On this special bonus episode of Recode Decode, the cast and creators of the HBO hit comedy “Silicon Valley” joined Kara Swisher onstage after the screening of the first two episodes of Season Four. The conversation ranged from robots to mansplaining to how the crew feels about various Silicon Valley companies. It’s all pretty funny.
You can read some of the highlights from the interview at that link, or listen to it in the audio player below. We’ve also provided a lightly edited complete transcript of their conversation.
Kara Swisher: Today, we’ve got something special to share. It’s a live interview I did with the creators and cast behind HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” I spoke to Thomas Middleditch, who stars as Pied Piper CEO Richard Hendrix; Kumail Nanjiani, who plays Dinesh; Martin Starr, who plays Gilfoyle; Zach Woods, who plays Jared; Amanda Crew, who plays Monica; and executive producers Mike Judge, Alec Berg and Clay Tarver.
This interview was recorded at the Season Four premiere at the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco’s Presidio just after we watched the first two episodes of the season, which I can say are fantastic. The first of those episodes aired on HBO last Sunday. Let’s take a listen.
That was a fantastic ... I think everyone, I thought it was the best two shows I’ve seen ever, actually.
In fairness, though, how many shows have you seen?
All of them, actually.
You’ve seen three.
I’ve seen three, and this is ... But through the whole season, it’s got a real edge to it now, like a real emotional edge, which I thought ... That wasn’t lacking before, but there’s something else going on here. And also, a line like “The Sizzler buffet for the sexually deranged,” which I thought was my favorite line of all time.
So, Mike, why don’t we start with you. You know, four seasons in, a lot of shows start to wobble a little bit; this doesn’t seem wobbly at all. What were you thinking going into this season?
Mike Judge: We were thinking “Don’t wobble, whatever you do.” I don’t know, we just kind of ... Every season, we pick up with whatever mess we left ourselves in last season, and this one was the video-chat.
And we went around like we do, we go around and ask a lot of people who are here, Michael Stoppelman, from Yelp, we go and just say, “Here’s where our guys are, what do you think would happen? What stories do you have?” I don’t know, it’s just ... The writing process, it’s kind of boring, actually, and tedious, and long.
When you went around, Alec, what was the mood of the people in Silicon Valley? Have things changed since you guys started?
Alec Berg: Yeah. I mean, it’s funny. When we were doing a lot of the research for Season Two, it felt like a lot of the conversations we were having were about how there was definitely a bubble.
Alec Berg: And it was gonna burst at any moment.
Alec Berg: And a lot of the conversations we had with VCs when we would ask about that would start with them kind of going, “Yeah, it’s gonna happen.”
And then, I felt like last year ... I don’t know, maybe it’s just, they let a little air out of it. People feel much more comfortable and it doesn’t feel like there’s impending doom in the same way.
Except, you know, Uber.
Alec Berg: Yeah, in fairness, when we did the research, that was months ago. I mean, Uber was a great company with great culture.
Right, okay. Yeah. Did you guys, you laughed most of all, I’m going to ask you all about Uber and what you think about it, but do you guys, going into it, because when you have a role and you keep doing it, and ... Startups, they take forever, and then people have heights and valleys they go into, how are you guys approaching it with the new ideas around what was happening? Thomas, why don’t you start?
Thomas Middleditch: As much as our varying degrees of interest in technology go, I think we’re all approaching it just, as lamely as this sounds, as actors. So we just want to make sure that there’s stuff within the character that we can latch onto and that there’s interesting dynamics to that, and that also there’s enough comedy for us to play with and have fun with.
For me, personally, with Richard, this whole season starts off with kind of a big emotional thing to latch onto, the fact that you’re kind of saying goodbye to your friends and starting your own thing. I like that scene with him and Jared and he’s like, “Go on, get.” You know? I like that.
Zach Woods: We called that the “Old Yeller” scene.
Thomas Middleditch: No no, it was the “White Fang” moment. Those moments are just fun, and the rest of the season has a lot of that. There’s some good, I don’t want to say “claw marks” to latch onto, that doesn’t make any sense. I’m picturing a climbing-wall and those little nipples that you grab onto.
Zach Woods: Yeah, they’re called nipples.
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah, climbing nipples.
Zach Woods: Mountain areolas.
Thomas Middleditch: Acting is like scaling a large, hard, granite breast with a bunch of nipples.
Zach Woods: Like, at the bottom of Mount Rushmore there’s just Jefferson’s ...
So you guys visited Uber today, right? No, I’m kidding.
Zach Woods: No.
Thomas Middleditch: Only every day.
Old Yeller or White Fang or whatever you are ...
Zach Woods: Any of the sad dogs.
You were doing those lines so beautifully, like, the idea of a dog.
Zach Woods: Aw, thanks.
Thomas Middleditch: Those were my lines.
Kumail Nanjiani: Wait, which one? Just kidding.
Zach Woods: I didn’t watch it, so I don’t know what anyone’s talking about, but I have a vague memory of it.
Kumail Nanjiani: Zach’s not a fan of the show.
Zach Woods: Yeah, I don’t like ... I’m more of a “Rizzoli & Isles” guy, myself. But it was really fun, I think one of the challenges of doing a show, like you said, year after year, is, you want to maintain the core of what people like about the characters and the dynamics, but not be so reiterative that it just feels like, “Oh Jesus, this shtick again.”
And I think one thing that these guys are amazing at is expanding the characters in a way that makes it feel novel without abandoning the thing that was the initial point of interest in the character. It reminds me, do you ever see “Crimes and Misdemeanors”?
A long time ago.
