Feb 02 2007

The Sarah Silverman Program isn’t funny

This post about TV is really just an excuse to publish a picture of cake. Coconut cake.

The older I get, the lower the altitude at which are flying the fucks I give about pop culture. It’s true! I don’t listen to The Shins. I haven’t seen “Borat,” and have made no plans to do so. In fact, my dog Bert chewed up my most recent Netflix selection (“The Life Aquatic”) before I could watch it, and now I’m in Dutch with the Netflixians, so I’ll probably never see a movie again.

Oh, some quaint vestiges of my old culture-vulture days cling. For instance, in June, when it finally comes out, you will have to strap me down and put me in a coma to keep me from getting my hands on one of those iPhone things. And, unlike all the pious readers of this blog, I own a television. I don’t use it to watch “24,” though, so that puts 87% of all pop culture references beyond my grasp. But last night I used it to sort of watch “The Sarah Silverman Program.”

I should remark at this juncture that, although comedy is conceptually a swell idea, there can be no doubt that some hitherto undiscovered law governing the physical universe makes exceedingly remote the contingency that a professional comedian can be funny. It has to do with a neutrino-ish particle that somehow transmits to those who would be amused the crushing weight of Cosmic Indifference. Someday, when I get back from ice-fishing for revenge in Hell, I’m gonna look into it.

But until then: funny comedians : oxymoron :: unfunny comedians : moron

I say I ‘sort of’ watched “The Sarah Silverman Program” because I actually missed most of it. After the initial round of fart jokes, there was a commercial. I have developed such an aversion to those in-yer-face dude-centric commercials that whenever they come on, which is always, I can either flip to an ad-free station or start cutting myself with razor blades. Of course I end up getting sucked in to whatever they’re showing on the other channel, even when, like last night, it’s Lee Marvin and Burt Lancaster shooting the crap out of Mexican banditos in Death Valley.

“You should be careful, ameego. These parts are dangerous for greengos. There are many bandeetos,” says the Head Mexican Bandito.

Burt Lancaster and Lee Marvin and their posse immediately shoot all the Mexican banditos.

“Shoot the horses, too,” says Burt Lancaster.

Lee Marvin hesitates. They are standing in a pile of dead Mexican banditos.

I forget all about Sarah Silverman’s Program because I have to know if Lee Marvin shoots the horses. When I remember to tune back in, sure enough, some guy is on the crapper looking at gay porn.

I’m not saying a guy on the crapper looking at gay porn can’t be funny. I’m just saying it isn’t funny. But, O, I wanted to love “The Sarah Silverman Program.” Like all spinster aunts, I yearn for a chickly TV show that isn’t about cleavage or outfits, or the wacky lengths Miss Thing will go to to get a boyfriend; such a show has not aired since Mary Tyler Moore. But I was in trouble before “The Sarah Silverman Program” even started, because of the self-consciously anti-funny title. And then it was just disappointing poop jokes, a disappointing exploration of the psychedelic properties of cough syrup, and disappointing guys telling each other “I’m so gay for you.”

I am informed by the commentariat at Pandagon that Silverman is ‘meta’, but if that’s the case, I guess I just can’t tell the difference between ‘meta’ and ‘pandering to low-brow late-nite 18-34 year-old white dudes who say ‘dude’ alot.’ Just like I can’t tell the difference between Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen Twins.


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  1. Sarah

    Well, I would recommend Ugly Betty to you, but it too is essentially about tits, sex and outfits. i thought it wouldnt be when i first sat down to watch it, (i don’t know why because it’s on network tv) and now i’m hopelessly glued to its soapoperaness. It is fascinating to view through the particularly enlightened lens of Twistyism, but I suppose it wouldn’t serve the purposes of entertaining you directly. the life of a rodeo clown is a sad and solitary existence.

  2. mrskennedy

    Her movie, Jesus is Magic, was kind of disappointing, too.

  3. buggle

    First time poster-heard of this blog through the BUST boards, which I am incredibly frustrated with right now. MUCH relieved to find this place that actually seems, gasp, feminist!!! And not just “feminism is about women doing whatever they want, and other women supporting them in whatever they want to do, be it a boob job or wearing heels!” Anyways….I could rant about that for awhile but won’t.

