As our season 4 review makes very clear: Silicon Valley isn’t just a good show – it’s an exciting one.
The plot moves at a shockingly rapid pace for any show, let alone a half-hour comedy. This is a saga about one man’s journey into the heart of darkness of the world’s weirdest and most insular industry where everything is disrupt-ible and nothing makes sense.
But also: jokes.
While Silicon Valley is indeed spinning a fascinating and satisfying dramatic tale, it also offers us with some of the finest jokes available on television. Optimal tip-to-tip efficiency? Come on, man. That’s been the main exhibit at the traveling museum of modern comedy since 2014. Silicon Valley jokes are that Grey Poupon shit. That TED talk.
With that in mind, after each episode this season we’re going to identify our five favorite jokes. As we’ve come to learn in our JPM studies, what constitutes a “joke” is often subjective. So don’t concern yourself too much with the proper definition of “jokes.” These are the five moments that made us laugh the hardest, ranked in order.
5. “When I was on the street, it was a means of survival.”
Oh sweet, innocent Jared. Jared (Zach Woods) utters this hilariously pathetic line while tending to Richard’s mangled fingernails. It’s a throwaway line that is only addressed onscreen for about two seconds but the imagery it evokes is enough to last a lifetime. One can’t help but envision the gaunt turtleneck mannequin-looking Jared, roaming the streets of San Francisco, looking to turn a trick with his manicuring.
4. “Gilfoyle, can I please be CEO of Pied Piper?” “Spoken like a true leader.”
Here is a prime example of how quickly the plot of Silicon Valley is apt to move. It’s the first episode of the season and Pied Piper/Piper Chat already has a new CEO. Thankfully, the transition of power is done in the funniest way possible. Dinesh is never considered for CEO from the beginning despite his being solely responsible for Pied Piper’s pivot to video chat. He’s just too downtrodden a character to be taken seriously. But when Richard, himself, endorses Dinesh for the job he must appeal to his arch rival Gilfoyle for his vote. Hence “Gilfoyle, can I please be CEO of Pied Piper?”
3. “I’ve always been very adept at taking the shape of whatever shoe pressed down upon me.”
Jared’s on fire in “Success Failure!” This is just a hilarious statement in any context but for Jared it’s even funnier. Over four seasons, we’ve seen time and time again that Jared is very adept at taking the shape of whatever shoe is pressed down upon him, now we just have sufficiently funny and accurate terminology to describe it. Of course, this line comes immediately on the hells of his admission of using his manicuring skills to survive on the street.
2. “Careful kids, he’s gonna peel out.”
Russ Hanneman is one of the few characters on television whose appearance elicits a simultaneous cheer and groan from the audience. God this guy is fucking terrible. But also this guy is fucking terrible! Awesome!. Perhaps the only thing funnier to me than Russ Hanneman’s douchebaggery is the Silicon Valley characters growing tolerance for Russ Hanneman’s douchebaggery. We know Richard is at a low point because he seeks out Russ’s wallet and advice. Then we’re also sadly reminded of how familiar Richard is with Russ. Once Russ angrily gets into his car with suicide doors outside a school Richard knows beyond a shadow of a doubt what happens next. “Careful kids, he’s gonna peel out!”
1. “Cut my life into pieces! This is my last resort!”
I almost counted this and the previous joke as one. But the abrupt intro to Papa Roach’s “Last Resort” packs too big of a comedic punch on its own to be grouped in with anything else. Right before Richard warns the kids that Russ is about to “peel out” we hear the deafening and unmistakable sounds of “CUT MY LIFE INTO PIECES! THIS IS MY LAST RESORT!” blaring from the speakers. Let’s be clear. Regardless of how you feel about Papa Roach or this song, the first three seconds of “Last Resort” will never not be funny. It was funny when it played at the end of an Orange is the New Black episode. It was funny when everyone fell for the Paul Ryan semi-hoax. And it’s funny now.