Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What's So Funny?

Years ago, when Billy Crystal was a movie star, he wondered how many more films he'd be allowed to make.  He was talking about age, but he forgot about popularity. Now that he's not quite the box office attraction he used to be, he's back to where he started, in television, starring, with Josh Gad, in the highly-promoted FX comedy series The Comedians.  Both leads are talented and have done good work, but you wouldn't know that from the pilot.

The concept is as simple as it is tired--Billy Crystal and Josh Gad play two guys working on a sketch show.  These guys are names "Billy Crystal" and "Josh Gad" and the show we're watching is an alleged documentary about the making of the show.  This is based on a Swedish series, but the concept has been done elsewhere.  Even more done is the lazy documentary format.  Still, you're hoping there might be some life in the form yet.

There isn't.  At least not on The Comedians.  Crystal and Gad's characters are both jerks, but not in a particularly funny way.  And, unlike other fake documentary shows, they're playing versions of themselves (though I assume they're not too much like these characters--at least I hope not) so there's less separation to allow them to create something truly fresh.

The pilot is about how the sketch show came about, and Crystal and Gad outdo themselves in being shortsighted and narcissistic.  Perhaps the show will move beyond the shaky start and find a groove.  The question is will the audience still be around to see that happen.


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