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The Sarah Silverman Program aired from February 2007 until April 2010 on Comedy Central.
Sqeaky-voiced stand-up comic Sarah Silverman , known as the " cute girl with a potty mouth" starred as herself in this raunchy sitcom set in Valley Villiage, California. A complete slacker, she did not have a job, mooched off her indulgent sister Laura ( played by Sarah's real-life sister Laura Silverman), and exhibited an almost childlike self-absorption and obliviousness in the feelings of others. She insulted everyone equally ( gays, the handicapped, the elderly) with politically incorrect remarks, but did it with such sweet innocence that few were offended. Laura was a nurse, Brian and Steve ( Brian Posehn, Steve Agee) the frumpy gay couple who lived together nearby and Officer Jay ( Jay Johnston) Laura's lunky boyfriend of whom Sarah was insanely jealous. Laura was Sarah's best friend and only family ( their parents had died when they were young). Sarah was so afraid that Jay would " steal" Laura that she decided to destroy him. The program frequently lapsed into fantasy segments, for example with Sarah stepping into a music video ( usually with obscene lyrics), and in the first season finale, God turned Jay into a bag of corn chips, which Sarah immediately ate.
An Article from Time Magazine
"So This Woman Walks Into A Sitcom..."
Friday, Jan. 26, 2007
By JAMES PONIEWOZIK
Women aren't funny. This is the premise of a long essay in January's Vanity Fair by Christopher Hitchens, best known for his broadsides against Mother Teresa and defenses of the Iraq war. His first theory as to why--in a nutshell--is that women don't need to make men laugh to impress them. (Either that, Chris, or they just don't try that hard in front of you.) His second--in a smaller nutshell--is that they make babies. "Those who risk agony and death to bring children into this fiasco simply can't afford to be too frivolous," he wrote. "They are innately aware of a higher calling that is no laughing matter."
You might expect Sarah Silverman, comedian, to be innately aware of a different higher calling, namely, to give Hitchens a rhetorical beatdown. But you would be wrong. "I got all these e-mails from magazines saying, 'Hey, would you write a rebuttal to this?'" she says. "I read it, and I thought, I'm just not offended by this at all. It is absolutely true--if you're going to generalize--that culturally, women don't have to be funny to attract the opposite sex. None of it made me mad, but none of that stuff ever does. It just doesn't affect me."
There are a few ways of reading that response. You could call it apathy, although Silverman cares about being funny. You could call it a kind of blas postfeminism--What is this, like, 1973?--although Silverman's stand-up has always had a strong woman's consciousness. Or you could just call it confidence, which Silverman, 36, has every reason to feel. For more than a decade, she has been known as a comic's comic for her demurely provocative stage act--captured in the 2005 movie Jesus Is Magic--in which she delivers jokes about AIDS, race, the Holocaust, 9/11 and ethnic stereotypes with disconcerting intimacy. (One of her most famous jokes: "I was raped by a doctor--which is so bittersweet for a Jewish girl.")
On Feb. 1, she adapts her Jesus persona into sitcom form with The Sarah Silverman Program, a surreal mix of comedy, singing (she has a lovely, musical-theater voice) and animation that pushes more buttons than an Empire State Building elevator operator. In one episode, her character ("Sarah Silverman") sleeps with God, who is black, then blows him off, but not without guilt. "I'm not one of those people," she protests, "who's like, 'Oh, God is black--is he going to steal the moon or something?'" In another, she takes in a homeless man to upstage her sister's humanitarian boyfriend: "I'm going to change him from a homeless person to a real person!"
The Sarah Silverman Program (Thursdays, 10:30 p.m. E.T.) airs on--Hitchens, take note--guy-friendly Comedy Central, the network that gave us The Man Show (which her boyfriend, Jimmy Kimmel, co-hosted). How did Silverman get invited into this male cable tree house? Executive vice president of original programming and development Lauren Corrao says Silverman's a rare woman comic whom guys like: "She's a beautiful woman, but her sensibility is very male." (Silverman has female fans too, although anecdotally, women seem more likely to find her grating or offensive than men do.) The most common explanation for her appeal to young guys is her smokily pretty looks, but you can only take that so far. Men don't need comedy to look at babes--they have an entire porn-filled Internet for that--and you can ask Jenny McCarthy how long hotness can sustain a comic career.
The bigger reason has more to do with what men like to laugh at than with what they like to look at. Silverman learned at a young age to work blue from a male mentor--her dad, who taught her to swear for laughs--and as a grownup, she dishes out potty jokes in man-sized portions. In her sitcom's pilot, her character tries to pass gas to impress her friends and does, er, something else; a spotlight hits her pained face as the set goes into a theatrical blackout. ("It's like Our Town," Silverman says, "if Our Town were about s____ing your pants.")
