Before he made us simultaneously blush and belly laugh with irreverent comedies like 1999’s Office Space and the edgy animated sitcoms Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill, Mike Judge spent the late ’80s putting his physics degree to use as a Silicon Valley engineer.
Now Judge commemorates that experience in HBO’s new live-action comedy Silicon Valley, which focuses on socially awkward computer programmer Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and his trio of comrades who live in the home of eccentric millionaire Erlich (T.J. Miller) while plotting a startup of their own.
In exchange for free accommodations at his “Hacker Hostel,” Erlich demands 10 percent of his guests’ future profits — which could get interesting after Richard invents a search algorithm that sparks a bidding war between his current boss and a billionaire venture capitalist.
At a recent press event, Judge said that much of the humor in the eight-episode series comes from the outsized egos that grew big and strong in America’s “cradle of innovation.”
“Just noticing, even before doing the show, that for a lot of these people, it’s not enough that they make billions of dollars — they also have to say they’re saving the world in all kinds of ways,” he said. “That’s just kind of funny. … And there’s still a lot of that lingering around. They all have to shroud their capitalism with this ‘we’re making the world a better place’ thing — which is kind of a running theme.”
Judge’s cowriter Alec Berg credits the show’s technical consultant Jonathan Dotan for keeping Silicon Valley technically sound and still user-friendly. “That’s where having a guy like [him] is essential, where it’s just like, ‘OK, there’s 35 words here. I don’t understand what any of them mean. What are the four or five that we absolutely have to have to convey what we’re conveying and not make this just gibberish?”
Silicon Valley airs Sundays at 10/9 CT beginning April 6 on HBO.
Photo Credit: HBO/Isabella Vosmikova