    Ah! I actually sort of watched that show last night too. I tried to be open-minded and give it a chance. I kept waiting to laugh. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting……Nope, no laughing. A couple time I almost laughed, but no. I didn’t expect much, so I guess I wasn’t disappointed.

    I feel the same way about commercials. I got a DVR so I rarely watch live TV anymore-this way I can gleefully whiz through the stupid commercials and laugh.

  4. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    I still listen to the indie station out of Baltimore. It is a testament to my enduring dorkulence. But I can rarely work up enthusiasm for the more recent offerings I hear there (WTF is My Morning Jacket? and why should I care?) So I suppose I too am on a hand-shaking basis with creeping senescence.

    I am sorry to hear Sister Sarah’s show is a female Beavis-n-Butthead. Although I’m chronically unable to remain awake late enough to see it, I kinda had hopes.

    Ha! Finally the math spamulator poses me a problem that doesn’t require me to remove my shoes to determine the correct answer.

  5. Libba Letton

    My goodness, that cake looks yummy. Was it? Where’d you get it?

  6. Rei

    I’ll also admit to Ugly Betty, which I love for its pitch-perfect camp sincerity, its candy bright colors, and the audacity of its telenovella plotting. I’ll defend it as a sweet and relatively non-pernicious entertainment, because despite the high boobs/sex/outfits content, it isn’t strictly ABOUT those things.

    Anyway, what does everyone think of Tina Fey’s “30 Rock?” I always enjoy it, and it actually takes the dangers of feminity as a recurring comic theme, usually via fall girl of the patriarchy Jane Krakowski. (Witness last night’s brutal take-down of the Cinderella fantasy.)

  7. joy

    If you dog chewed up “The Life Aquatic,” you should probably give him a treat. He was just looking after you: it was awful.

  8. MzNicky

    Twisty: The fucks I give about pop culture also fly much closer to the ground these days. Most no longer exist; those that do hover slightly, then disappear.

  9. norbizness

    I think there are two Olsen twins and only one Lindsay Lohan. I did like Sarah’s sister, Laura (who’s also in the new show) as the animated receptionist in Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist. And Just the Ten of Us, a highly underrated show.

  10. kathy a

    pop culture? i’m feeling barely redeemed as a still-viable human by the MTM reference, but we don’t have cable. the pop culture that comes in my door attached to the kids and their friends is hardly worth mentioning; and what the hell are we going to do for funny insights, now that molly’s gone? oh, yeah — that’s why i come here.

  11. Clio Bluestocking

    They can call it “meta” all they want, to make it sound like Silverman is making some imporatant cultural statement. They can try say she’s satirical, too. She’s just offensive and not really funny.

    Satire works because the people who are being satirized are the ones who don’t get the joke. That’s what makes it satire. If the people here not getting the joke are women, blacks, Asians, and so forth, are they the ones being satirized?

    I have this theory that this “meta,” “satirical,” “edgy” sort of humor that offends women, blacks, Asians, and so forth, like Silverman’s, is really just a pose. If you pretend that you are being “subversive,” that you are “telling it like it is,” that you are “un-p.c.,” then you can let your inner racist, sexist asshole frolic to its heart’s content in a way that is reminiscent of a Klan rally. Anyone who takes offense just “doesn’t get it,” which is the ultimate putdown in comedy, implying that you are too stupid to get the joke.

  12. Hattie

    Sorry, but I think Sara Silverman is hilarious. And so is Borat. But I watched segments of the Silverman show on Comedy Central’s web site, thus avoiding the commercials.

  13. leen

    Twisty, if you ever get back in Netflix’ good graces, consider the “Life in the Undergrowth” series by the BBC. It’s got crazy macro filming of all kinds of itsy bugs, like springtails the size of a dot (a ‘full stop’, as they say in the UK) that fill up the WHOLE screen with crystal clarity. Not to mention all the crazy slug sex. (Hint: it involves hanging from a tree branch by a big string of slime.) The Varmint Center would be proud.