Another influence was growing up Jewish in New Hampshire, "a blond, L.L. Bean environment," says Silverman, where she recalls being called "ape arms" for her hirsuteness. Like a lot of comedians, she considers her humor a "survival skill," and if the epitome of male humor is bonding-by-insult, she can snap a towel as well as any dude. She won Kimmel over with a put-down at a Friars Club roast for Hugh Hefner. "We just came across the index card she wrote the joke on," he says. "I introduced her, and she said, 'Jimmy Kimmel: he's fat and has no charisma. Watch your back, Danny Aiello.'" She's like the smart pretty girl who makes fun of the football players. Young men find her if not attainable--although there is the whole Kimmel thing--at least accessible. "You want to make out with her," says her sitcom's co-creator, Rob Schrab, "but she's also the kind of girl you can hang out with and say anything."
But it's the larger themes of her work that have most in common with male comics. Like Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), she combines filthy humor with social commentary, playing a naif who sweetly embodies ugly prejudices. Like Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm), she plays a self-centered alter ego who stomps on p.c. taboos. There's a Fear Factor aggressiveness to this brand of humor--daring people to swallow something unpleasant--which may be why fewer women have done it, or at least have been accepted for it.
One of those few is Roseanne Barr, who feels a kinship with Silverman. "The best comics are mirrors, and she is full-length," Barr e-mailed TIME. "She is early Lenny Bruce if he was a girl who grew up reading Hannah Arendt." Says comedian Bob Odenkirk, who worked with Silverman in the '90s on HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David: "Guys have a certain assaultive brashness, and she has that strength in her voice. There's a kind of plainspoken harshness to her that's disarming and surprising. And a big part of making people laugh is to surprise them."
Her breakout surprise came in the 2005 documentary The Aristocrats, which tells the history of a famously dirty joke about a vaudeville family with an unspeakable act. Whereas most of the male comedians try to top one another with gross embellishments, Silverman delivers it as a quiet monologue about being raped as a girl--fictionally, and ludicrously--by elderly talk-show host Joe Franklin. It was not the dirtiest but the most disturbing--and therefore funniest--take on the joke in the movie.
The Sarah Silverman Program plays off that tension--darkness and childlike naivet --hilariously, although in a lighter-spirited way. The show has a loose, familiar, indie feel, in part because Silverman's real sister Laura plays her TV sister, the rest of the cast are longtime friends (along with her dog), and the pilot was shot in her apartment, which was re-created on a set for the series after, Silverman says, her landlord kicked the production out.
But filming without permission was a mild liberty to take by the standards of fictional Sarah. "I'm just like you," she chirps over the opening credits. "I don't have a job, and my sister pays my rent." In a typical episode, she has brunch with her friends, sticks them with the bill and gets into bizarre scrapes because of her constant need for attention (especially her sister's); her clueless insensitivity to minorities, the disabled and the elderly; and her penchant for drinking cough syrup while driving.
And yet for all Sarah's narcissism, neediness and sociopathy, she's also sympathetic and genuinely wants to be a good person. She's really an overgrown child--another type that male comics usually favor. In one bouncy musical number, she sings, "I always never cry/ And I've always wondered why/ I always have to watch myself when I go pee." The show lets the confession that she can't cry hang there without elaboration, but it suggests a pathos to the character that goes beyond pee jokes. "In music or poetry or movies, I'm a fan of heartbreak," Silverman says. "I think most of my stand-up is either silly, gratuitous bathroom humor or is heartbreaking, if you break it down by subject matter."
The Sarah Silverman Program may just be the closest that boutique cable comedy comes to a date movie: a little heartbreak for her, a little peepee humor for him. Silverman doesn't like to speculate on the show's gender appeal: "I just like to think of myself as a comic." But she may have ended up unwittingly rebutting Christopher Hitchens the best way possible: by having, and getting, the last laugh.
A Review from The New York Times
Cruel, Clueless and, for a Change, Female
By ALESSANDRA STANLEY
Published: February 1, 2007
On network television funny women make jokes at their own expense. On cable they have license to poke fun at everyone else.
The comic heroine Sarah Silverman plays on her new Comedy Central series, The Sarah Silverman Program, is not adorably neurotic. Actually she thinks she is just fine: not too fat, not too single, not too lazy or unemployed. It's the people around her who are pathetic. A friend calls, saying, Hi, it's Natalie. Sarah, who is sprawled on her couch watching television, replies, Tall, thin Natalie, or Natalie Bishop?
