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Saturday, Apr 26, 2014

Showbiz

Nerds and geeks rule

The Straits Times | Tay Yek Keak | Saturday, Apr 26, 2014

Canadian actor Thomas Middleditch (left) as the main dork in Silicon Valley, with Josh Brener, who plays his pal.

When a pack of guys hang out together, it is always very funny and curiously enlightening in an overgrown kid sense.

For the longest time, I had wondered why nobody had made a spoof series about computer nerds crashing together to come up with the next big-insane- dollar idea.

You know, like the origin of Facebook made into The Office: Freaks, Geeks And Billionaire Losers Version.

"They always travel in groups of five, these programmers," goes the wickedly hilarious observation in Silicon Valley.

"There's always a tall, skinny white guy; short, skinny Asian guy; fat guy with a ponytail; some guy with crazy facial hair; and then an East Indian guy."

These creatures dwell in Silicon Valley, co-created by Mike Judge (Beavis And Butt-head and King Of The Hill).

This is HBO's Entourage but with Total Squares collecting all those comical, stereotypical impressions you have of how the tech geniuses of today would be the monumental misfits of society if they had not struck a goldmine with one game-changing billion-dollar innovation.

The main dork is Richard Hendricks, played by Canadian actor Thomas Middleditch, who is so good in the role you would buy a broken laptop from him.

Bunking with his pals in a shabby start-up incubator house of Steve Jobs-wannabes, he is the introverted, socially iffy, good-hearted coder who unwittingly develops a "compressed algorithm" - a Holy Grail way to compress giant files in impossible split seconds.

It means that from out of nowhere, the ugly duckling has two overly keen suitors - the devious big boss of Hooli, Gavin Belson (Big Love's Matt Ross) and a nicer angel-investor, Peter Gregory (the late Christopher Evan Welch), a nutty advocate of achieving ultimate, self- fulfilling success by dropping out of spirit-killing school like Bill Gates did.

The way these two rich freaks and the rest of the geeks are depicted is so funny it can only be due to naughty insider observations.

"I didn't shake a woman's hand until I was 17 years old," admits one tech geek who looks like "somebody starved a virgin to death".

In fact, Judge once worked in a Silicon Valley start-up and noticed that the people gathering there were "true believers in something and I don't know what it was".

So the best jokes are what seem to be painfully accurate descriptions of the denizens of weirdo tech culture.

Middleditch's Hendricks is one classic mumbly-mouthed and googily-eyed softie-smartie version of Jesse Eisenberg's blowhard Mark Zuckerberg in 2010's The Social Network.

His incubator-house owner-friend, Erlich Bachmann (She's Out Of My League's T.J. Miller), is a stoner-slacker of cracking comedic proportions.

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