Sarah Silverman Maison Symphonique, Montreal QC, July 30

Sarah Silverman Maison Symphonique, Montreal QC, July 30
"I'm excited," the guy next to me says to his companion. "She's probably my favourite female comedian." I could get irked by this — it's sort of the older, slightly more sophisticated cousin of "she's pretty funny for a woman" — but I'm not going to. However he meant it, I'm going to take it to mean "Sarah Silverman is a comedian who's a woman and she's not going to let you forget it and I love her for it."
Silverman's set at the intimidatingly majestic Maison Symphonique — a venue that seems better suited to a gala than a one-woman show — was thick with the kind of gross, intimate, TMI-heavy material that her fans have come to expect, delivered in her wide-eyed nice-but-secretly-pervy girl-next-door manner. Jokes about abortions, periods, laser hair removal, and semen were plentiful, though Silverman mostly tends to err on the side of bemused rather than sleazy.
She's one of the few comics who can handle edgy material and make it feel justified; she pushes you till you're teetering on the precipice of comfort, then yanks you back — you're safe, but breathless. After one such bit, the audience let out an overly enthusiastic collective guffaw. "Yeah, that's a relief laugh," Silverman said. "If I were writing a book on how comedy works, I'd call that a relief laugh."
She was not as polished as you might expect, although her occasional stumbles probably wouldn't have been noticeable if she didn't berate herself for them. She seemed a bit subdued, or tired, and blew her nose several times, which she managed to make feel like a crucial part of her routine. Her show was surprisingly and pleasantly personal; she talked about meeting a young protestor outside an abortion clinic and making her laugh even though the girl told Silverman "God hates you," and a couple of bits about her father's childhood and her own recent emergency surgery felt like stories rather than routines (in a good way).
There was a fun bit about squirrels where she got maybe the most animated she had been all night. She didn't mention Hillary Clinton, nor the recent hacking of her Twitter account by Anonymous, which is totally understandable but also maybe too bad — if anyone can spin gold out of social media drama it's her.