Sarah is childish, narcissistic and manipulative Mean Girls meets Larry David. I'm just like you, she says in a sugar-toned introductory voice-over. I live in Valley Village, I don't have a job, and my sister pays the rent.
And Ms. Silverman's show about nothing is quite funny. The episodes are not as layered or intricately constructed as Mr. David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, but the humor is fueled by a similar jolt of the politically incorrect. There are few other forms of humor on Comedy Central, of course, so Ms. Silverman's stands out mostly because the slurs are spoken by a pretty young woman, and a knowing one.
On Curb, the fictional Larry David is unaware he is giving offense and indignant when accused of it. Sarah says horrible things about homosexuals, blacks, women, police officers, the disabled, the homeless and leukemia patients with a guileless cruelty.
Maybe it's a feminist milestone: finally, a woman as cheerfully, innocently malevolent as the Malcolm McDowell character in A Clockwork Orange (though slightly less prone to violence). And Ms. Silverman, 36, whose stand-up routine, Jesus Is Magic, was made into a movie in 2005, the same year she appeared in the documentary The Aristocrats with a startling joke ( Joe Franklin raped me ), is a new kind of female sitcom heroine, very different from the generation of Phyllis Diller or Joan Rivers or Roseanne Barr and Paula Poundstone.
And Sarah is certainly different from network sitcom heroines: not at all like the winsome shrinking violet Tina Fey plays on 30 Rock or even the struggling divorcee Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays on The New Adventures of Old Christine. Sarah is even more insensitive and self-absorbed than Elaine was on Seinfeld.
And that alone is noteworthy. Comedy Central, home to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, South Park, Blue Collar TV and late-night infomercials for Girls Gone Wild, is one of the more male-oriented cable networks: Lifetime for Jackasses.
In a promotional spot for her show Ms. Silverman stands on an outdoor court in tennis whites and urges viewers to tune in. And hey, she says with a Goodbye, Columbus smile, for most of you who watch Comedy Central this is the closest you're going to get to a vagina.
Currently Ms. Silverman is the only woman to have her own weekly series on Comedy Central; her show has been picked up for a six-week engagement. And only a few have been given comedy specials: comics like Wanda Sykes and most recently Lisa Lampanelli, whose stand-up routine, Dirty Girl, consists of her heckling her mostly gay audience in Don-Rickles-in-a-dress mode (though blacks are also a favorite target).
Ms. Silverman is as scatological as any young male comedian, relying on flatulence jokes and crude sexual remarks, along with a steady stream of aspersions about gay people and blacks. At a coffee shop she calls her sister gay, then turns to her two gay neighbors apologetically. I don't mean gay like homosexual, she says sweetly. I mean gay like retarded.
She is funniest doing absurdist material. In one episode she steps from the narrative into a music video in which she sings a sad, folksy ballad about world peace in a white gauzy dress as ocean waves foam in the background.
When her loving, uncritical sister, Laura (played by Ms. Silverman's real-life sister, Laura Silverman), comes to pick her up from jail, Laura and the arresting officer (Jay Johnston) instantly fall in love. When she tells the officer that her last name is Silverman as they walk back to her car, the officer says tenderly, I believe the Holocaust was completely uncalled for. Laura, just as smitten, coos, Oh, don't worry about it.
Comics are supposed to serve as navigators, using ridicule and parody to chart human nature and social conventions. Their riffs are only as funny as they are unexpected and unsettling, and surprise is hard to pull off on a 24-hour cable network entirely devoted to humor. After a while viewers turn numb to even the best material, nodding like professional comedians who acknowledge a colleague's joke not by laughing but by saying, Funny.
Ms. Silverman's sardonic humor is not really new to Comedy Central, but her persona is.
She is not the old model of the self-deprecating female moaning about the size of her thighs and bad boyfriends or the crude male comic complaining about his girlfriend's thighs and bad boyfriends.
Sarah is the comic embodiment of a feline, self-centered femininity. Ms. Silverman's material is as raw and profane as any man's, but served up slyly.
THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM
Comedy Central, tonight at 10:30, Eastern and Pacific times; 9:30, Central time.
Sarah Silverman, Rob Schrab, Heidi Herzon and Dan Sterling, executive producers; Mr. Schrab, director of the pilot and several episodes; Gary Mann, executive in charge of production for Comedy Central.
