Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Sarah Silverman Theory

"The Sarah Silverman Program" is about to kick off it's third season this evening on Comedy Central.

This article is not a recommendation to watch "The Sarah Silverman Program." It's shock comedy-- a show that amuses by offering up the most offensive ideas, dialog and situations possible for a basic cable show. In the show she plays a version of herself as an intensely self-centered, manipulative, jobless mooch who gets into weekly situations of a generally scatological and morally repugnant nature. Her family and friends accept her antics with shrugs and indulgent smiles. It's basically "The Lucy Show" if Lucy Carmichael was a sociopath with Tourette's Syndrome who was sponging off Vivian Vance.

This sort of shock comedy is not exactly new territory: "South Park" does the same thing. But "South Park" traffics in social commentary, while "Sarah" seems to wallow in nihilism. Still, shock comedy is definitely in style, and a lot of people seem to like it, which is why she got renewed again. Not my thing.

But what I find intriguing is exactly how Sarah Silverman the comedian parleyed her act into a sitcom, and what makes it work. She makes it work by using her appearance as cover. She is a slight, pixieish woman with a radiant smile and a chirpy voice, and her character dresses like a 13-year-old boy. So when she gets caught indulging in outrageous behavior, she flashes her oblivious high-wattage smile, and everyone around her tends to laugh it off. A cute little girl who says and does ugly things. It's the series' standing meta-joke: Who can stay mad at someone that cute? Which leads to the core philosophy of "The Sarah Silverman Program:" Attractive people can get away with anything.

Years ago on a different blog, I picked Sarah Silverman as the ideal candidate to play Wonder Woman on the big screen. She still qualifies, but Megan Fox would be much better, dontcha think?

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