The Sarah Silverman Program
Thursday, Feb. 4, 10:30 p.m.
Actress Laura Silverman, the older sister and cast mate of comedian Sarah Silverman, says the writers and creators of Comedy Central's The Sarah Silverman Program—which begins its third season Thursday at 10:30 p.m.—decided to go for broke this year, as if the show were ending. But haven't they always?
By now, either you love potty-minded Sarah or you hate her for her challenging, taboo-smashing comedy, designed to offend, outrage and induce appreciative howls of "Oh, no, she didn't." Put me in the "love" category.
Maybe I'm a sicko, but a sitcom parody in which the narcissistic main character has an affair with God (an emotionally needy middle-aged black man, as it turns out) or reminisces about her past abortions montage-style, as Green Day's "Time of Your Life" plays on the soundtrack—that's my kinda funny. And if you're a Glee fan, check it out: She sings, too!
The first episode of the new season follows that tradition. Sarah's long-suffering sister, Laura, finally puts her foot down about financially supporting Sarah and tells her to get a job. With her salon lip waxes no longer subsidized, Sarah grows a moustache, which leads to a horrifying revelation about the origin of her high testosterone count. (She looks damn good with a 'stache, by the way.)
The Indy caught up with Laura Silverman this week while she was in Park City, Utah, for the Slamdance Film Festival, where her new movie, Cummings Farm, premiered to a good reception. She talked about the new season, growing up Silverman and Sarah's dog, Doug.
INDEPENDENT: How does it feel when you get picked up for a third season? Is there some feeling of surprise?
LAURA SILVERMAN: The first thought is always that I'm happy to have a job in place. The second thought is that I'm so excited to be back with everybody. We really enjoy hanging out with each other.
Is it difficult to get through shootings without cracking up?
We don't really seem to have a problem with it. The only person who has a laughing problem is Steve Agee [who plays Sarah's neighbor Steve Myron]. When he gets the giggles, it can get serious. We're really under tight constraints time-wise. With the budget that we have, we do so much. We all feel that pressure. We don't want to have to lose any shots.
I love the "standard sitcom" format of the show—main plot, plus subplot with Sarah's gay neighbors. What sitcoms did the Silvermans watch when you and Sarah were growing up, and what influenced you?
As little kids, we watched The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and of course, Rhoda and Phyllis. The Bob Newhart Show. That was our Saturday night. The Carol Burnett Show. And, you know, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family. It all started there. We loved TV. Square Pegs was another favorite.
When I watched you and Sarah do your musical number "Baby Penis in Your Mind" together in the first episode this season, I envisioned you two making up songs and performing them together as little kids.
We both have sort of the same goofy way of moving. It's just something we've always done—little song-and-dance numbers.
I know Sarah did some musical theater as a child. Did you?
I did a little bit of it. But she really continued on. Sarah was about 6 years old—I think I was about 10—when we did our first professional production. It was The King and I. It was very exciting for us. I think that's the only show that I did. I was a very shy kid. Sarah was very extroverted. I used to encourage her. She always said she wanted to be an actress.
Is there any similarity between your TV characters and your real-life relationship? Were you ever getting Sarah out of trouble when you were growing up?
She actually was a very, very good kid. I think the sort of heart of it comes from ... Sarah has really fond memories of when we were kids. I really liked to sort of take care of her. She was like my baby doll. I used to love to lay her clothes out for her for school, and make her lunches. I'd make snacks for her and her friends after school. I think that's probably where that comes from. I always thought she was the cutest thing. I adored her.
What can we expect this season?
Because we came so close to not coming back, there was an attitude that this could really be it. [The creative team] wanted to take everything further and have the most possible fun with it. [. . .} There's one episode where it's pretty crazy: There's a baby robot, SWAT teams and a lot of explosives and limbs flying. There's some very graphic, sort of disturbing sexual fetish-type stuff from very unexpected people. And Sarah is an old blind black man [laughs].
Why do you think some people don't get Sarah's humor?
I think we get enough positive feedback. The negative—I don't know, there's something kind of cool about that, too. At least people have a response. You don't want to bore people.
Why is Sarah's little dog Doug absent from the first episode? Is he doing OK?
He's an older dog, although he's in great health. He's like a puppy now. After the health scare—he got pancreatitis—he's been on a special diet. He's actually better than ever. She just doesn't want him to have to work too hard.