- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sarah’s wicked world

Watching Sarah Silverman talk dirty isn’t so shocking anymore.

The pretty comic has displayed her potty mouth onstage, in the film “The Aristocrats” and in her own stand-up feature “Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic.”

That’s a roadblock for her new limited series, “The Sarah Silverman Program,” debuting on Comedy Central at 10:30 tonight.

We’re expecting her to be outrageous, and while she never disappoints, it also feels too contrived to catch us off balance. It also could be a while before we take her — flaws and all — into our hearts the way we did Archie Bunker.

Miss Silverman plays a variation of her stage persona for the new series, a deeply selfish woman who hasn’t a clue just how mean she can be. She’s a politically incorrect poster girl who giggles while she offends.

“I didn’t mean it,” that Kewpie doll voice tells us, but deep down we suspect otherwise.

In the first installment, Sarah tries to break up a budding romance between her sister, Laura (Miss Silverman’s real-life sister) and a local cop.

The jokes often fall below the belt, and the series stops occasionally for Miss Silverman to take song breaks. The lyrics here are mildly witty at best, and the gimmick is more adventurous than comical.

“The Sarah Silverman Program” is mean-spirited at times and also sporadically funny. It’s also far different in tone from just about any other show, and that alone deserves applause.

However, until the on-screen Sarah finds a way to make her naughtiness less programmed, she’ll neither offend nor make us eager for more.

Letterman milestone

Has it really been that long?

The host of “The Late Show With David Letterman” marks 25 years in late-night television tonight at 11:35 on CBS.

Fellow funnyman Bill Murray will be on hand to help him celebrate. The comic-turned-actor was the first guest on Mr. Letterman’s “Late Night” show on Feb. 1, 1982, and also was the inaugural guest of his first “Late Show” broadcast on Aug. 30, 1993.

From YouTube to TV

Bloggers have scored book deals. Now a YouTube discovery is moving to late-night television.

Lisa Donovan — known as “Lisa Nova” on the video-sharing Web site — joins the cast of MadTV starting Feb. 17. The Emmy-winning sketch comedy show, in its 12th season, airs Saturdays at 11 p.m. on Fox.

Miss Donovan auditioned for MadTV in the past, but it wasn’t until she started posting her short films on YouTube that the show came calling. MadTV’s casting director saw her popular videos on the site and asked her to audition again. This time she was successful.

Burnett’s quiz show

If you find “Jeopardy!” too difficult, Fox has something right up your alley.

“Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” is the latest show from “Survivor” creator Mark Burnett. Adult contestants will face questions taken from actual textbooks from the first through fifth grades, such as, “What are the colors of a rainbow?” and “In what state is Mount Rushmore located?”

In case you’ve forgotten those things you used to know, perhaps you can brush up on your knowledge with real-life grade-schoolers.

“5th Grader’s” initial six-episode run starts with half-hour preview installments following “American Idol” on Feb. 27 and 28. Beginning March 1, hourlong episodes will air Thursdays at 9 p.m.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Kelly Jane Torrance from staff reports.

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