    Actually, the others in the series (Mammals, Birds, and Ocean) are also very good. Mammals is my favorite. And the host is great — it’s entertaining to see an older british guy get so excited by things like hedgehogs and the mating rituals of orb weavers.

  14. slade

    I enjoy comedy that ridicules rich, white boys. Don’t see much of that on TV, but I believe there is a big market for it..

    I’ve watched ‘Ugly Betty.’ I wish the show were simply named ‘Betty.’

  15. kate

    I own a television, but can’t bring myself to pay money to have the privilege of watching 50 some channels of celebrations of patriarchy, especially when money is so scarce for me right now. Which, in the same vein, I have no time to drug myself with its flashes of color, sex and violence, which I have to say, can hold me with remote in hand, flipping incessantly for hours looking for something to justify my sitting there passively entertained. Of course, after a few hours, I’m frustrated, somewhat numbed to violence and sexism and less quite a lot of precious time I need to overcome the economic oppression the patriarchy has been kind enough to hand me over the years.

    Oftentimes its hard for me to believe its not one big conspiracy by rich white guys to get us lowers addled to the television and its attendant claims to give us all the news we need, when we need it, to decipher the world’s mysteries for us and to soothe our needy souls.

    Guess I’m cruel to myself, but I know my weaknesses and I know what I must do; read and post on feminist and leftie blogs in my wee spare hours. And yes, like Hattie, thanks to the internets, I do get some snippets of what’s been recommended by others. This helps to feed my vain hope that just possibly, the country hasn’t completely given their minds over to Fox News and its adherents.

    The talk of this reminds me of how many have told me that I just didn’t understand South Park either. Apparently my inability to find humor in fart, dumb black people, slut woman and gay-boy jokes just indicates my general cluelessness. Whatever is underneath that pile of shit, I figured, I really didn’t care to know.

  16. josie my source of most frustration

    I wholeheartedly agree with the endorsement of 30 Rock. It is laugh out loud funny and Tina Fey is definitely in on the joke.

  17. Ron Sullivan

    Dang, I had hopes for the Silverman thing. The thing about fart jokes is the same thig as the thing about lunchblogs: they’re only funny if they’re, you know, funny. Like any other joke, come to think of it.

    I was all primed to laugh at the comedian on KPIG half an hour ago, too, and nope. He got one good one off about a pastrami sandwich, and — Ya know, my standards aren’t high either. I get helpless every damn time I listen to Moose Turd Pie, and I’ve heard it a zillion times.

    I spent last week talking to my sisters and one of my nieces and laughing my ass off too. Eh, maybe I’m spoiled. We nearly murdered poor Joe some years back with the (true) story about my ex-brother holding off the SWAT team for hours with the contents of the kitchen drawers. I had to take him out and fan him every now and then.

    Who the hell are the Shins?

  18. pocketina

    I am at a loss to recommend any comedian or comedy series, which is sad, because the death of Molly Ivins has put me into quite the funk this week, and I could use the escapism.
    However, I can recommend this: LinkTV (sadly, it’s only carried by satellite providers, not cable). It’s got Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now, amazing documentaries, and news from Europe and the Middle East. It’s pretty much what PBS could have been, if corporations and f*****s like Kenneth Tomlinson had stayed out of their programming (and there’s no kids’ shows, cooking shows, Britcoms, or miles of people scrutinizing antiques). Damn good.

  19. Rei

    Thanks Josie. I may be imagining things (my radicalization is in its early stages, after all), but I think “30 Rock” has some sort of critique of femininity every single week! This isn’t really something I’ve seen anywhere else on network tv.

  20. eRobin

    Do you ever watch 30 Rock? I love that.

  21. mearl

    My Morning Jacket, from what I have gleaned from various music magazines during the minutes I spend whiling away boredom waiting for my prescriptions to be filled at the methadone clinic, is an overhyped pile of shit posing as a band made up of subversive hillbillies with flowing beards who sing passion prog-rock. It’s great to listen to if you want to film your ears bleeding or be thrown into a bad acid flashback after never having done acid. I had to put this in here because overhyped bands which perform on treadmills or include an all-bearded cast or stage BDSM carnivals, etc. make me irate.

