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If we can put a man on the Moon, then we can put a man with AIDS on the Moon. And pretty soon, we'll be able to put everyone with AIDS on the Moon!
—Sarah Silverman, Sarah Silverman Program
Created by Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab of Channel 101 and Community fame along with Silverman herself, the show's humour is predominantly based on satirizing conventional "family-friendly" or wholesome television programs. The show was originally titled with European English, as "The Sarah Silverman Programme". It was shown on Comedy Central in the United States, for three seasons consisting of six episodes each, then it was canceled.
Comedy Central then decided to bring it back for a third season which aired alongside Important Things with Demetri Martin. The show is now canceled. Reruns air on the gay-themed channel Logo apparently only because the show features a Straight Gay couple (who are actually played by straight actors).
It stars Sarah Silverman, playing a sometimes-sweet sometimes-Jerkass but always oblivious version of herself, similar to her persona from her stand-up routine. She is unemployed and supported by her sister, a nurse (Laura Silverman), who is dating a cop (Jay). She has two gay neighbors, Brian and Steve, or "gaybors" as her Nana calls them. As with most Dead Baby Comedies, Your Mileage May Vary.
This show provides examples of the following tropes:
- Abuse Mistake: The weird accidents happening to Laura. She only needed glasses.
- Acting for Two: The young actress who plays Sarah's daughter in "Not Without My Daughter" is the same actress who plays the child version of Sarah in the Pilot and other episodes.
- Adam Westing
- All Take and No Give: Sarah. Oh god, Sarah. She is a lazy freeloader who has all of her money and her apartment provided to her by her sister, a hard-working nurse, and for this Sarah gives zero gratitude.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted in that Sarah is shown on the toilet in the title sequence.
- Berserk Button: Sarah befriends a homeless guy she knew in high school. When she mentions his mother 'queefing' he goes crazy and tries to kill her. He is stopped by Brian who Took a Level In Badass and stops him with the karate he had learned.
- Jay hates slang.
- Black Like Me: Parodied. The plot of an entire episode involves Sarah getting into an argument over whether it's harder to be black or Jewish. Sarah spends the rest of the episode in Al Jolson-style Blackface.
- "I look like the beautiful Queen Latifah."
- It's later revealed that the black man she got into the argument with spent the same amount of time in a false hooked nose, a yarmulke, glued-on side curls and a T-shirt that read I <3 MONEY!.
- The T-shirt's words are in faux-Hebrew text.
- "I look like the beautiful Queen Latifah."
- Butt Monkey: Jay is this to Sarah, but sometimes to the other characters as well, especially Brian and Steve. Jay may come off as a little cocky but he never does anything remotely deserving of the treatment he receives from the other characters.
- Coming Out Story: Sarah tries to help Steve's parents accept him for being gay. Of course she does this by explicitly describing his sex life and then giving them acid.
- Crossover: Mini Coffee originally appeared in the failed Channel 101 pilot Thriller Chiller Theater.
- Couch Gag: The opening monologue and the pictures shown are different for each episode.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Jay may be goofy and bumbling most of the time, but you should never underestimate his skill as a cop. Case in point: he stopped a hitman using a slice of lemon.
- Crying Wolf: Season 2, Episode 10, Patriot Act. Sarah attacks and accuses many bearded folks of being Osama Bin Laden. Obviously, they're not. Laura grows tired of it, and demands that Sarah just control herself, no matter what she thinks she sees. Later, while riding her green sit-and-bounce, Sarah actually does cross paths with Bin Laden, who is getting ready for a round of tennis.
- The Cutie: Laura.
- The Danza: Applies to most of the cast, first and last (but not middle) name for the title character and her sister.
- Dead Baby Comedy
- Dead TV Remote Gag: Pilot episode.
- Divine Race Lift:
- Downer Ending: Oh god, Breve...
- Egg Sitting: Jay and Laura try to put Sarah through this to give her a chance to prove that she's capable of raising her baby herself. The egg rolls out of Sarah's hand and breaks on the floor the moment Laura lets go of it.
- End-of-Episode Silliness: Some of Sarah's episode-ending conversations with her dog veer in this direction.
- The Eponymous Show
- Fag Hag: Her best, if not only friends are the gay couple next door, though she seems to forget that they're even gay sometimes.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Sarah sues Home Alone. Not the makers of it, the movie itself. The judge points out that you can't sue a movie, which is an amorphous concept. She ends up winning the case anyways.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Parodied. One episode revolves around Brian and Steve attempting to stop pro-life activists from blowing up an abortion clinic, and it's shown that Sarah has had quite a few abortions herself.
- Groin Attack: The first season finale ends with Sarah getting kicked in the crotch by some kid with leukemia.
