Sarah Silverman, The Bedwetter
A memoir that’s at once filthy and blasphemous and undeniably touching
If you’re looking for a celebrity memoir in which the word “fartish” is used as an adjective, you’ve come to the right place. Sarah Silverman has built a career as the deceptively nice Jewish girl with the filthy mouth, the one who’s always game to demolish her super cute faÃ§ade by going right in for the doody jokes and performing gasp-worthy routines on race and gender and what it might be like to have sex with God. So here’s a warning: If frequent and gleeful use of the c-word offends your sensibilities (Sarah, of course, was dropping f-bombs almost as soon as she learned to talk), The Bedwetter probably isn’t for you. But those who appreciate the sneaky intelligence that underlies Silverman’s antics will find much to love about this surprisingly touching audiobook, narrated by the author as if she were your constantly-funny pal who occasionally drops her guard to reveal an unsquashable streak of vulnerability.
“Tragically, my life has only been moderately fucked up,” Silverman seems to apologize at the beginning of the book, and while she doesn’t have a salacious memoir-worthy tale of childhood abuse or abandonment, it’s fair to say that her formative years were more angst-ridden than your average suburbanite’s. The title The Bedwetter is played for comic effect, but there’s pathos beneath the giggles — it refers to the embarrassing problem Silverman faced well on into her teenage years, when the idea of attending a slumber party was panic attack-inducing. If peeing the bed was a bright yellow sign that she could not control her own body, then what followed was even worse: Sarah, ever the outspoken class clown, suddenly turned quiet. She “caught” depression “as quickly and as casually as someone catches the flu,” and by the time she was 13, her doctor had her on a zombifying dose of 16 Xanax pills a day.
But this story has a happy ending, of course. That listless little girl eventually regained her voice, which she then used to delight, offend and blaspheme in equal measures. Her memoir eventually gets a bit bogged down in nitty-gritty details of her most notorious scandals — from her use of the word “chink” in a sketch that had Asian activist groups up in arms, to her many appearances on a variety of Worst Dressed lists. It’s as if she knows her entire audience has been imagining her peeing, and it’s time to shift the balance of power back. As Silverman readily admits, you’ll most likely consume this book while making a bowel movement. And that’s OK by her: “I’m honored that you’ve chosen to bring me into this very private and vulnerable part of your life.”