    I haven’t watched Ugly Betty, 24, The Sarah Silverman show, or much of anything lately except for Kenny Vs. Spenny, which makes me laugh so hard that I choke.

  22. Pinko Punko

    So do you ever watch your Netflix movies? We seem to just kind of get them and then send them back after awhile. For example, “THE LIFE AQUATIC” (!) sits unwatched, and now I gather, temptingly lies inert for Bertian-oppressed Spinster Aunt-Burglar types. If you do steal that, we also got the recommended-by-commenter-above “Life in the Undergrowth” for Jesusmas. It is also unwatched, but I warn you if you try to burgle it, it remains inside noisy shrinkwrap, and you don’t want Pugsley and Smokeydog trying to mess up your other ankle via their guard dog “moves” of alternatively farting and looking cute.

  23. Mandos

    I just saw The Fountain, and I would definitely recommend that Twisty and others NOT put this in their Netflix queues. Wolverine (from the X-Men) is a cancer researcher who conveniently has a wife with Sexy Brain Cancer Patient Syndrome.

    Enough said?

  24. virgotex

    fyi, it’s been my experience that the Netflixians are a fairly gentle species. I’ve lost a few of their silvery discs and lived to tell the tale.

  25. Julie

    I have to agree with Joy. “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” was the first disc the spousal unit and I ever rented from Netflix. We lasted through twenty minutes of mailed-in screenwriting, mailed-in directing, and mailed-in acting. At that point we both figuratively and literally packed it up and mailed it in.

  26. poppyabd

    I would like to jump on the bandwagon of recommending “30 Rock.” It’s the first show I thought of when reading this post, and I was glad to see others watch it. Even though the other characters are obsessed with getting her a guy, she never seems all that into it. And I agree there’s usually a critique of femininity. AND Tina Fey’s character self-identifies as a feminist, and has created and runs a successful TV show. Go Tina Fey! It really reminds me of the Mary Tyler Moore show, actually.

    And I would like to second the negative review of “The Fountain.” It was atrociously bad. Maybe the worst movie of the year. It made me want to hit something.

    The one thing I will say in defense of the Sarah Silverman program is that it was kinda nice to see her character so jealous about her sister having a boyfriend. Not jealous that her sister had a boyfriend and she didn’t, but jealous that her sister’s boyfriend was threatening to take her away. And then the sister apologized for breaking her regular date with Sarah in order to go out with a boy. That’s something not usually seen on TV.

  27. Mandos

    I enjoyed the way (in The Fountain) that the Sexy Brain Tumour Wife has her “seizure”, swooning appealingly into Wolverine’s manly arms. And the fact that she was a fantasy author, apparently, and was writing her novel as though she were one of her own characters: with a fountain pen on parchment in perfectly calligraphed letters, as opposed to being in front of a computer screen with piles of paper around her and several dirty coffee mugs, which I would have believed.

    Now, to be fair, what dazzled a lot of people about the movie (and there are a LOT of fans, apparently) were the dream-sequence visuals and the music. which at times can be quite overwhelming. So if you watch movies for that (which I do sometimes), it wasn’t bad. But if you can’t get around plot issues, well, then [trails off meaningfully in the absence of ellipsis]

  28. Jezebella

    I’ve always thought Sarah Silverman was a sellout to frat-boy humor. I sort of, a little bit, want to like her, in theory, because of her refusal to perform femininity, but on the other hand: I don’t find her funny. Her public persona strikes me as someone that could’ve been a real bully in grade school.

    I recently got hooked on Ugly Betty, which I think is appropriately titled since she’s the only NON-ugly person on the show. Everyone else is appropriately lacquered, but she’s the only person with a conscience, a soul, a brain. I adored America Ferrara in “Real Women Have Curves,” so I’m happy to see her getting work despite the fact that she has her own nose, her own teeth, and her own breasts. 30 Rock is growing on me, too. I’ve always loved Tina Fey.