Zach Woods: Okay. So you know Alan Alda is that douchebag, but he always goes like, “If it bends, it’s funny; if it breaks, it’s not funny”? But I feel like that’s a joke, because he’s so pretentious in that movie, but I actually kind of feel like that’s true with the characters in this. I think they’re good at bending it but not breaking it.
Yeah. My favorite scene for the whole thing was when you were stuck in the car and couldn’t get out.
Zach Woods: Yeah, that was in a real shipping container. We shot that in an actual thing. I had nightmares, I had real, actual nightmares.
That they were gonna just send you off?
Zach Woods: Yeah. But it was a remote-controlled car, that wasn’t a real self-driving car, so the guy was driving it, we’re down the street, and they crashed into a curb, and I was like, “Oh, I’m very vulnerable right now.”
I’m gonna go down the line, if you don’t mind. Kumail, the hair, fantastic.
Kumail Nanjiani: Yes, thank you so much.
I wish you had worn it tonight, I mean, it was like ...
Kumail Nanjiani: Worn it? No, that was my hair. I honestly would have that hair and I would walk straighter.
Who were you trying to be when you were ... Because you perfectly ... I’ve met about 15 people like that recently.
Kumail Nanjiani: Well, I don’t want to name the people, I totally look like I have anime hair, and it was fun to play like, “This is Shadiness, this is the best version of Dinesh and his head, is that douchebag.” So it was really fun, and honestly, I felt different when I had that hair. I felt more confident. I just felt more like myself, you know?
Right, okay. And the blazer?
Kumail Nanjiani: Oh, yeah, I’ve kept all the blazers.
Kumail Nanjiani: No, that was really fun to do because, you know, he’s a guy who’s always like, he has schemes and he wants to be successful, but he never succeeds. He’s sort of like, he’s a loser, so it was good to be able to be kind of a winner for two and a half scenes, you know?
Right, right, absolutely. And really lose, at the same time.
Kumail Nanjiani: And then just endanger the lives of many small children.
Right, exactly, especially young girls.
Thomas Middleditch: That’s always been a dream of yours, isn’t it, Kumail?
Kumail Nanjiani: Since I was a little kid in Pakistan, I was like, “How do I ruin the lives of white children?” Is this recorded? Fuck.
Thomas Middleditch: Not in these times!
Kumail Nanjiani: It was a joke, I love America.
Want to get to your tweeting, too, because I think it’s brilliant, that stuff that you’ve been doing online.
Kumail Nanjiani: Thank you.
It’s mostly anti-Trump.
Kumail Nanjiani: This is a very pro-Trump crowd, we have to be careful.
Yeah, exactly, yeah. You don’t want to offend them at all. What got you doing that? Or just, you just feel ...
Kumail Nanjiani: What got me doing ...
Yeah, why did you ... A lot of people don’t, they don’t.
Kumail Nanjiani: I just sort of would read things that were happening.
Zach Woods: Hey, how come you didn’t mention my pro-Jill Stein blog?
Oh, that’s right, that’s right.
Kumail Nanjiani: Yeah, he’s got a shirt that says, “I’m With Her,” and then there’s a parenthesis, it says, “(Not Hilary, Jill)” and then the “Stein” in the back of it, it’s a lot of words.
Yeah, I missed that, I’m so sorry, yeah.
Zach Woods: Well, it’s hurtful.
Yeah. So, Amanda, the toilet.
Amanda Crew: The toilet.
Amanda Crew: Yeah, that was a very fun ... Well, when we read it, I kind of pictured it in my head, but then, when we actually got to the set that they had built, I mean, we were all dying.
But seeing Mike stand there, being like, “So, you guys have to ...” he was instructing the guys how they need to like, piss in the urinal, like, “Don’t, not that far,” you know. And then there’s a guy actually in the shitter, and you can just see his feet.
Kumail Nanjiani: There wasn’t a guy actually taking a shit.
Amanda Crew: Oh yeah, he was a very method background actor.
Kumail Nanjiani: Okay.
Amanda Crew: And Mike requested it.
How do you feel, like, you have to carry every single woman in Silicon Valley as your role ...
Amanda Crew: Yeah, no pressure.
No pressure whatsoever. How do you feel about that?
Amanda Crew: I remember when we did the first screening at South by Southwest? You ever heard of it?
But that was like, the very first question, it was something about representing women in tech, and it was, like, the worst feeling, because I just felt like it was for some reason my ... I don’t know, it was just all this pressure, and there’s been all this focus.
But now it’s exciting, because I’m getting to meet some of these women and speak out about it, and I’m now investing, I’ve invested in two female-run companies, and ...
Amanda Crew: Yeah!
Amanda Crew: Thank you.
What are they?
Amanda Crew: One is called Randian, and it’s like a checkout ... I’m so bad at explaining these things.
Amanda Crew: It’s basically, they own the patent for when you’re watching media online and it doesn’t have to be in their player, but you can click on things, and they have, they can do the checkout within it, and so it’s like direct-to-consumer. And then another is, they’re trying to build a women’s network online, sort of thing.
So why ... are you gonna ... sorry.
Kumail Nanjiani: I was gonna make a really horrible joke.
Well, go for it.
Amanda Crew: Do it!
Kumail Nanjiani: How do we get access to it?
Zach Woods: "How do we control it?"
Kumail Nanjiani: How do we control it?
Amanda Crew: You grab it.
Thomas Middleditch: You see, Kara, what Amanda is trying to tell you is ...
Well done. Are the rest of you investing at all? Or do you ever ...
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah, I’m doing a little bit, I’m helping some of you guys in the room, just a few weeks ago. Yeah, I mean, nothing is concrete, we’re also trying to figure it out, but yeah, I mean, this show’s opened that sort of direct line to this whole world, and some of this stuff is genuinely interesting.
