The cast of <EM>The Sarah Silverman Program</EM> The cast of The Sarah Silverman Program

The first season of The Sarah Silverman Program proved to be just as big of a draw for Comedy Central as the network’s stalwart South Park. For its sophomore season, the series is looking to pick up right where it left off with more outlandishly so-wrong-they’re-right storylines. If you’ve never seen an episode, tonight’s second-season premiere (10:30 pm/ET) is a standard helping of outrageousness, with Sarah joining a community group for their lemon bars — only to find out that they are a collective of radical antiabortionists. recently spoke with two actors that perfectly inhabit Silverman’s surreal world, regulars Brian Posehn and real-life sister Laura Silverman. The pair not only provided the lowdown on the new season but also gave their take on the criticism Sarah received for making fun of Britney Spears at the VMAs. Were you two surprised by the first season’s success or was it something you expected?
Laura Silverman: I would say neither. You never know what's going to happen. I guess I was pleasantly surprised, but not shocked.
Brian Posehn: I knew people would like it, because it was great and I knew it was hilarious while we were doing it. But I've done hilarious stuff before that no one watched. So you never really know what's going to catch on. Both of you have done your fair share of sitcom work. How is The Sarah Silverman Program different?
Posehn: The main way it's different is that it's all of our friends doing it. You're not thrown into a room where you don't know anybody. When your friend is the head creative and she has the final say, it's very cool.
Silverman: I would say the same thing. That and it's much more collaborative than some things I've done in the past. It's a very open, creative environment in which to work. So Sarah's not a ruthless taskmaster on the set?
Silverman: [Laughs] No, she loves it. She wants every individual to bring things to the table. She loves when people improvise and try something different.
Posehn: It has to be funny. That's the most pure thing about how she approaches the show. She just wants it to be as funny as possible.
Silverman: Exactly. It's not about her ego at all or doing things exactly as she has written it. Is everybody involved in writing the shows?
Silverman: This past season we all came in as consultants periodically. We were encouraged to come up with storylines for our characters. So we spend a day or two in the writer's room during the week to help out with what they were working on. There was a storyline involving Dungeons & Dragons that they really kind of wanted Brian to take over, because it's something he knows about.
Posehn: Uh, I play every week. Was this the first time you were sought out for your knowledge of role-playing games?
Posehn: Actually, yeah. I did a pilot for Comedy Central years ago with Patton Oswalt about nerds working in a comic-book store. So that was all based on what Patton and I know about that world. But this was definitely the first time I was on a show that writers came to me and said, "Hey, can you make this more D&D-ish? We need this to sound official." People who do D&D are pretty passionate. You must've been under some pressure to make it as accurate as possible.
Posehn: A little bit, but we eventually pushed it. The real D&D guys are going to be like, "Hey, we don't wear costumes when we play."
Silverman: It was adorable to see Brian reading the script and going, "We'd never wear helmets!" It was pretty personal to him.
Posehn: I had to brace my real D&D group and be like, "Hey, look, we're going to have a guy wearing a wizard hat. I know you guys would never wear a wizard hat while playing, but just know we did it for the sake of making the show funnier." Who's actually most like the character they portray?
Posehn: I would say me and Steve.
Silverman: Brian and Steve, for sure.
Posehn: Well, Laura's not really a nurse and Jay's not really a cop. But Steve and I — with the exception of playing gay gentlemen — we are those characters. We do the things we do on the show. For me, they're bringing in even more stuff this season that matches who I really am. They're making him a heavy-metal fan. In one episode coming up, there's a storyline that he's really insecure about talking about politics. That's something that's very true about me. All my friends are so political. I care, but compared to them I don't know what I'm talking about. So that comes into play later this season. Sarah's sense of humor can get a bit risqué from time to time. Has she ever asked you to do or say something in an episode that you didn't feel totally comfortable with?
Silverman: [Laughs] No.
Posehn: We all pretty much have the same sense of humor.
Silverman: Nothing shocks us. I have to say, we had a screening the other night and watched some new episodes. The overwhelming feeling you get is that even though it's raunchy, it's so f--king sweet. It's this playful world with green grass that has such a sweetness to it. There are so many times that you're just like, "Awww."
Posehn: The writers really get what's appealing about Sarah. What people like about her act translates well to the show. You get a smile with a raised eyebrow. She's being dirty, but it's a fun kind of dirty. Sarah ripped Britney Spears pretty hard at the VMAs. Did you guys think it was too cruel or dead on?
Posehn: I thought it was fine. I had read that Britney had actually called her own kids mistakes at one point, so when Sarah called them mistakes, it didn't feel like it was any worse than that.
Silverman: Yeah, it was like a call back to that comment. But also, the thing that people keep overlooking is that Sarah thought Britney was going to come out and be awesome. She is known as a dynamic performer. Sarah wasn't expecting her to have some strange halcyon performance and then come out and rip her. It was live television, so it's not like she can just change her set. What did Sarah think of the way people reacted to those jokes?
Silverman: The thing she felt bad about was that there was some rumor that the reason why Britney didn't perform well is because she overheard Sarah rehearsing her act. That's completely ludicrous. She didn't rehearse her act in front of anybody. But Sarah was kind of upset about the backlash. She's not trying to hurt anybody. She's just trying to be a comedian.
Posehn: That's what you're expected to do on those shows. As a comedian on those shows, you're expected to comment on the acts and rib the show a little. That's what she was doing. So what are your favorite storylines coming up in Season 2?
Posehn: The one where Sarah gets her dog taken away for licking its butt is great. There are some scenes in the courtroom that are really funny.
Silverman: The one I'm most looking forward to seeing is one where Sarah fires her maid. The guest cast was amazing. It was so fun to shoot, too, because we actually shot on the same Mexican village set where they shot Three Amigos. I love that one. I also sing with Sarah a little bit in an episode called "Doody." [Laughs]
Posehn: Doody. [Laughs] We get to act like we're 8. That's why I love working on this show.

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