If you are the older colleague of a millennial or “snake person,” that colleague may assume you enjoy listening to your phonograph, collecting and organizing stamps, and being wheeled into a sunny spot.
The generational gap in the workplace is real, and it is widening. It’s something we’ve discussed here at Quartz: In 2014, we published a Slack conversation in which Quartz writers and editors over the age of 30 were incredulous when we under-30 employees explained how we share financial information on payment app Venmo.
Silicon Valley, HBO’s comedy satirizing the tech industry, hyperbolizes this divide. In the current season, Richard Hendricks (played by Thomas Middleditch, age 34) is ousted as CEO of his own company, Pied Piper, and replaced by Jack Barker (played by Stephen Tobolowsky, age 64). To say that Barker does not entirely see eye-to-eye with Hendricks and several of the other younger employees is an understatement.
Last week, HBO released over four minutes of outtakes of Erlich Bachman, the bumptious jokester entrepreneur and Pied Piper board member (played by T.J. Miller, age 34), improvising dozens of ageist insults at Barker—only a few of which actually made it into the episode (video). Watch below:
“If you saw the episode and you say, ‘There’s a lot of them!’, the script had probably twice as many,” Silicon Valley executive producer Mike Judge told Entertainment Weekly. “And then T.J. came in with, oh my God, so many. That’s where T.J. lives, in those kind of things, and he’s so good at it.”
The outtakes are a funny ode to the workplace generational divide, but they’re also a fascinating look at how comedies like Silicon Valley are made. No doubt that some of the insults were written in advance, but many appear to be improvised by Miller on the spot. The show filmed all of them, and later picked out the best ones during the editing process, and put those into the episode that aired on HBO.
So, to all employees roughly older than 34 who feel culturally inharmonious with your younger colleagues—next time there’s a work dinner outing, don’t order the deviled eggs, lest you be labeled as “an old.”