I mean, no slight to it because I use it, but like, we did an episode about Richard going off and getting fake rendered mustaches and how absurd that is, and then months later Snapchat does all the filters and stuff, but I use that, I’m not throwing it under the bus, but I would say it’s hard to argue that makes the world a better place, so some of this stuff, the more, I guess, manufacture-y, industrial, thing, I ...
Kumail Nanjiani: But you use Snapchat and you make really funny videos, and they make the world a better place.
Amanda Crew: Because we’re like, laughing, we’re so happy.
Kumail Nanjiani: Which makes us better.
Thomas Middleditch: Thank you so much, I’m so honored.
Kumail Nanjiani: Yeah, we love Snapchat.
Thomas Middleditch: No, I don’t mean that. I’m not on an anti-Snapchat train, I just ... I don’t know, I guess, I like the sort of new moguls of Musk, building gargantuan lithium ...
The new moguls of Musk?
Thomas Middleditch: Like, building gargantuan solar plants and battery plants and stuff, just trying to ...
Kumail Nanjiani: Stave off our destruction?
Thomas Middleditch: Stave off our destruction. I’d take that tycoon over, you know ...
Zach Woods: A mustache on the apocalypse?
Thomas Middleditch: A mustache on the apocalypse. I hope that was in any way articulate, but probably to most people I sounded more dumb than I could possibly ever get.
It seems more substantive. Presumably. He did start off with a tiny payments company, though, it took almost all of his money, doing that.
Thomas Middleditch: Sure, yeah.
Let me get to Martin. Martin, speaking of the apocalypse ...
Thomas Middleditch: You know, you open it up, you say, “What are you guys getting into?” And then just sat back and watched us flame out in front of you. You said you were auditioning for some roles, what roles were you auditioning for in Hollywood?
I am not doing that.
Kumail Nanjiani: She’s already been on the show.
I have. I was hoping to date you on the show, I was hoping that was, I had ...
Kumail Nanjiani: Were you really?
Yeah, I was.
Kumail Nanjiani: Wow, I mean, guys, this is a great storyline. Dinesh dates Kara Swisher.
Right, exactly, but I had Matt Ross on my podcast this week, it’s gonna premier next week, and we’ve arranged to do that.
Kumail Nanjiani: To date?
Kumail Nanjiani: Huh.
Martin Starr: He’s married.
I know that, it’s okay, it’s San Francisco.
Martin Starr: Okay, it’s your thing.
So your role, talk about your role and who you’re trying to talk to, because you do represent a lot of mentalities ...
Martin Starr: The audience.
The audience, right, I got that.
Martin Starr: Mostly.
So, where do you go with your character? Besides wallowing in other people’s pain?
Martin Starr: Other people’s pain? He’s got plenty of his own pain to wallow in. I don’t know how to answer that question.
All right, then answer any question you’d like.
Martin Starr: Okay, it’s approximately 9:47.
Thomas Middleditch: The question you want to be asked is, “What time is it?”
Kumail Nanjiani: No, “What time is it an hour later?” The question was, “What time is it an hour later?” Because it’s actually 8:47.
Martin Starr: Nailed it. Don’t have a watch. So that’s where I want to be, is 9:47.
We have a great time making this, as you can tell.
Martin Starr: And now you’re a part of it.
I know, exactly. Do you like each other?
Martin Starr: We love each other.
Martin Starr: I say that without any sarcasm.
All right, okay. Where are you going with your character this season?
Martin Starr: You mean, what happens through the season?
No, not what happens, what do you want it ... How do you want it to follow up with the story?
Martin Starr: What do I want, well, it’s already ... we’ve already shot it, so my feelings at this point are ... Irregardless.
All right, next season.
Martin Starr: I don’t know, I’m enjoying the fun that we have as partners, which we get to play a little bit more with this year, Dinesh and I really get to fuck around.
Yeah, yeah. Really?
Martin Starr: Yeah. It’s fun that we try to succeed in the same way and the entire time cut each other down because we don’t want the other to succeed. It’s a fun dynamic.
Yeah. I’m thrilled you guys brought back Russ Hanneman, who’s, I think, my favorite character of all time on that show. Clay, I had no idea what you do, so ...
Clay Tarver: I don’t either.
I don’t either, so explain.
Clay Tarver: Why am I here?
I don’t know.
Clay Tarver: No, I’m one of the writers and showrunners of the show. And I also love Russ Hanneman, and I thought it was great he came back. What was the music cue this time?
Alec Berg: That was Papa Roach.
Clay Tarver: Papa Roach. I always feel like if you listen very closely, there had been some excellent ones, like Crazy Town, and what was the other one?
Alec Berg: Yeah, some great douchebag anthems.
Clay Tarver: Limp Bizkit?
Alec Berg: Yeah, Limp Bizkit, Nookie.
Mike Judge: Amy had mentioned that one of the ending songs, the Nas song, was written about the show or something?
Kumail Nanjiani: Wait, Nas wrote a shong about our, he wrote a shong about our sow?
Mike Judge: Yeah, yeah.
Go ahead, go ahead.
Kumail Nanjiani: Shilicon Valley?
Mike Judge: Couldn’t you tell from the lyrics?
Zach Woods: Kumail had oral surgery right before this went down.
Kumail Nanjiani: Earlier todah.
Go ahead, you were speaking.
Mike Judge: Oh yeah, no, that was it. The song after the first episode is DJ Shadow and Nas, and that’s ... It’s not out yet, that was the first time it’s been, I think, heard in front of more than like, 10 people, yeah. I love the song, personally, but ...
Alec Berg: Was this the designated audience, like the intended audience for it?
Kumail Nanjiani: Yeah, Nas requested this makeup.
