July 8th, 2011, 03:22 PM
Even if you’re scared of clowns you should still watch this show, Look at all those funny people!
In case you weren’t aware, it is a very good time to be a fan of fiercely original TV comedy. Sure, our sitcom favorites like Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock and Community are gone, but the summer, the season in which re-runs rule and networks don’t expect huge ratings, is the place where some of the most creative comedy gets it’s start.
There is of course Louie, which Dan wrote about last week and is still as hilarious as ever. With one season under his belt, Louis CK seems to be pushing the envelope even more about how a TV “comedy” has to be defined. Louis’ always sharp (and usually offensive) stand-up routines are sprinkled between vignettes about a single comedian father’s life, which range from funny and awkward all the way to poignant and touching.Louis is proving that a show doesn’t need a room full of trained writers coming up with rapid-fire jokes to fill every second of air-time. As long as someone as profoundly awesome as Louis CK is in charge just exploring what goes on in his life and in his head is enough.
On a very different end of the comedy spectrum is Jon Benjamin Has a Van, a new sketch comedy show on Comedy Central. Though Jon Benjamin’s name may be new to the non-comedy-nerds out there, you’ll know his voice from Archer, Bob’s Burgers and countless other animated projects. Now it’s his turn in front of the camera, and he has taken the opportunity and ran with it, crafting one of the most brilliantly commuted, absurd shows around. Set up as a fake news show, each episode mixes interactions with real people (such as a parody of Cash Cab called Cash Stall, set inside a men’s bathroom with some very unwilling volunteers) and a long form silly sketch (such as an expose on Little Little Italy, a miniature Little Italy inside a building in Little Italy, which turns into a small-scale mafia war). In their most genius gag to date (and something I still don’t know how Comedy Central approved) their news crew sound man was kidnapped, leaving over half of the show dead silent. Surely some were confused and adjusted their TV, and surely some were just annoyed by the concept, but I thought it was one of the best executed experimental jokes on TV since the joyfully antagonistic Wonder Showzen got canceled.
And finally there’s the breakthrough hit of Adult Swim: Childrens’ Hospital. Essentially a parody or hospital romance shows like Grey’s Anatomy, but set inside a childrens’ hospital, the show has quickly morphed into something much larger and more hilarious, becoming a must-watch for comedy fans and a must-guest star for anyone who wants to be considered hip in the comedy world. Although Rob Corddry’s creepy hospital clown makeup covered face (designed to look like that worn by John Wayne Gacey) has become the symbol of the show, and he did create it, it is actually an ensemble cast with some of the best of sketch comedy (The State’s Ken Marino, Human Giant’s Rob Huebel) and some sitcom legends (Happy Days‘ Henry Winkler, Will & Grace’s Megan Mullally) interacting in new and fantastic ways. Plus it’s only 11 minutes long! Come on, even you have 11 minutes to spare. Give it a shot!