    Now, if you want escapism, have the Netflixians send you the DVDs of Battlestar Galactica. Like much sci-fi, it’s got a militaristic strain, but the women are completely kick-ass. The one sexbot-looking woman is, literally, a robot, and she’s a bad guy. I love that Starbuck gets to be a fuckup (read: human) because she’s the best pilot. I love that everybody underestimates President Roslin because she used to be a schoolteacher, and she steps up to the task. I will admit that there is a breast cancer plotline that is veering towards annoying, but I’m giving them a chance to redeem themselves on that score, having only watched the first season as yet. Plus there’s cool boots, great special effects, and bitchin spaceships. What more could you want?

  29. maribelle

    Twisty, don’t keep us in suspense–DID Lee Marvin shoot the horses?

  30. B. Dagger Lee

    Oh yeah? I kinda liked Silverman’s show. I see her as operating in the same genre as Stephen Colbert; they embody what they’re making fun of. So Silverman portrays an infantile chick from the suburbs with a skittery id. Said chick reflects back the way patriarchal white culture portrays, more often than not, black women: wise old praise-jesus woman or prostitute.

    And a little bit of making fun of the love at first sight hetero-myth.

    But yanno, everything is more fun with Miss Patsy around.

    yrs, B. Dagger Lee

    Word to Jezebella: My Dual-purpose Textual Analysis and Sausage-making Machine says Starbuck is a Cylon, one of the Final Five.

  31. Twisty

    “Machine says Starbuck is a Cylon, one of the Final Five.”


  32. nancy

    My uncle told me he has lost several Netflix movies, and Netflix just says something like “Well, okay, don’t do that anymore” and then they let him get more movies. Maybe he was exaggerating but more movies may not be out of reach.

  33. Sara

    Sarah Silverman has never made me laugh, but coconut cake is always good.

    Also, though it’s shamefully retro of us, I know, we still have a working VCR. We tape almost everything we watch. Then we fast forward through the commercials.

    Now that’s magic.

  34. George Smiley

    I think Silverman can be exceedingly funny, but I haven’t seen her TV show. That’s what I get for having a great branch library with a good dvd section nearby, but no cable tv. That, and not knowing who Lindsay Lohan is.

  35. the first born fish

    I will also endorse Ugly Betty. You can watch the first episode (to see if you might like it) on ABC.com because they stream shows for free with only a few commercial breaks.

    I’m kind of a sucker for Ugly Betty. It has a lot of cheesey themes but it’s ultimately about a kind, hard-working young woman doing what she loves and having to deal with what everything thinks of THAT.

    Still, I suspect you might hate it…

  36. edith

    I can’t watch Ugly Betty because I know the actress in real life. I mean, very well. I mean, I grew up with her, we went to school together, and we’re the same age. I’m not saying that she’s a horrible person or anything, just that it’s hard to watch a childhood bud of yours pretend to be someone else both when she’s supposed to be “acting” and when she’s not. And I’m not saying she’s fake, either, but that everyone’s public persona is different from their private one. It’s just too weird. However, I am happy that she’s been so successful. She’s not the only person who I grew up with who is now famous, but she’s definitely the most deserving.

    I have mixed feelings about Silverman. I think sometimes she is actually really brilliant, but I do enjoy mean-spirited humor.

  37. Amaz0n

    I think Sarah Silverman has good and bad qualities. Unfortunately, that good/bad split doesn’t mean she averages out into an okay comedian; it means that she’s even more unbearable than she would be if she were simply bad, because her occasional flashes of brilliance reveal that she knows what she’s doing and choses to be a crappy comedian anyway.

    Yes, I get that her whole act is supposed to be a piss-take on the typical sheltered, infantilized white woman. However, she combines that “satire” with a shock-value schtick that basically boils down to “I’m a traditionally attractive white woman who also says words like ‘dookie.'” Both of those things – the over-the-top white-girl satire persona, and the shock-value potty-mouth persona – have a lot of potential for really hilarious and pointed comedy. But instead of exercising either one for its full potential, she uses both personas at once to temper each other, more or less. The social commentary that you could get out of one persona gets stifled by the other, and in the end you get a really bland goulash of poop jokes and woman-mockery that seems “edgy” and “offensive” but is ultimately offensive to nobody, especially not the dominant paradigm that she is supposedly mocking.

