Russell Baillie writes about movies for the Herald

Silicon Valley making tech world a funnier place

The team behind e-comedy Silicon Valley talk to Russell Baillie about the show's new series.
The megabucks American tech world it parodies is a gift that just keeps on giving.
The megabucks American tech world it parodies is a gift that just keeps on giving.

Silicon Valley - the serial comedy about a bunch of geek-bros struggling to get their killer app to market so they can become phenomenally rich - has a problem.

The megabucks American tech world it parodies is a gift that just keeps on giving. It's hard to keep up, say its makers.

"I still am continually surprised by how much money people are still making," says co-creator Mike Judge in a voice fans of his Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill will recognise.

Scene from Silicon Valley.
Scene from Silicon Valley.

"Since we started the original pilot seeing Whatsapp selling for what? $19 billion? In our world, probably the most successful person would be [sitcom king] Chuck Lorre who would be getting up to a billion, I think ... and then you've got [Snapchat CEO] Evan Spiegel worth $3 billion at 24 years old.

It's crazy."

Says co-creator Alec Berg, whose previous credits included Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm: "That's how you know you've tapped into something great when the craziest thing you make up is not as crazy as the real stuff.

"Any time you find that going on you have tapped into a rich vein of something."

He enjoys having fun with the real Silicon Valley's mix of hippie and nerd culture, and its clash of philanthropy and corporate ruthlessness.

"Any time you are saying you are making the world a better place and you are putting $35 billion in your pocket, there is a bit of a conflict there."

The show has been embraced by many leading lights of the tech world.

Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin have been spotted sporting T-shirts for Pied Piper (the name of the fictitious killer app). Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has reportedly worn one to work.

Firefox co-creator Blake Ross wrote his own fan-fiction script involving the co-founder of Twitter Jack Dorsey.

Former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who has a background in comedy, was in the writers' room for the new season.

"We kind of have to get it right, says Thomas Middleditch, who plays the show's lead geek, Richard Hendricks, "because the people who work in this industry do have access to the internet and they will let you know if you get it wrong."

"It's funny - the people who watch the show think it's funny because they think we've got it exactly right," says Berg "and I've heard people who say they can't watch it at all because we've got it exactly right and it just makes them sick."

Well, in past seasons, Hendricks, the gangly, awkward CEO of start-up Pied Piper, has suffered vomiting panic attacks. Though Middleditch is happy to report that his guy may have found a cure in season three.

"There's not a lot of puke. You can rest easy."

But Hendricks still has plenty to panic about.

Scene from Silicon Valley.
Scene from Silicon Valley.

He was fired from his CEO role by Pied Piper venture capital's (VC) backers at the end of last season. The beginning of season 3 has him deciding between being demoted to chief technology officer or taking his coding skills elsewhere.

Middleditch did have a moment thinking that his character's firing meant he might become the show's own Ned Stark.

"There was a point where I was, 'I am still on the show right?'"

His ousting was just another example of Silicon Valley drawing its plotlines from an industry which often discards the engineer with the original great idea for someone who can manage a company.

Judge: "When we were researching there was was one VC guy who said 'we have a saying here: It is never too early to fire the founder'."

Scene from Silicon Valley.
Scene from Silicon Valley.

Judge says he and the writers have to be careful how often they pull the mat out from under Hendricks.

"That's the thing that is tricky. If he suddenly becomes a billionaire and lives happily ever after you don't care about him as much. But if you get him failing too much it gets frustrating to watch.

"So that's the balance. I think eventually you are going to get to see him do better.

Though things may eventually start looking up for the hapless Hendricks, the hype and hypocrisy of the real Silicon Valley will still give the show plenty to skewer.

Judge likens the show to the classic heavy metal parody This Is Spinal Tap.

"It took the piss out of heavy metal bands but they all loved it. I've kind of seen that happen with this show.

"When we went to all these companies who told us 'you make fun about making the world a better place by we actually are making the world a better place - here's some of things we are doing'. They get it. But they don't get it."

What: Silicon Valley season 3
Where: SoHo
When: Thursdays 8.30pm from tonight

- TimeOut

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 10 Dec 2016 13:55:48 Processing Time: 546ms