Go ahead, Clay, go ahead, sorry.
Clay Tarver: I just also want to say, we feel like you were one of the first people in the Valley to really get behind the show.
Clay Tarver: You made an early appearance.
Anything that will mock the people of Silicon Valley, I’m behind.
Clay Tarver: Yes.
I enjoy it. My favorite part is, they think you love them, that you weren’t using them for your own ...
Clay Tarver: Don’t tell them.
I know, I try to, but ...
Clay Tarver: You tell them all the time.
No, they think they’re complimented, a lot of people.
Kumail Nanjiani: A lot of people are like, “You know what? All these other people are like this here, I’m not.” But everybody you talk to says that, and that’s part of why we get away with it, is that nobody has the self-awareness to think it’s about them.
Right, exactly, which is perfect, which works perfectly. Right now, recently, “Billions,” I know a lot of hedge fund guys, and they all think they’re Axe, and they’re all the little nasty little prick guy, and not Axe, but they’re all like, “I’m Axe.” I’m like, “No, you’re not.” So it’s the same thing.
Clay Tarver: That’s a Showtime show.
Showtime show, sorry, I’m sorry. It’s a really good show, you should watch it.
Kumail Nanjiani: How is it when compared to Shilicon Valley?
Anyway, Clay, when you’re running the show, what is it like now in Hollywood to run this show in this many seasons?
Clay Tarver: It is fantastic.
All right, beyond that answer.
Clay Tarver: I think that it’s a challenge, like you said, to keep the quality high, and to keep everybody loving each other, but I think we have it. And we also feel like this world has a lot to explore in it, so as we go forward, I think the guys will face harder and harder choices, but also evolve, like any company.
What do you guys think of Silicon Valley now? Where do you think it is at this point? Because the writers ...
Kumail Nanjiani: Season Four.
Season Four, I got that. It’s season, like, 400, for Silicon Valley, but how do you look at Silicon Valley right now? Because, you know, Trump has attacked it, everyone thinks they’re coastal elites, that some of the reasons for the election were because these people are stealing jobs, becoming wealthy and leaving behind everyone.
You don’t reflect that in this season, of course, because you did it before, but how do you incorporate that in and feel about that? Go ahead, Mike.
Mike Judge: I think we’re gonna have to take a month ... I mean, we don’t start writing until the end of June for the next season, so I think we’re gonna have to take a month or two and just sort of let all of this stuff steep.
Mike Judge: And then just kind of figure out what of it is resonating. I mean, the tricky thing with the show is, we write the show months before we shoot it, and we shoot it months before it airs, so it’s hard to be topical. The things that we kind of draw on are things that have to be something that will last, so we can’t really chase trends, but ...
Kumail Nanjiani: You’ll see our United episode a year and a half from now.
Mike Judge: But we’ll see, I mean, we’ll see what happens with ... I feel like H-1B visas is probably something that we’ll tackle if things keep going ...
Kumail Nanjiani: I wonder which character would be the way in to something like that. It would be Gilfoyle, he’s Canadian.
Yeah, that’s right.
Martin Starr: Interesting theory.
Yeah. What other topics do you think?
Mike Judge: We’ve already established that Dinesh is a U.S. citizen, we know that already. I mean, thankfully, we know all the people at “Veep,” thank god we’re not a political show right now, because it seems like it’s impossible to do a political show that’s satire right now.
Mike Judge: That would be exceedingly difficult.
I just did a podcast with them at South By, and they were talking about that, the idea that it couldn’t get more ridiculous, and they keep thinking of ridiculous things and then it gets more ridiculous.
Zach Woods: It’s hard to imagine a world so absurd that Jill Stein doesn’t win the election. It’s like, how do you top that in terms of outrageous tomfoolery?
Kumail Nanjiani: It’s PresidentJillStein.blogspot.com
Zach Woods: Yeah, backslash charcoal drawings.
Mike Judge: No, I mean, one of the conceits that we’ve always played with is the personalities, and so, I think we draw on a lot of this sort of business stuff. We did that, as you saw, that whole thing about VR being a sexy thing that nobody understands and people will hurl money at it but god knows if it’s gonna work or not. But I think we also make a lot of hay out of the personalities and the types, and that’s not something that shows up one week and goes away the next.
Right. But getting more political, do you guys want the show to get more political, or is it just sort of “Let’s make fun of the idiots of Silicon Valley” kind of thing?
Zach Woods: I think it’s a tricky thing, like, you guys make fun of the “Let’s make the world a better place all the time” people, and then if you get a show that’s too shrill or sanctimonious, then you sort of become the person you’re parodying a little bit, like if it becomes an implement of moral instruction, as opposed to a satirical show. I mean, this is your problem, not mine, but I’m just speculating.
Kumail Nanjiani: It has to be funny, right?
Zach Woods: Yeah, it has to be funny first, I think.
Kumail Nanjiani: So I assume if they can find a way to make the political stuff funny, they’d do it, but if they don’t, they won’t, right? If we’re around next year.
Thomas Middleditch: If you wait 30 minutes, “Veep” comes on after. As long as politics, however it applies to Silicon Valley, be it people coming out of the closet as secret bigots and whatnot or visas and whatever else, I think maybe there would be where the Venn diagram would overlap and would draw commentary, per chance?
Maybe. Go ahead, Mike.
Mike Judge: Maybe. We just finished this season, and then, frankly, we’re completely out of ideas, so I can’t even tell you what we’ll begin to address next season.
So what would you guys like to address? What technological ... hey Amanda, why don’t you join in, what technological things, since you’re the investor?
Amanda Crew: Oh god, I don’t know, I’m just an actor, I’m dumb, I’m just a puppet, I just say what they tell me to say. And right now I don’t have a script.
