this “denouement” (as she proudly refers to the ending of her show) but it’s here that we see the comedian’s humanity and the very real way almost dying has changed her.
It’s not just her own death that Silverman has had to reckon with this year. The special was dedicated to Harris Wittels, a writer for The Sarah Silverman Show and a good friend of the comedian, who passed away of a drug overdose last year.
Becky Scott is the editor of The Schmooze. Follow her on Twitter at @arr_scott