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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Sarah Silverman Program: "Patriot Tact"

Illustration for article titled iThe Sarah Silverman Program/i: Patriot Tact
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Illustration for article titled iThe Sarah Silverman Program/i: Patriot Tact

In the past, I've hypothesized that Sarah Silverman and her show's writers have a list of hot-button or otherwise controversial issues that they consult for each episode. The first half of Season 2 last fall focused on abortion, sexual deviance, racism, but aside from the rape-tastic episode "The Mongolian Beef" two weeks ago, the second half of Season 2 has stayed relatively low-key. If you watch The Sarah Silverman Program, though, you know this won't last. And Thursday night, the "oh no she didn't" style made a semi-triumphant comeback with "Patriot Tact," which was built around the comic shenanigans of Sarah trying to memorialize 9/11.
Seven years may have passed, but for mainstream comedians, 9/11 still seems a little taboo. That's probably not the case for most fans of Silverman and her show; she's worked bits about 9/11 into her stand-up the past few years. I also suspect there's a fair amount of overlap between fans of the SSP and David Cross, who worked 9/11 into his stand-up on a tour just months after it happened. (Our rockstar siblings at The Onion published a cathartic, hysterical issue just two weeks after 9/11.) This is a long way of saying that 9/11 humor isn't as outrageous as it may seem, nor was having Steve and Brian dressed up as the Twin Towers in Sarah's stage show, Never Forget: A Look Back At 9/11. (But Brian's line to the man pretending to be an airplane–"I'm just a nice building! Why are so mean?"–was pretty awesome.)
Sarah's newfound obsession with 9/11 all stemmed from her running over a man (then men) she believed to be Osama bin Laden. That the world's most wanted men would be strolling down the street in Valley Village, in broad daylight, wearing conspicuous clothing, doesn't cross her mind. She just sees this guy (then another one, Fred Armisen), and runs his ass over.


(We'll get to Laura's pubes in a bit.)
Of course, neither man is Osama. The first, Alex Gilbert, a dishwasher at Applebee's, isn't mad at Sarah. He actually thinks her a sort of hero: People have forgotten about 9/11, and the country needs more people to stay vigilant like Sarah. Fred Armisen, playing a guy named Taylor Magenheim, isn't as understanding. After Jay reprimands her about the low likelihood of Osama walking the streets of Valley Village, Sarah responds, "Whoa, I didn't know you and Osama were BFFs, Jay! What's his favorite band, Vampire Weekend? Oh, Eddie Money!"
Even without her car, Sarah goes after a potential Osama she sees on the street (The State's Joe Lo Truglio) while riding her bike, leading to Sarah injuring herself. "Do I look like Osama bin Laden?" Lo Truglio says. "I'm 30 years old! I'm wearing a Wilco T-shirt. TAKE. MEDICINE."
Sarah's latent rage–about what, we never find out–is exhibiting itself in her determination to strike down not only men who look like Osama but pretty much anyone, because Jay says the terrorist would be disguised if he were here. This leads to Sarah's 9/11 show and a run-in with a man who really could've been Osama (who's apparently a tennis enthusiast), and Sarah overcoming her homicidal urges toward men with beards. As she explains to Doug later, if she'd have killed him, "I also would have killed the hope of killing him." This country needs an enemy to unite us–without that, where would we be?
For all the ostensible outrageousness of having Steve and Brian dressed up as the towers for some kiddie 9/11 play, that plotline was the least funny of the episode. As usual, the B- and C-stories had the funnier moments. The SSP threw the Internet community a bone by not only having Laura in a bra at the beginning of the episode, but also devoting a whole storyline to her pubic hair. Laura Silverman's fan club is PSYCHED.
The pubes story ties in to Silverman's recent stand-up material, where she talks about taking showers with her mom as a child. It's such a happy memory for her, but she realized that she was bathing in the runoff water that had traveled through her mom's "giant Bohemian bush." In the episode, Laura keeps things wild and wooly with her "intimate hair," because it's one of the few memories she has of her mom, who died when Laura was young. "Her hair down there was so full and large and alive!" Laura says. "So every time I look down there, I think of her. It's like a keepsake of my body's own making."


(Incidentally, that was the C-plot: Steve mistakes what "full release" means. That's it, but hey, it was funny.)
Jay, who ostensibly has "no complaints" with Laura's giant bush nevertheless sees an opening: He buys her a locket with her mom's picture, so she'll have a more appropriate keepsake. Laura sees right through it, but nevertheless obliges later. Jay's discovery of the shed pubes in the bathroom led to my favorite line of the whole episode: "What happened in the bathroom? Did you set off a furry bomb in there or something? Did a clown tear his hair out in frustration? Did a monkey have chemotherapy?"
Monkey have chemotherapy! Hilarious! (And his line "Oh Larry, you mowed your curly!" was pretty great.)
Still, Laura has reservations about the whole deal, until her mom gives her some guidance from beyond the grave: "Oh Laura sweetie, it's true my pubic hair was very full, but you must understand it was the '70s. That's how everyone had it then. If I was alive today, I'd probably have a racing stripe, or a very trimmed down triangle, or however people wear it these days."
Aww, it's like an awkward after-school special–with some semi-labored 9/11 humor. Thursday's SSP was, as always a mixed bag, and a bit of a disappointment after last week's solid episode. But hey, you can refer to Laura's pubes as a legitimate discussion point for the episode, and not sound like a creep. Or less of one.
Grade: B-
— Steve's getting a massage at a place called Riam Rynch–if you switch the R to L as Asian stereotype dictates, you get Liam Lynch, a musician and director who's worked with Silverman. He directed Jesus Is Magic and co-created MTV's Sifl And Olly Show. I'm like a commentary track over here!
— The name of Jay's apartment building: Casa de Home
— My favorite 9/11 joke:
Knock knock.
Who's there?
9/11 who?
You said you'd never forget!
— That transition from Laura to Brian's beard = awesome.


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