Zach Woods: I think what Amanda’s trying to say is ...
Amanda Crew: Actually, I would like you to take over, Zach, if you can just explain this one.
Zach Woods: You’re on your own.
Amanda Crew: Fuck, I’m sinking!
Zach Woods: I guess I wish they’d take on, like, Robosapiens and that kind of thing.
Zach Woods: Yeah, like the stuff they have at Brookstone.
Well, that is actually a big topic, Mark Cuban’s writing about it, everyone’s writing about robots replacing jobs, AI replacing jobs, which you guys don’t really cover, you’re in ...
Thomas Middleditch: Well, I just got one of those robot vacuum cleaners. You can download an app, and then you can set a schedule, and you can name your robot vacuum cleaner. I named it Chris Harrison, the host of “The Bachelor.” He just zooms around there, and he gets about halfway through, and then gets clogged up on something, and then I have to go empty him out. He’s a trooper, bless him, he does what he does.
Kumail Nanjiani: Based on that, it’s gonna be a while before robots replace us.
Kumail Nanjiani: No?
Kumail Nanjiani: They’ll replace us?
Zach Woods: I hope your vacuum hosts “The Bachelor” next season.
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah. Even last year, I don’t know how it will end up being, but I did some short where it was like, the script was written by some AI program. It ended up sort of sounding like we were talking like predictive text on your phone, like, it sort of makes sense, but how can you even have that thought when I emit? And you’re like, “Uh, sort of. Weird.”
But maybe when the algorithm’s refined, the Writers Union of Hollywood will have to band together to prevent it.
Well, that’s where it’s going. It actually could.
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah, I mean, even in “Star Wars, they brought back deceased actors, and what are the rights? What if I don’t want that?
Kumail Nanjiani: But you are dead.
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah, but you’ve just made me say something that I didn’t.
Zach Woods: Guys, don’t do that, please, don’t replace actors, you guys here, just don’t do it, at least not for like 60 years, and then go wild.
Kumail Nanjiani: We just started getting jobs.
Thomas Middleditch: Please, stop it!
Clay, I’m sorry, you were gonna say something ...
Clay Tarver: No, just weird, the assholes about to go on strike. You don’t think they’re gonna replace us with robots?
Kumail Nanjiani: Yeah, you guys are about to go on strike.
Thomas Middleditch: And you guys are assholes.
What does that mean, Mike, explain for everyone what the F is happening in Hollywood right now?
Mike Judge: Yeah, there’s about to be a writers’ strike. Alec knows more about it than I do. One thing I’ll say about that automation though, everybody’s ... Did you read the script that they did for “Silicon Valley”? Is that the one you’re talking about?
Thomas Middleditch: No, I was talking about something else.
Mike Judge: They had an AI do a script for our show, and it was just ... It was nothing, it was incomprehensible. It was like ... I’ve been around for a while ...
Kumail Nanjiani: You know what made no sense? Because Dinesh got laid in that one, right?
Mike Judge: They’ve been saying it about animation for 20 years, that you won’t need ... When I was doing “Beavis and Butthead” they’d be like, “Oh, you’ll draw Butthead once and never have to draw him again,” and it was just a train wreck, they had a Cray Supercomputer back then, and ... I don’t know, I think it’s at least 60 years away, Zach, I think you’ll be all right for a while. But we’re all gonna live to 200 now, so ...
Yeah. It’s coming faster than you think; I think it is, I think it’s gonna replace lawyers and accountants, first, and then get to you.
Mike Judge: That’d be all right.
Kumail Nanjiani: How long are you saying?
Sooner than you think.
Kumail Nanjiani: You keep saying that, but what’s the year?
Zach Woods: Will they develop a robot that’ll be a more reassuring moderator?
No, not at all, no.
Kumail Nanjiani: This is the robot version. The real one’s sleeping at home.
Next to a pod. This is San Francisco. So, last couple of questions. I do want to get the idea of how you guys think about tech now differently, where you think it’s going, each of you. What would you like invented? How do you feel about self-driving cars? Any of those things that are happening.
Tech is almost beside the point in this show, even though it’s all about tech. It’s about these characters.
Kumail Nanjiani: Can I ask you a question about that?
Kumail Nanjiani: I thought that when the internet first came out and there was social media, I thought they made great promise of internet, and social media was gonna be, “You’re gonna be able to talk to people you would never have access to, people who think differently than you,” and what we’re finding is that, what’s happening is, people are just finding other people who agree with them and just reinforcing their niche beliefs.
Kumail Nanjiani: How do we fix that?
Kumail Nanjiani: Does he really?
Kumail Nanjiani: What’s he got?
Kumail Nanjiani: Great.
No, I think, actually you do hear from a lot more people, you just don’t like them. President Trump is using Twitter heavily to govern, at this point.
Zach Woods: I worry that there’s too ... I was talking to a friend of mine who has a daughter, she is like, I think she has Asperger’s and she’s gay, and she’s homeschooled, and she’s ... She doesn’t have a lot of access to traditional communities, because she’s a high school student, where she could be ostracized for a lot of that stuff, unfortunately, and he was saying that the internet, for her, and tech, for her, is a real tether to other people, and it’s really connective, and it makes you feel much less lonely.
But then I also was hanging out with my friend and his family, and he has a little sister who’s in college, and she just seems so ... kids seem so frightened and they’re always worried about falling behind because they’re constantly cultivating, performing their life for their peers, and their peers are performing their life for them, and it’s scary. I think it’s really scary.
The way that I feel about tech is very ambivalent, because on the one hand, it gives some people the life preserver, and then for some people it seems to lock them into this isolation tank, where they’re just looking out at other people’s achievements and feeling small by comparison. I don’t know. I feel ambivalent about it, there’s probably a more ...