    And about the racial thing: I grow very tired of white people who think that, if they briefly mix some obligatory witticisms about stereotyping into their bullshit, they can freely use those stereotypes to their heart’s content. Honestly, the “whites pidgeonhole people of color into stereotyped roles, isn’t that funny” is even worse than plain-old stereotyping with no lip service to “enlightened” thinking, and the punchline to both is the same: “We’re white people, so we can protray POC however we want. Isn’t that hilarious?”

  38. Twisty

    Well, yes, I do hate Ugly Betty. I saw the first installment when it aired and was completely unimpressed with the ugly duckling theme, and the promise that it was going to be about outfits and her finding a guy who loves her in spite of how supposedly un-hot she is.

  39. PhysioProf

    “overhyped bands which perform on treadmills”

    DEVO was not overhyped!

  40. Pinko Punko

    FRACK! S-Buck a baddie? NO WAY, JOSE!

  41. Frigga's Own

    Now I have to know, does Lee Marvin shoot the horses?

  42. Twisty

    “Now I have to know, does Lee Marvin shoot the horses?”

    Right, like I’m gonna give it away. Some night you might find yourself tossing and turning under the weight of the world, visions of Sarah Silverman pooping her pants dancing in your head, when out of desperation you turn on the TV, and ‘The Professionals’ is showing, and they get to that scene in Death Valley, and you’re on the edge of your seat. I can’t take that away from you.

  43. B. Dagger Lee

    Pinko Punko, of course you want proof. What does the Sausage-making Machine base its calculations on?

    The vagina paintings! Dude, the vagina paintings!

    yrs, BDL

  44. B. Dagger Lee

    All good points, AmazOn, and I’ll keep them in mind to evaluate her next show. I admit I also want to like her.

    Have you seen Jesus is Magic? Watching it, I did keep thinking, “What is she doing?” Obviously I came down on the side of seeing her as interrogating white ideas. When Silverman is reviewed in the NYT, the reviewers fairly consistently side with your point of view, that she’s straddling a gap and trying to have it both ways, and get both audiences.

    She and Stephen Colbert encorporate “knowingness,” into their lampoon (as if to say I know better!), whereas Sasha Baron Cohen does not allow Borat to dissolve and reveal the real, “knowing,” Baron Cohen underneath. It might be this which makes me think Baron Cohen is the better comedian, although I love Stephen Colbert, particularly for what he did at the White House Correspondents Ball.

    Must satire be so obvious and broad that no one can mistake its meaning? Does it work better when its audience is unsure, and having to evaluate it constantly? I don’t know.

    But I must defend potty mouth, farting and poop jokes! Some comedians embody the infantile for us; it’s one of the elements that makes comedy as carthartic and satisfying as tragedy. Poop jokes don’t float my boat, but Miss Patsy is crazy for them. And I would argue that this particular area of the infantile, the anarchic, the rude and crude has been reserved for male comedians. I enjoy seeing a woman stomp around in it, and make it hers.

    yrs, BDL

  45. Jezebella

    Starbuck a CYLON? Say it ain’t so?! You are killing me.

    Her spine didn’t light up when she was in bed with Dr. Baltar. But she DID make a quick study of flying that damaged cylon raider. Damn.

    Now I’ll be eying her with suspicion when my next batch of episodes arrives.

  46. JT

    Twisty, I’m sorry you disliked “Ugly Betty.” It’s a TiVo Season Pass for me, along with “30 Rock” and “Studio 60” (pretentious, but I love it anyway).

    The Sara Silverman thing…. I don’t get her. I know she’s supposed to be hi-larious, and I’m all about seeing female funniests get their own, but she strikes me as a gal who decided doing frat-boy humor would be hot. I imagine puerile men with creepy fetishes watching her and getting off on her use of potty humor and curse words.

    That’s not to say I don’t think potty humor has its place, but I’ve seen far funnier comediennes do a lot more with a lot less grossness. Paula Poundstone had a series of routines in the 90s that could still make me fall off my chair today.

  47. saltyC

    I have a theory, that the reason men and children enjoy poop jokes is they don’t have to clean it. Like I say, it’s just a theory, now excuse me I have some poop to clean.

  48. alphabitch

    “And, unlike all the pious readers of this blog, I own a television.”

