Sarah Silverman and her friends return tonight in the season 3 premiere of The Sarah Silverman Program (10:30 PM, Comedy Central). I can’t think of many female comedians who specialize in the type of absurd, go-for-broke humor that seems to be dominated by men like Larry David and the South Park guys. The fearless Silverman can certainly hang with those legends and continues to do her best to make you laugh at the most ridiculous, uncomfortable, and/or obscene predicaments she and her writers can imagine. Case in point is tonight’s episode, “The Proof is in the Penis.” In it, Sarah refuses to get a job and her younger, more responsible sister, Laura (played by Silverman’s real life sister, Laura), refuses to pony up the cash for frivolous purchases, including facial waxes. Sarah neglecting her upper lip results in her sprouting a Tom Selleck mustache that puts her in touch with her masculine side. In fact, Sarah learns that she’s actually a hermaphrodite and that when she was born her doctors surgically removed her penis. This isn’t giving away much because this plot point shifts the episode into high gear. It will really make you squirm in discomfort, and feel ashamed because you’re laughing do damn hard.
There is wrong… and then there is wrong. And what Silverman proceeds to do throughout the rest of the episode is hilariously wrong. She’s able to pull it off because she plays off of her girl next door/tom –boy good looks that make her adorable. I’ve always admired Silverman’s ability to push the boundaries of taste, which makes Comedy Central the perfect home for her show. Silverman’s usual supporting cast is back, including her sister and her fiancé, Officer Jay (Jay Johnston; and Sarah’s lovable gay neighbors, Brian and Steve (Brian Posehn and Steve Agee). Like any great comedy cast, all of the actors are in sync and have developed great comic timing with each other. The second episode of season 3, “The Silverman and the Pillows,” isn’t quite as bracing as tonight’s episode, but it still contains enough of the Silverman’s brand of humor to indicate to her fans that this new season will be as good as the previous two.
Also premiering tonight (at 10 PM) is the second season of Important Things with Demetri Martin. Martin has an amiable sense of humor; his low-key delivery and observational humor makes me think he’s this generation’s Stephen Wright (with a dash of Seinfeld thrown in the mix). Important Things is part sketch show and part standup/prop comedy. The sketches I saw were such more humorous than his live material. Apparently I’m not the right audience for Martin’s brand of humor, though, because while I laughed a couple times during the live portion of his show, his studio audience was beside themselves. While I would go out of my way to see Silverman’s program on a regular basis, Important Things with Demetri Martin just isn’t what I ‘m going to track down and watch each week.