Thomas Middleditch: No, I think the last 365 has all made us question, “You sure you want all that?” Just like, collection of our personal information, aggregating data, like, “Hey, I saw you clicked on that weird public shaming of someone online, do you want 40 more videos of that? Great, this will be good for you.”
Just the random stuff that gets suggested to me on YouTube just because I watched something for 10 seconds and went, “Ugh, yeah, you’re right, life is terrible.” And then they’re like, “Have more! Watch the world burn, my friend!”
The idea of that — not only YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all these things — are just silently collecting data. Anything from name, address, to what you like, dislike, click on, all that kind of stuff. It’s so Big Brother-orian; there’s a better way of putting it, but I don’t give a fuck.
Kumail Nanjiani: There are protections against ISPs selling that data they have on us and that is never gonna go away.
Zach Woods: But Tommy’s right, if you watch just 10 or 11 videos of dog fights, all of a sudden you’re getting all these weird Facebook invites.
So let me get to it, what do you want? How do you think about tech since, during the show? What do you think?
Martin Starr: Why is my opinion ...
Kumail Nanjiani: Because we all gave ours, Martin.
Martin Starr: Oh, great, all right, let’s open the conversation to everyone. I still do the same things I did before, I feel like I’ve opened up a little bit more to Twitter, but it really is just a mechanism for echoing. I don’t feel like I’m learning anything from Twitter, I’m just hearing assholes say, “Fuck you” or I’m hearing people say, “Right on, brother, fuck Trump.” And like, if the value is still in human interaction, I don’t see Twitter evolving to the point where communication is really valuable, where the dialogue is really open.
All right, so I’m gonna finish up, just talking a little bit about where you imagine you will be in 10 years. You guys?
Kumail Nanjiani: We’re all gonna be dead!
Zach Woods: I’ll be Jill Stein’s Secretary of Education.
I am so sorry.
Thomas Middleditch: I’ll be the leader of a Mad Max-style marauding gang. I’ll be on dirt bikes saying, “Give us your gas or your women.” And like, all shiny and chrome. All that stuff.
Kumail Nanjiani: You run into a rival gang, I’ll be the leader, we’ll be like, “Hey! Remember?”
Thomas Middleditch: “Hey!”
Kumail Nanjiani: “We had a show that somebody gave a shit about once!”
Thomas Middleditch: “Yeah, yeah, anyway, give me your oil, give me your women.”
Kumail Nanjiani: “All right, fair trade.”
Amanda Crew: Oh, I’d already said it.
Martin Starr: But they didn’t hear you.
Amanda Crew: I said I’d be deported back to Canada.
Martin Starr: But you’d be happy.
Amanda Crew: Yeah.
Martin Starr: See, there’s a happy ending. Don’t say “Aww,” fucking Canada’s great.
It is great, it plays a lot in “Handmaid’s Tale,” which is on another channel that’s not HBO.
Kumail Nanjiani: How many ... you watch shows!
I do, I watch.
Zach Woods: That’s supposed to be good, though.
It is, it’s fantastic, I’m interviewing the creators of it and Margaret Atwood, so I had to watch it. It’s quite good. Research, exactly.
So Mike, how do you feel that this has evolved over time? This show itself? And what you think you’ve done and what kind of message you’re giving to Silicon Valley?
I just talked to my son earlier today, and he actually loves the show. He loves TJ Miller mostly, sorry, but he does. No, he loves you all, but he really loves him, he loves his Instagram account for some reason, I’m not sure what’s on it.
Kumail Nanjiani: How old is your son?
Kumail Nanjiani: That sounds right.
Kumail Nanjiani: TJ is the funniest guy in the world, your son has amazing taste. He’s hilarious.
Apparently, it’s a lot of nipple jokes that he thinks are hysterical.
Kumail Nanjiani: Which are hysterical.
Martin Starr: Yeah, you heard some of the best ones here tonight.
I know, there were a lot of good nipple jokes today. Go ahead, what do you think you’re doing? And then I’d love to just go through some companies of Silicon Valley very quickly and get your thoughts on them, super quickly.
Mike Judge: What do I think I’m doing? Is that the question?
Yeah, what are you doing?
Kumail Nanjiani: What do you think you’re doing, Mike?
Mike Judge: “The hell do you think you’re doing?”
Kumail Nanjiani: What’s the fucking point?
Mike Judge: I’m just trying to make a little old TV show. I don’t know, what was the full question?
What do you think you’ve done for the idea of Silicon Valley? Because you’re trying to reach beyond Silicon Valley, presumably. You’re just using it as the platform.
Mike Judge: It’s funny, because whenever we’re in the tech world, we get these kind of questions of like, “Who are you trying to reach? What’s your goal with this show?” And it’s kind of, not to call myself or any of us artists, but it’s sort of an unusual question, like, I don’t think you would ask, I dunno, Willie Nelson, like “What are you trying to accomplish with this song? Who are you trying to reach?”
I see something that’s ... it’s a funny absurd world, it affects everybody, and there are a lot of funny things about it that I just didn’t see Hollywood paying attention to, and it seemed like a really fresh area to go. But I don’t think we ever approach it like, “Here’s a message we’re trying to get out.” I think it’s just like, “Here’s something funny.”
Occasionally we do kind of go, “We are making a good point about that,” but for anything like comedy to mean anything, it has to be funny first, and I think that’s the way we always approach it. We don’t go in with an agenda about it, “We’re gonna try to get this message out.” That sort of comes out of it. If it does.
Amanda Crew: But we are making the world a better place.