- Steve gets hit in the crotch over and over again after he says he's an atheist.
- Sarah actually kicks God in the groin.
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Averted. Dougie kills a certain Austrian art student and saves Sarah's life, incidentally preventing the Holocaust too. She admonishes him for messing with history, but lets him off easy considering all the good he did.
- Hugh Mann: Subverted. Brian and Steve try to impersonate one another in an attempt to convince Brian's father that they did not change bodies after touching a Chinese dragon phone at the same time, but this fails, as he himself is actually a Chinese hooker who switched bodies with him through the same means.
- Impromptu Tracheotomy: Sarah's aesop for an episode.
- I Take Offense to That Last One:
Girl: What do you know about talent? You're unemployed, single, over 30 and you severely overestimate your cuteness!
- Informed Judaism: Sarah and her sister are mentioned as being Jewish several times in the show.
- It Makes Sense in Context: Many subplots, and, occasionally, entire plots, are built around the deconstruction of this trope.
- Jerkass: Sarah.
- Lesbian Cop: Tig.
- Love At First Sight: Laura and Jay.
- Man Child: Sarah is a female version of this.
- Matzo Fever: Sarah is well aware she is "sort of cute in a Jewy kind of way."
- No Bisexuals: Averted in that Brian thinks he might be bi instead of gay in one episode.
"I learned today ... gay, bisexual it really doesn't matter, because at the end of the day they're both gross." -Sarah.
- Radish Cure: Inverted in the episode Muffin' Man when Steve tells Brian to drink a Tab soft drink Brian doesn't really want, Brian pretends to become obsessed with Tab. Steve reciprocates and it becomes an escalating war.
- Real Life Relative: Sarah Silverman and Laura Silverman. it's not a coincidence.
- Although in real life, Laura is Sarah's older sister.
- Screwed by the Network: Despite its immediate and continual success, networks rarely showed reruns of the episodes for very long, and after every season ended, all episodes and ads and discussion of the show would be dropped for months at a time. Fans were in a constant state of not knowing whether or not the show had been cancelled yet. After a third season, the show's episodes were quickly pulled away again ... only with a quiet message saying the show has been cancelled.
- Shout-Out: Christopher Eccleston appears in a clear Doctor Who parody.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Laura and Jay.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Brian says he's bisexual, and by bisexual, we mean he glues pictures of Steve's head over the bodies of girls in bikinis. He doesn't know what to make of it.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis Jay to Sarah. Jay is generally a nice guy but Sarah resents having to compete with him for her sister's attention.
- Sit Comic
- So Unfunny It's Funny: Can almost be said of the whole show due to it being a Dead Baby Comedy as stated above, but specifically Sarah's little intentionally lame jokes and puns.
- Jay's 'gentle' comedy.
- Spoof Aesop: Every episode ends with one.
- Stoners Are Funny: Brian and Steve.
- Straight Gay: Brian and Steve.
- To the point that for the first two seasons they had to regularly remind the audience that they were gay. The most the couple had ever done on screen had give a hyper-manly fist-bump.
- They come off much more as overweight nerds than Camp Gay. In fact, their nerdiness is much more important to their characters than the incidental fact of their sexuality.
- In DVD commentary Brian mentions that he didn't know the two characters were supposed to be gay until well into the 1st season. It was an afterthought, apparently.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: In the episode "'Positively Negative'" Sarah has this interaction with a third grade class she is educating about AIDS awareness
Class: Good morning, Mrs. Silverman.
- Toilet Humor: This show has it in spades.
- In the pilot, Sarah accidentally poops on herself while attempting to make a fart joke.
- Sarah and a young girl sing about pooping at the mall.
- The plot of an entire episode is about the consequences of Sarah licking her dog's anus.
- Steve farts in Jay's police cruiser after Jay complains that Steve shouldn't have called 911 just to have Jay give him a ride.
- "Whatever happened to that white dog poop from The Seventies?"
- Sarah's attempts to queef are part of an episode's plot.
- Undisclosed Funds: Non-monetary variation when Sarah writes down the number of sex partners she has had instead of saying the number aloud.
- Played with in another episode when Sarah says, "Maybe this will change your mind", writes something on a piece of paper (presumably a monetary amount) and slides it over face down. When turned over it says: "Please!"
- Unkempt Beauty: Sarah.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist
- Viewers are Morons: lampshaded.
- What the Hell Costuming Department: When Sarah is trying to dress up prettily.
- Whoopi Epiphany Speech: Subverted in that Sarah never learns anything, at least not anything true, sensible or worthwhile.
- Yoko Oh No: Brian and Steve get in a fight in an attempt to avert this.