An Oral History Of That Ultra-Sophisticated ‘Silicon Valley’ Dick Joke

As fans of the show can attest, Silicon Valley ended its first season (now available on Blu-ray) with the greatest dick joke in TV history. Not only was the whole elaborate thing brilliantly hysterical, but it was also mathematically sound thanks to the show’s technical advisers.

To recap how the show got to this point: the finale brought us to TechCrunch Disrupt, where the Pied Piper team was poised to present their impressive compression algorithm, but they were quickly scooped by the ever-powerful Gavin Belson, who presented a compression speed (coined on the show as the Weissman Score) equal to the one Pied Piper was set to present. Belson warns the audience, “Anyone who tells you their platform is faster than ours better have good lawyers.” Erlich (T.J. Miller) then encourages the deflated team to not give up, declaring, “We’re going to win, even if I have to go into the auditorium and personally jerk off every guy in the audience.”

Retreating to their hotel room, the boys of course devise equations on how to most efficiently jerk off all the men in the audience, in what was regarded as Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency. (Following the episode one of the show’s research consultants released a written study that goes into greater detail on the math involved in this highly researched joke.) Through their rigorous calculations, Richard reaches an epiphany. The answer is in middle-out, of course. He goes on to create the highest Weissman Score ever.

I spoke with show creator Mike Judge; writer/director Alec Berg; associate producer Jonathan Dotan; actors T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, and Zach Woods; Stanford researcher Tsachy Weissman; and a show consultant who asked to remain anonymous over fears that his primary employer would frown upon him playing a part in the creation of the greatest dick joke ever told on television.

Killed at the first table read

HBO was really happy. It’s almost the opposite of a regular network.

KUMAIL NANJIANI (Dinesh): When I first read that joke — we did a table read for it — and right there, it was awesome. It did really well at the table read. The HBO execs were there, and it just felt like something pretty special and something I hadn’t seen before.

MIKE JUDGE (Creator/Executive Producer): We wanted to have a moment like in A Beautiful Mind, where there’s this epiphany based on a real life thing, which is something that’s more silly, and it wound up being a dick joke.

ZACH WOODS (Jared Dunn): I immediately wrote a letter to HBO because my feeling is that there are things to be joked about and things not to be joked about. And I think sex — and dicks in particular — are not a joking matter. So, I protested pretty aggressively. But they insisted that I participated […] No, that’s not true! That’s not true! I’d be the biggest asshole. I loved it.

JUDGE: HBO was really happy. It’s almost the opposite of a regular network. Here, we don’t have any nudity, any love scenes. Finally, at least, there’s a long dick joke. It was almost this concern that we’re not nasty enough in the show to make it an edgy pay cable show.