Mike Judge: Yeah, we’re definitely making the world a better place.
All right, we’re gonna go through, very quickly, some companies right now, anyone can pop off as they want, pop off.
Alec Berg: Very good!
I know, exactly. Alphabet.
Kumail Nanjiani: Never heard of it.
Clay Tarver: Honestly, I truly question the leadership of that company. You know, they Easter-egged to us in their formal announcement of the formation of Alphabet, and as soon as they did that, I thought, “If I owned any of that stock, I would sell it immediately and short it all,” because what the fuck is going on over there that they would do that?
Mike Judge: Good for us, though.
Good for you. Apple.
Kumail Nanjiani: Love it, give us products. I need a new MacBook, I’ve had it for ...
Do you have the ear pods?
Martin Starr: They’re not right here right now, Kumail.
Kumail Nanjiani: It’s okay, there’s a video and we can watch it on a great platform like iPhone or iPad.
Amanda Crew: We got Yahoodies today, so yahoo!
You visited Yahoo today?
Amanda Crew: No, Yahoo Finance came to visit us.
Kumail Nanjiani: Are they changing their name? Is this true?
Yes, they’re called Oath.
Alec Berg: Is that real?
Alec Berg: That’s really the name?
Kumail Nanjiani: So we got Yahoo hoodies that are useless.
Amanda Crew: Vintage.
No, they might keep the Yahoo name, but the overall company is not AOL, it’s not Yahoo, it’s now Oath. Many people call it “Oaf,” but ... Yeah, it’s called Oath, I don’t know why, because they’re keeping it to you, presumably. You’re impressed, I can tell. Airbnb.
Zach Woods: Oh, fuck yeah!
Kumail Nanjiani: I’m sorry, you weren’t on mic, could you repeat that?
Zach Woods: Oh, fuck yeah. I don’t even know why I did that.
Thomas Middleditch: “That’s my jam right there!”
All right, Snapchat. Snapchat.
Amanda Crew: Thomas loves the snap, just for the filters, though, and then you export it.
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah, I Snapchat, I use their filters and just put it on my Instagram.
Thomas Middleditch: Well, when Snapchat came out, I remember my friends being like, “You gotta get on Snapchat,” I was like, “You tell me I gotta build a whole nother follower base for another fucking thing? No, no, screw it, it’s done, I’m out.” Same with Vine, all that stuff, it’s like, “I gotta start again?”
Kumail Nanjiani: I’m about to get started on Vine very soon.
Thomas Middleditch: But yeah, no, I just sort of ... I love the filters because they make all the weird voices, I do have a weird face to go along with them, so yeah.
Do you have Spectacles?
Thomas Middleditch: Not normally.
No, I mean Snapchat Spectacles.
Thomas Middleditch: Most likely, I’m not sure. Is that a name of a filter?
Kumail Nanjiani: They’re actual glasses you wear that have a camera on them.
Yes, they do.
Kumail Nanjiani: We just saw them today, you saw them today.
Thomas Middleditch: No, I did not. What is it? Explain to me.
Kumail Nanjiani: She showed them to us. Oh, just to us, so what do they do? Oh, they ... You put it on, and they’re glasses with a camera.
Thomas Middleditch: Jesus.
Yeah, we’ll get you some.
Thomas Middleditch: Honestly, I just got sad. That’s a bummer.
We’ll get you some.
Thomas Middleditch: Don’t get me any.
Okay, but we will.
Thomas Middleditch: Okay.
Immediately. I’ll get them over here for you.
Thomas Middleditch: Oh no.
Okay, last two: Microsoft.
Thomas Middleditch: I like Windows, I’ll say it, I like it. Because they let me play my PC games.
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah. My flight simulators, you all know all about those, don’t you?
Zach Woods: Yeah, I know about them.
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah.
Okay, put them on. [Hands him Spectacles]
Thomas Middleditch: Thank you so much.
All right, let’s see. Yeah, it’s on, it was just on.
Thomas Middleditch: That’s a bummer, man.
Kumail Nanjiani: It’s gonna go right to her Snapchat if you turn it on and put it on.
Zach Woods: But what does this have to do with Airbnb?
Thomas Middleditch: So it records your life and streams your life and all that kind of stuff?
Thomas Middleditch: It’s just a bummer, man.
Zach Woods: That’s a creep. I didn’t know an object could be a creep, but this is a creep. It’s like, making a weird little “Ew.”
Thomas Middleditch: “Just to let you know, you’re being surveilled.”
You guys are like a pair of monkeys playing with something, it’s unbelievable.
Zach Woods: Well, you shouldn’t have given us the expensive glasses.
The toy. Yeah, they’re not that expensive.
Kumail Nanjiani: How much are they?
I don’t know, 90 bucks? 100 or something like that.
Kumail Nanjiani: 130?
No, they’re not that much. They give them away to celebrities, I’m sure you can get some.
Thomas Middleditch: Well, you know, there’s been plenty of people who have made some substantial careers with casting their life. It’s clearly, I thought you did it and it landed because that’s a big thing on mine. I don’t know, maybe I’m just being, oh god, I guess now I’m the old guy because I’m like, “I don’t get it.”
Because plenty of young people totally get it, they love all that stuff, that YouTube culture of it all, of just like, “Hey guys!” And the, “This is what I’m up to today!” And the Periscoping and the Instagram Live and all that, so maybe it’s just ...
You do sound like an angry old man, shaking his fist at the internet.
Thomas Middleditch: So maybe it’s just me not getting it.
That’s all right, my 15-year-old doesn’t like them, either.
Zach Woods: You can also invest in classic American companies, Blackwater, Halliburton ... It doesn’t all have to be tech. Private prisons ...
Thomas Middleditch: Dakota XL.