WITH: Sarah Silverman (Sarah Silverman), Laura Silverman (Laura Silverman), Brian Posehn (Brian), Steve Agee (Steve), Jay Johnston (Officer Jay).
An Article from USA TODAY
Silverman gets with 'Program'
By Bill Keveney,
Sarah Silverman the TV character is unwittingly offensive, telling an old lady she looks old, lying to get out of helping a friend move and breaking out in a musical number about bodily waste.
Sarah Silverman the stand-up comic knows exactly what she is doing with The Sarah Silverman Program, a six-episode series premiering Thursday (10:30 ET/PT) on Comedy Central. She'll also host the 2007 Spirit Awards for small films (IFC, Feb. 24, 5 p.m. ET/2 PT).
"The show is so absurd, but we play it so real," Silverman says by telephone as she walks her dog, Duck, who plays her dog, Doug. ("I really felt I needed to protect his anonymity.")
Silverman, 36, building off the film of her stage show, Jesus Is Magic, wanted to make a comedy that would be "very small and real with a musical number, say." A dose of the absurd was added when she collaborated with producers Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab, who are "writing a screenplay about the world being attacked by giant ants," Silverman says.
TV Sarah is not Silverman, but the character bears her name, and her real-life sister Laura plays her sister Laura.
But TV Sarah differs in many ways. She's unemployed, mooches off her sister, has two "gigantic, orange and gay" neighbors (played by Brian Posehn and Steve Agee) and gets arrested by Officer Jay (Jay Johnston) for driving under the influence of cough medicine. (Jimmy Kimmel, her real-life boyfriend, has a cameo in one episode.)
Sarah also steals batteries from a convenience store (Heroes' Masi Oka plays a clerk) and, in what may be a television first, has a one-night stand with God.
But she always means well, says Silverman, who has spent time in broadcast television (Saturday Night Live, Greg the Bunny) and film "schools" of a sort (School for Scoundrels, School of Rock).
"In most of my comedy, I'm the earnest ," she says. When told that her choice of noun can't run in the newspaper, she suggests another one that also can't be printed. Disappointed, she settles for the printable but watered-down "jerk."
Even with the innocent persona, Silverman has drawn criticism over the years for crossing lines of political correctness with comments about race, sex and other topics.
In fact, Silverman is called "Queen of the Politically Incorrect" in a press release announcing the Spirit Awards gig.
But she says her comedy isn't meant to be hurtful and that she feels better doing racial material before mixed crowds.
Comedy Central program chief Lauren Corrao says Silverman is an excellent fit for a cable network that is home to the ever-controversial South Park. She's smart "and pushes the envelope with her comedy but is not afraid to be silly or scatological, all things that appeal to the young male audience" that the network courts. "It doesn't hurt that she's good-looking, either."
A Review from Entetainment Weekly
The Sarah Silverman Program (2007)
A-By Daniel Fierman Daniel
With Sarah Silverman, it's just a matter of time before things get dirty. But by way of introducing herself to viewers of Comedy Central, she starts slow. We meet her gay neighbors. Her eternally patient sister. Her dog. It's enough to make you wonder what the hell happened to the woman who in The Aristocrats accused geriatric TV host Joe Franklin of raping her. (It played like high comedy. Trust us.) But before long, she treats her audience to a cheerful comparison between her sister's nether regions and Cat Stevens' face. Or has sex with God who, in Silverman's telling, talks dirty and is so needy that he has to be kicked out of bed. And that's not even touching the extended lyrical ode to a fart gone awry.
Yep. That's our girl. Silverman's game should be familiar to most comedy fans by now: She tilts her impish face toward the camera, widens her huge brown eyes, and then in the tiniest of little-girl voices unleashes a torrent of vicious and uproarious filth. The Sarah Silverman Program, her new half-hour show (premiering Feb. 1), is more or less just a miniaturized version of her 2005 movie Jesus Is Magic featuring wan plots that serve as carriers for savage cultural observations, tiresome musical numbers, random sketches, and smart-bomb one-liners. (The first episode, for example, concerns a quest for batteries.) But where her movie overstayed its welcome, the quick-shot format of TV works beautifully. The result is haphazard, amoral, ridiculous, wildly offensive...and, you know, totally hilarious.
A Review from The New Yorker
The Sarah Silverman Program puts the mean back in funny.
by Tad Friend
February 5, 2007
Hostility may be the engine of humor, but the broadcast networks dread its snarl. Whenever they air a truly mean sitcom, such as the long-gone Buffalo Bill or Action, the audience flees, so TV executives have learned to muffle their comedies barbs in Only kidding smirks and You're the greatest hugs. Even on Seinfeld, which forbade hugs and learning, the core foursome reserved their mockery for outsiders, for the close-talkers and re-gifters. They were there for one another the network made sure that we saw the love beneath.
