As the resident system architect on HBO’s Silicon Valley (available to stream anytime on HBO Now), Bertram Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) has all the disinterested apathy you’d come to expect from a guy who has spent his life in front of a computer writing code. As a gruff, outspoken nihilist, to say he has an ability to verbally take down anyone that crosses paths with him with a burst of knee buckling cynicism would be nothing short of an understatement.
Sure, he has been an invaluable member of the team and was essential to the success of their company, Pied Piper, but no one can cut straight through to someone’s soul like Gilfoyle can. For all those moments when you feel like you’ve gotta ruin a rival’s day, let these quotes, delivered in Gilfoyle’s scathing monotone, serve as your inspiration.
“It’s not magic, it’s talent and sweat. People like me ensure your packets get delivered unsniffed. So what do I do? I make sure that one bad config on one key component doesn’t bankrupt the entire f*cking company. That’s what the f*ck I do.”
While organizing Pied Piper’s formal business plan, both Gilfoyle and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) have to explain exactly what they do in order to justify their position in the burgeoning company. While they both talk up their importance, Gilfoyle describes his ability to code with a kind of desperate urgency, making himself out to be all that’s holding back the complete destruction of society.
Clearly, Gilfoyle’s antagonistic worldview follows him everywhere — even during an informal employment evaluation. While there’s no shame in self-promotion, you may want to hold back a bit on the doomsday scenarios, at least until you’ve got the job locked down.
“People like to lie, Richard. It’s a war of all against all. The history of humanity is a book written in blood. We’re all just animals in a pit.”
Gilfoyle isn’t known to mince words, and when Richard (Thomas Middleditch) notices that Monica (Amanda Crew) may have lied about using his software, Richard starts to wonder why she’d do such a thing. It comes as no surprise that Gilfoyle has a pretty clear answer in mind, one that describes his wholly pessimistic view about what he sees as an irredeemable human race.
For those special moments when you need to make a point about the dangers of trusting people while also condemning all of humanity, do recall that we are all just “animals in a pit.”
“At least it didn’t happen in a public and brutally embarrassing way.”
Timing is everything. Richard and the Pied Piper realize that with cruel clarity when the latest version of their compression software gets stuck in the midst of a presentation that is being live-streamed to the whole of the tech world. But while Erlich (T.J. Miller) concedes defeat and urges everyone to embrace Pied Piper’s last moment in the sun, Gilfoyle recognizes that, with a little bit of effort and a well-timed quip, there’s always a way add a little insult to injury and make a mortifying moment even worse.
“Makes me feel like I’ve died and gone to hell.”
As an avowed Satanist, a remark like this is simply Gilfoyle speaking positively for once — at least on the surface. In reality, Gilfoyle is simply feeding off the shock he manages to get out of people. In this case, while making smalltalk with some fellow developers, Gilfoyle can’t help but make them squirm a little, and does so in a way that’s almost like a reflex.
While there’s nothing stopping you from exaggerating (or outright lying) to darken someone’s day by letting your cynicism shine through, sometimes the most effective method is just simply being yourself.
“I’m sure you can find your way out with one of your two faces.”
Almost no one likes to give bad news, and when Monica is tasked with telling the Pied Piper gang that their funding has been pulled thanks to a frivolous lawsuit, the team doesn’t take it very well. While most of the guys let out a heavy sigh before leaving the room, Gilfoyle manages to work in one last scathing remark that attacks Monica’s overall integrity. Because, to Gilfoyle, it’s not just enough that someone feels bad on their own, he needs to engineer something that will stick with them for quite awhile afterward.
“I’m effectively leveraging your misery. I’m like the Warren Buffet of f*cking with you.”
There’s much more to Gilfoyle than the occasional snark outburst. When Dinesh’s cousin gets dangerously close to funding his Kickstarter, Dinesh starts to really worry about the $5,000 he pledged back when he was certain the campaign would fall short of its goal, meaning his money would be returned to him. In response, Gilfoyle decides that spending a few hundred dollars just to cost Dinesh thousands is a wholly worthwhile endeavor.
Sometimes a run-of-the-mill insult or glib observation isn’t quite enough. In those cases, an impulsive, yet calculated risk assessment, backed by a little of your own money, will do more than any random insult you could think of. The only thing left to consider is whether donating to a campaign that’ll launch another useless app will be worth the misery you’ve enjoyed causing.
“I think we should dig our own well and build our own generator. I also think we should store years worth of food and ammunition in a blast cellar. But we don’t. So good luck when the sh*t hits the fan.”
If there’s one surefire way to get under Gilfoyle’s skin, it’s to doubt his ability. When Pied Piper is blacklisted by every web space in town, Gilfoyle suggests building their own servers in the garage as a last-ditch effort to try and get their software online. Jared (Zach Woods) dismisses the idea as overkill, calling it impractical, dangerous, and almost impossible to achieve. Gilfoyle’s response not only reveals his cynical determination but also his survivalist leanings.
Sometimes, answering a simple question isn’t enough. For those moments when you need to bring the pending apocalypse into the fold, Bertram Gilfoyle is the only guy worth looking up to.