Zach Woods: Dakota XL, so what’s wrong with tradition?
Kumail Nanjiani: Smith and Wesson.
All right, last question: Uber? Thoughts?
Zach Woods: I was in an Uber ... oh, you got it, Clay?
Clay Tarver: Undeniable. That we saw, what was his name, Adrian Grenier?
Zach Woods: Grenie.
Clay Tarver: Grenie?
Zach Woods: Is it Grenier or Grenie?
Clay Tarver: We were a little punchy in the writer’s room, and apparently he was asked about all the companies, and the first one, just like this, and said, “Uber,” he was like, “Undeniable.” I don’t know why, we had lost it, but that was the running joke at the writers’ room that if anything was good it was undeniable.
Zach Woods: I was in an Uber fairly recently, and it was an old guy driving, and he had horrible EDM on, and I think he thought, “This guy’s young so he’ll like this,” so he turned it on, and I’m sure he hated it, and I hated it, and we just both quietly hated EDM for a half hour together, and that is Uber.
Clay Tarver: Undeniable.
Thomas Middleditch: I think the premise of Uber, Lyft, I guess all that stuff, to me it’s not a bad thing to essentially say, “Hey, you have a car, put it to use and pick people up,” as long as it’s safe and everybody’s verified, that’s all great.
I think what’s happened specific with Uber is, I guess, politics have been involved, and some habits I guess have been involved?
Yeah. Which are familiar to you from Hollywood.
Thomas Middleditch: Yeah, exactly. We’ve said it a bunch of times, the weird parallels from Hollywood to this world are sometimes startling, but yeah, so I mean, I don’t necessarily have a problem with Uber, but there’s just been some practices, I guess, that make everybody go, “Hey, what the heck? What’s going on, dude?”
I like you starting in the Uber, though. Did you like driving the Uber?
Thomas Middleditch: Oh, yeah. By “driving,” I was stationary in a studio lot with a green screen, but yeah. Actually, we had a robust green screen. It was projecting. It was like, “It’s new, it’s tech.”
All right, let’s finish up. Mike, what can we expect from this season? Anything else you can add?
Mike Judge: Let’s see, there’s sex and it’s not with horses this time. There’s a little bit of violence. What can we say, really? You’ve seen the trailer. You kind of saw the setup for this season, so I don’t know, I never know how to answer this, what we can say or can’t say.
Who are you bringing back? Who else are you bringing back, besides Russ Hanneman? I’d like a show just of him talking.
Mike Judge: Haley Joel Osment, who plays this character, Keenan Feldsbar. Haley Joel Osment, when he was a kid, was in “The Sixth Sense,” and he looks very different now. Still an amazing actor.
Zach Woods: I wish he looked exactly like he used to.
Anyway, all right. Anything else? About how you guys feel about this season? Finish up?
Thomas Middleditch: I’ve been saying — because today was kind of a press day, so you end up saying the same thing over and over again — I’ve been saying today that up until now it feels like the conflict has been coming from the outside in to these guys and ladies, this group, and they’re just having to navigate this obstacle course.
But I think as you see, the premise of this season is now the conflict’s kind of coming from within, and there’s a bit of fallout from what just happened, even though it sort of looks like it’s resolved now, there’s all kinds of other stuff to come. I would say, the struggles are within the group more this time around.
Kumail Nanjiani: And I want to say, we really had to talk Mike into having sex with not horses.
Kumail Nanjiani: Because we were like, “We should have sex in the show,” and Mike was like, “But the horses are so expensive,” and we were like, “It could be people sex,” and Mike was like, “Nobody wants to see that.”
Thomas Middleditch: And what was weird, too, is when we first got to ... remember the first table read? And we were like, “Oh, this is just 34 pages of horse-sex.”
Kumail Nanjiani: “I’m not into this at all.”
Zach Woods: It’s just like YouTube, if you watch one horse-sex video, it just keeps coming. But can I say one thing? I feel a little self conscious about something, where just like ... When you ask these questions, we try to answer them, but I hope it doesn’t sound holier than thou or sanctimonious, because it’s like, we’re from Hollywood, which God knows is as vacuous as any place on earth, right?
Zach Woods: And we are included in the industry, so I hope it doesn’t ... I wanted to make an addendum that I hope it doesn’t sound ...
Kumail Nanjiani: No, I think you guys contribute so much. Specifically, Apple has done so much, and MacBook Air is a great product. No, I don’t have one, good question.
Do you have the ear pods? You also need the ear pods, the air pods.
Kumail Nanjiani: Air pods? I’ll take whatever they got.
Thomas Middleditch: Also, a quick shout-out to Nvidia, just whenever those graphics cards are in, I’ll be all right with that.
Kumail Nanjiani: Just, like, a quick shout-out to a new floor in my house, that would be ...
Last question, I’d be remiss not to ask this. Are there going to be more women on the show, Mike? And you’re not responsible for the crap that is Silicon Valley in terms of gender issues, but why? This is it. No, there’s two.
Mike Judge: I’m the only one that can answer this question, right? There are more this season. Without giving away too much, there’s three coders that I can think of off the top of my head, one kind of a big part that goes throughout the season.
A big part with more than one line? Or more than one scene?
Mike Judge: More than one episode, more than one line ... She has a whole arc.
Thomas Middleditch: And then at the end of the scene she takes her top off, does a little dance, very nice.
Zach Woods: She starts to say a lot of lines that then the men finish.
Mike Judge: Then the men straighten it all out. Just kidding.
On that note, not really. Thank you you guys so much, that was a really great, those were tremendous shows. I thought they were poignant and funny and the best season you guys have had. Thank you so much.
Mike Judge: Thank you.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.