So The Sarah Silverman Program, much the meanest sitcom in years and one of the funniest premieres this week, perforce, on Comedy Central. Silverman, the telescope-necked comedienne, has had trouble finding the right showcase for the contrary elements of her persona: the post-feminist tomboy who's sexually cocky and emotionally frigid, the eerily alert counterpuncher who's totally self-involved. (In her 2005 concert movie, Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic, Silverman makes out with her own mirrored image.) She is best known for jarring The Aristocrats, the documentary about a legendary joke, with her deadpan claim that Joe Franklin raped me, and for dropping the epithet chinks into a joke on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Unlike many comedians, Silverman excavates prejudice less by digging into her own background (though in one episode she insincerely promises full-frontal Jew-dity ) than by strip-mining the turf of other minorities, particularly blacks and gays. Her game is to throw out stereotypes in a little-girl voice and with a winsome look that suggests no offense can legitimately be taken. You might admire Silverman's boldness, or you might feel that there's something sneaky in her appropriation of slurs that never wounded her that it's the standup equivalent of the person who cuts in line and then can't believe you object.
The show's credits beguile us into anticipating yet another wry, candid-seeming look at a comedian's private life, la Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm ; as a low-tech slide show on Silverman and her friends and her Los Angeles neighborhood clicks by, she says things like Hi, I'm Sarah Silverman, and I'm just like you. I live in Valley Village, I don't have a job, and my sister pays the rent! But Silverman's show is both shaggier in structure and flintier in sensibility than its precursors. After gulping cough syrup, the Sarah character takes a Pee-wee's Playhouse -style animated trip into space and has a giddy exchange with the Loch Ness monster. She also regularly breaks into soulful songs that end up being, in a childhood-anxiety sort of way, about poop ( I really love my life and I'll also tell you what / If I find a stick I'll put it in your mama's butt / And pull it out and stick / The doody in her eye! ). The show's only formal rigor is Sarah's own: her beefs and run-ins always showcase her intolerance (at the expense of Silverman's winsome streak). When a driver in a red Ford Focus pulls up alongside her red Ford Focus and cheerily observes, Hey, same car!, Sarah parrots his remark with an expression of utter spastic disgust.
When God admires one of her songs and materializes in front of her, Sarah, surprised that he's black, inquires, Are you God's black friend? Later, calling him Black God, she reassures him, I'm not one of those people who's, like, Oh, God is black is he going to steal the moon, or something? (Much of Silverman's comedy springs from the device of digging the hole deeper.) To prove her color blindness, she seduces him. Who made you, monkey? Who created you? he intones during their lovemaking. You did! she cries, squeakily.
In the morning, when Black God wants to cuddle and take her to Heaven to meet Thomas Jefferson, she squirms away as if ! Just another notch on her belt, and she s right back to watching TV in her sweatpants, confiding in her dog (played by her actual dog), and hanging out at the local cafe with her straight-man sister, Laura (played by her actual sister), and her red-bearded gay neighbors, Steve (Steve Agee) and Brian (an endearing Brian Posehn, as a schlub whose conversational trial balloons always get shot down). Laura is a nurse, supposedly at least, she wears a white uniform but the others view jobs as a lot of work. The same goes for cooking, reading, making plans, and doing favors for friends. When Sarah's buddy Natalie asks for her help moving, Sarah's excuse is I stubbed my vagina.
Brian and Steve are an appealing couple: they bump fists and say, I'm so gay for you, then bicker about whether Brian should try drinking Tab or whether, as he insists, he's really bisexual. Sarah's crowd punishes sexual indeterminacy: when she suddenly decides that she's a lesbian, everyone scoffs. As a lesbian, I resent your laughter, Sarah says. And all laughter. Is the joke about identity politics? Lesbians? Or is it on us: So you think lesbians are humorless? At times, you wonder whether you're laughing with Silverman or at her, and then you realize that she's laughing at you.
To watch clips of The Sarah Silverman Program go to https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=sarah+silverman+program
For an Episode Guide go to http://www.tv.com/the-sarah-silverman-program/show/68236/summary.html
For an episode list go to http://epguides.com/SarahSilvermanProgram/
For more on The Sarah Silverman Program go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sarah_Silverman_Program
For a Website dedicated to Sarah Silverman go to http://sarahsilvermanonline.com/
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Keywords: Sarah Silverman Program