    I got a TV recently. First there was one, and then a couple weeks later I got another one — even bigger! It’s getting to be sort of like that joke where people keep breaking into the house and leaving accordions.

    I’ll probably post something fascinating about it when I get around to plugging one of them in. I’m kind of looking forward to it, at least to watching movies on it, which seems like all I’ll ever do. Cause whenever I start thinking “OK, should I get cable, or satellite?” then I read something like this that makes me think “Oh, why bother.” I’m not sure I could get a fuck to hover, let alone fly.

  49. Polly

    I like the Australian series Kath & Kim and the BBC series Nighty Night – they’re both kind of dysfunctional sitcoms, but written by women and with female characters outside of the usual dreary moral compass. And very funny.

  50. TP

    30 Rock, and Tina Fey, are so great that I bought a season pass of it from iTunes for myself for Xmas.

    While there is nothing startlingly obvious about her feminism, Tina just assumes that women make sense, are human beings, exist in a patriarchy, and that dealing with it is a constant hassle that can be mined for a barking, cynical laugh every 20 seconds or so.

    In an early episode, Tracy Morgan drags her to a strip club. Yes, the typical male-pandering storyline set up simply to provide an adolescent thrill, right? But it’s a black strip club filled with big black women, not a normal TV strip club filled with skinny blonde models pretending. You can almost feel the white male boners deflating. Whenever there’s any hint of pandering to male sexual desire she seems to be exceedingly clever at imploding it, probably by reassuring everyone that she’s doing it for laughs.

    Maybe I’m reading more into the show than I should because I love Tina Fey with the love of a father for his only daughter, and I consider her the greatest comic I have ever seen, but it seems to me that she is deliberately subverting patriarchal mores in every single show, in tiny little details or broad strokes.

    The episodes about her loser beeper salesman boyfriend are the most feminist things I have ever seen on network TV. Beeper salesman! His unbreakable and completely insane air of privilege despite his complete worthlessness! The way he condescends to her!

    I won’t even mention the ways that her relationship to the hilarious Alec Baldwin parallel a woman’s relationship to the patriarchy.

    Perhaps we shouldn’t laugh at these things. But maybe the truth behind the laughter is helping nudge a few more women towards repudiating the patriarchy a bit. And we need that.

  51. octopod

    Ouch. You know, I can’t stand Silverman either, and I could never articulate exactly why. I think you’ve done most of it for me.

    I suppose, though, I’ve also got a certain aversion to the whole genre of “asshole comedy”. I know Silverman’s a bit of a twist on this, in that she’s not Adam Carrolla, but the sort of comedians whose schtick consists of “Hahah, I’m so self-consciously ironically awesome that I can make fun of retarded people and it’ll be funny! Because it’s ironic!” just drives me up the wall. Really, the same way that it drives me up the wall when people make fun of something based only on having seen/read/heard a parody of it somewhere.

  52. ostrova

    I not only don’t get Sarah Silverman, I don’t get “30 Rock” either, or Tina Fey. Or SNL. I really really wish I could find women comics who made me laugh as hard as I did the first time I saw Monty Python.
    BTW I’m a struggling comic. Also BTW I just love “Ugly Betty” because it’s got great scripts and heart.

  53. Solex


    I can’t believe I just spent time with the biggest bunch of prissy, stuck up snobs on the ‘Net, which is you ladies. Don’t you ever try to find a middle ground? Are things always so black and white for you that you can’t just settle down and enjoy yourselves? Or is life too much for you?

    As for the writer of this blog: maybe if you didn’t have your head up your ass so much, you might be able to see the humor in Ms. Silverman’s show, and be able to like Ugly Betty. You and the other ladies that have posted here might think that you’re better than the neocon majority, but your sour, Victorian attitude shows me that you’re just as tightassed and moralistic as them. Prove me wrong and find enjoyment in life, or shut the fuck up and stop talking about popular culture: we already have people who critique that, and they’re paid for it.

  54. LouisaMayAlcott

    Solex: what’s it to you, asshole?

  55. Jezebella

    Prissy? Wow. The IBTP commentariat is many things, but “prissy”? Somebody’s got a new dictionary.

