Nine Comedy Opinions

1. The funniest new comedy show on TV is Broad City on Comedy Central.

I’ll admit I was initially suspicious of this show: New York City, two female leads about a decade younger than me, and directed by the sometimes shrill Amy Poehler. It’s clearly not aimed at my demographic. But holy smokes, “Broad City” is like a less pretentious, far funnier, more realistic (I’m guessing) version of HBO’s “Girls,” which despite Leah Dunham’s charm, is unwatchable.

The legend of “Broad City”—one I haven’t been able to substantiate—is that it was created by Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson when they weren’t cast in a UCB sketch troupe. Instead of moping, they went a created a web series, which eventually got noticed by some bigwigs, including eventual Executive Producer Poehler.

On top of being just fucking funny, the show, only ten episodes in, is remarkably sure of itself. It contains countless moments of visual artistry, such as this opening to episode nine:

2. Comedy Central is basically killing it with comedy these days: Broad City is genius. Review (with improv ubermensch Andy Daly) had the funniest scene I’ve seen in months in “Episode 4: Best Friend, Space.” The Kroll Show is hilarious and complex. Even Inside Amy Schumer, which can sometimes indulge its sketches too much, has managed to find a solid groove in its second season.

3. On the Late Night TV front, things are bit amiss. For starters, Late Night with Seth Meyers is a slow disaster. Meyers is a funny comedy writer, but a relatively charmless delivery mechanism for comedy. He says almost everything with a wry irony—everything. There’s not much sincerity in Meyer’s comedic persona; his jokes seem detached and meaningless. And unfunny; his jokes are unfunny. Unfunny and predictable. Forty episodes in and I’m ready to declare that Late Night with Seth Meyers is dead on the table; we’re just waiting for the surgeon to announce the time of death.

indefenseof-latenight-sethmeyers-650

“Late Night Remembrances of SNL with Seth Meyers of Kappa Delta Tau”

But Meyers’ greatest sin is making his entire show one big Saturday Night Live inside joke. He references SNL constantly—every show includes at least one shout-out to his former writing gig. He misses SNL. He should go back to it, because none of us is impressed. We don’t want to hear about some adorable thing Horatio Sanz did in 2006. We don’t need every other guest to tell the story of when they hosted SNL. We simply do not care that Wednesday is the day the whole cast does the table read.

Tell some fucking jokes, buddy. And don’t be so frat boy about it.

The best thing about Meyers’ show is Fred Armisen as the band leader. Never before in this history of talk shows has the sidekick been much, much funnier than the host. Which reminds me…

4. Portlandia just wrapped up its latest season. Can we smother this show in its sleep? Can we find a new outlet for Armisen and Brownstein—two supreme talents who deserve something funnier and broader than Portland, Oregon, as their back drop?

5. Back to Late Night TV: Jimmy Fallon, whose unabashed optimism is hard to resist, has almost made the full transformation into a skinnier Jay Leno. Now that he hosts The Tonight Show, Fallon is even more milquetoast.

His monologue is ten solid minutes of predictable jokes. Rob Ford is fat and does crack? Ya don’t say?! Donald Sterling is racist? Outrageous! For chrissakes, he still does Anthony Weiner jokes. It is just the most middle-of-the-country, fat-change-up-over-the-plate comedy. No risk, nothing edgy, nothing even remotely controversial. Plus, Fallon is the second worst interviewer on TV—-right behind Jon Stewart.

6. Want some great stand-up comedy you probably don’t know about. Go watch these two specials on Netflix:

Tom Segura - "Completely Normal"

Tom Segura – “Completely Normal”

 

Morgan Murphy - "Irish Goodbye"

Morgan Murphy – “Irish Goodbye”

7. Then there’s Colbert, whose Colbert Show persona is still laugh-aloud funny all these years later. He’s going to take over for Letterman next year. I hope for the best, but I fear the worst: a complete network castration of Colbert’s funny bone. For starters, I’m not sure how funny Colbert will be when he’s not playing his ultra right-wing character.

Is the real Colbert still any good? I have my doubts. But even if IRL Colbert can be funny, the fact he’ll be on at 10:30 on CBS suggests he probably won’t be allowed to be. Letterman stopped being experimental with his subversiveness years ago, and besides, he earned the right after 30 years of hosting. Colbert won’t enjoy the same comedic latitude Letterman has. I’m nervous. And mostly, I’m said the Colbert Show is going away.

8. I know I’m supposed to think Community is genius. Perhaps insulting this show ruins my comedy credentials. And I’m sure that as a piece of narrative construction, it will make for great reading in college screenwriting courses. But except for some bits by Jim Rash as the Dean, this show doesn’t make me laugh. I find the characters to be, by and large, charmless and smug. I suspect I’m not alone in my distaste for Community, but for fear of backlash, most folks won’t speak ill of it publicly. I’ll be the Norma Rae of this particular revolution. If I must, if I must…

9. Meanwhile, let’s go ahead and euthanize Parks & Recreation. The humane thing to do with this show, which stopped being funny last season, is to smother it and make room for the next Broad City.

2 Comments

  1. Human Being on May 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Much like Arrested Development, Community allienates those who don’t watch every episode. There are always multiple levels occurring on that show, and repeat viewings make it that much better. Without the context it comes across as smug and closed off, do the work, watch the series, and you will fall in love.

    No love for Rick and Morty?

    • Andrew on May 3, 2014 at 3:22 pm

      You’re right, and someday I will undertake to watch all of the “Community” episodes quickly. I’ve seen them all, just not in binge fashion.

      Who’re Rick and Morty?

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