Friday, February 02, 2007

In which a humanities social science major uses math to review The Sarah Silverman Program

I've always been slightly, just slightly, interested in Sarah Silverman. I've never seen her do stand up for long, but she seems like she might possibly be a hoot. I also find her extremely attractive. I've long suspected that she's "funny" because she says shocking things, and then makes a cute face.

Let's examine this a bit more. If you plotted most Hollywood actresses on a graph, the line of best fit for the data points would look like something like a basic hyperbola. So if y = hotness and x = funny, the best equation to describe the relationship between the two is probably:

f(x) = 1/x

Apologies if you were hoping for a photo of Sarah here.

On this graph, Silverman would exist somewhere above and to the right of the curve at the point (1,1), but a bit farther up the y-axis than along the x. Voila! Mathematical proof* that her fame is as much a result of her attractiveness as it is her ability to be funny. (Take all of this with a huge grain of salt. I'm a sucker for girsls with big, brown eyes and dirty mouths. Maybe she actually is funny and I'm too busy trying to see what her tongue does when she says "vagina.")

Anyway, about the show. I won't say it was a total disaster. There were (at least two or three) times I laughed. But having to wade through so many scenes of forced interaction and gratuitous cruelty to strangers made the payoff totally not worth it. I assume that the creators are aiming somewhere along the Seinfeld-Curb Your Enthusiasm vector. But Seinfeld managed to be funny with unsympathetic characters
because the writers mined absurdity from banal situations.

The Sarah Silverman Program
, by contrast, goes straight for the ridiculous _ one key plot points involves Silverman's character drinking too much cough syrup and entering a hallucinatory land of cartoons while driving, only to come to when her car winds up in the middle of a playground.

Now, it could be argued that this kind of silliness isn't any less absurd than, say, getting laughs from someone using a fishing pole to retrieve a marble rye or even any of the zany predicaments of Seinfeld's final two seasons. But the difference, I think, is that we're much more appreciative of this kind of absurdity after several seasons of watching characters who obsess over big salads, jackets and nose-picking. Or maybe it's because Seinfeld stuck to it's "no hugging, no learning" guns. Silverman's character, meanwhile, hugs sister Laura near the end of the episode, but then uses the chance to threaten her sister's new boyfriend. Yes, yes, we get it.

I don't really watch Curb Your Enthusiasm all that much, but I'm almost always turned off by Larry David's character's self-absorption and neediness. I think I feel the same way about Sarah Silverman's eponymous character, but, hey at least she's easier on the eyes than David.

It's too bad her show is such a hodgepodge of discrete gags and painful jokes, complete with characters either unsympathetic or two-dimensional. The sole exception would be Laura Silverman. She's kind of like a faint echo of Michael Bluth in hell _ but unfortunately, not one bit of the chaos around her bears any resemblance to the high-wire antics in Arrested Development.

Verdict: I would put this show on in the background while surfing the internet, because Sarah Silverman is adorable, although my opinion of her comedic talents definitely took a header in the 20-odd minutes it took to get through the episode. The Sarah Silverman Program therefore falls somewhere on my Spectrum of Watchability between Entourage and Life on a Stick.

1 comment:

Flop said...