    I think Solex just said, “Settle down, ladies,” which comment, in real life, would make me want to kick him in the ass. Here, it just makes me sigh heavily and wonder why he bothered to read the blog if he hated it so much.

  56. cycles

    Solex: I resent being called a Victorian priss. I insist you apologize, or I shall be forced to take you behind the carriage house, rip the whalebone stays from my corset, and whip you worse than the Boers.

  57. mearl

    hey since we’re linked back here, physioprof, I didn’t mean Devo (I love me some Devo), I meant OK Go :


  58. Sia

    I agree with Clio Bluestocking, AmazOn, and octopod. Sarah Silverman thinks her comedy is anti-bigotry, but it is in fact pro-bigotry, no matter what she tells herself. And I bet she doesn’t even bother to tell herself that very often–success as a comedian, not political speech, is her primary motivation, and she is willing do pretty much anything, including spouting bigotry while soothing herself with the lie that it is “satire”, if it will grant her that success. The same goes for practically every popular comedian out there. Chris Rock, Sacha Baron Cohen, and pretty much everyone who participated in the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner, which, by the way, was truly stomach-turning. Even Margaret Cho is guilty of this from time to time. (I’m not sure about Carlos Mencia; I think he is just a racist shock-comic with no claims to “satire”) And everywhere you turn, people are defending it:


    It is not ok.

    I might liken it to a movie which on the surface condemns rape (the villain is a rapist and the hero catches the villain and saves a potential rape victim) but, interestingly, films the rape scenes as erotically as possible, lovingly explores every facet of the villain’s twisted mindset, and fetishizes the terror and vulnerability of the villain’s next intended victim.

  59. hazel stone

    I enjoy comedy that ridicules rich, white boys.

    One of the main reasons I liked Arrested Development.

  60. Twisty

    One of the main reasons I liked Arrested Development

    Now that show was funny.

  61. Mar Iguana

    Tucker Smallwood!? Unfortunate name. Gaud, you just can’t make this stuff up. The right wingers are nutting-up about a Sarah Silverman episode on tonight, calling it Naughty Hottie, because it’s about having sex with gaud, who is black (played by Smallwood). Haaaa!!

    Watch and discuss? Never seen the show myself, but I would love to hear the IBTP take on this one.

    (Sorry to dig up an aged post but this sounds delicious)

  62. Phil

    Silverman doesn’t bug me but as much as I would like to like her, she’s never made me laugh. Her show is “comedy style dialogue and behavior” but something vital is missing, the vital, all-important comedy essence, perhaps some sense of structure and understanding of what makes something funny, or seem to be funny. It’s often not WHAT is said or done but how and WHEN it is said or done. As for “frat boy humor,” I despise the stereotypcal version of it but often find women labeling anything that isn’t their preferred version of comedy as “frat boy” in the same way men often reject a good film as a “chick movie.” I can like anything as long as it’s good and is effective, but gravitate toward what holds the most personal meanining, as everyone should, I think. I like Tina Fey, but my wife despises her. I’ve only seen the one episode of her show with Paul Reubens but liked it (largely thanks to Reubens). If anyone wants to find a great female comedian, though she doesn’t have a show right now, check out Maria Bamford. She’s talented, hilarious, slightly demented, and could be the next great comic actress if she gets the chance. Amy Sedaris is great, too. Oh yeah, and I thought Borat sucked. Cohen is not a sly social critic, he has very little to say, I think, other than the most obvious stuff.

  63. Derek G

    Sarah Silverman is SO funny, (and cute!).

  1. Grievance Department at I Blame The Patriarchy

    […] This is one of those comments. As for the writer of this blog: maybe if you didn’t have your head up your ass so much, you might be able to see the humor in Ms. Silverman’s show, and be able to like Ugly Betty. You and the other ladies that have posted here might think that you’re better than the neocon majority, but your sour, Victorian attitude shows me that you’re just as tightassed and moralistic as them. Prove me wrong and find enjoyment in life, or shut the fuck up and stop talking about popular culture: we already have people who critique that, and they’re paid for it. […]

  2. teenies thumb

    teenies thumb…

    Technologies of teenies thumb…

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