Television

TV trend of 2012 – the fake talk show

One of my favorite sayings is, “Once is an anomaly, twice is a coincidence, three times is a sub-genre.” Within the past few months, I have seen three new series that go the fake interview format. On one hand, I am enthused to see this sub-genre take off again. In fact, one of my favorite shows of all time is from 1980’s New Jersey public television, “The Uncle Floyd Show.” It was one of the shows that heavily influenced my sense of humor. And as a medium, the fake talk show has so much potential to create such memorable characters, and parody, spoof, mock so many different targets that when done right, it can be comedic gold. (Take for example “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” It is not a talk show, but it is similar in styles of aesthetic, humor, and most importantly – lack of budget. It is the pinnacle of making so much with so little.) But while I enjoy this mini-renaissance, the flip side is the over saturation of a comedic style which is very much an acquired taste.

The first show is adult swim’s “The Eric Andre Show.” The show is from Abso Lutlely Productions, which is the same company that brought us “Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” And it shows. Andre is less a talk show host and more a stuntman, since he spends most of his time crashing through his stage, and his very flimsy desk. It pulls off the rare combo of being manic and low-key at the same time. Since it is an AS show, the episode are only 15 minutes long, and believe me, it does not need to be any longer. It is the most original of the three listed here, but that also makes it the most riskiest. I would say your mileage will vary, but since YMMV had become a trope almost a decade ago, I try to avoid using that phrase. I do find it interesting that TEAS and “Loiter Squad” are part of the latest AS lineup. I mean, it does make sense for the network to try to cater to the Boondocks fanbase, but these two shows look like they were tailor-made for MTV, but were rejected because MTV has hardly ever targeted the urban demographic.

The second show is IFC’s “Comedy Bang! Bang!” It is based on the podcast of the same name. Hosted by Scott Aukerman and Reggie Watts, the show is more in the style of an improv, than a talk show. (Which happens to pair well with the IFC show that follows it, the improv game show “Bunk”.) Since these guys are professional comedians, this show is the most polished by far. In fact, it is too good for the IFC network. It needs to have more exposure, such as perhaps HBO or Showtime. The secret the CB!B!, and improv in general, is chemistry. And Aukerman & Watts have it with themselves, and their guests. However, the downside to improv comedy is that improv, by its very nature, is experimental. Aukerman was trained in the Upright Citizens Brigade style. This means that CB!B! is not comedy in the stand-up manner. Nor is it comedy in the sit-com approach. Despite its credentials, I’m not sure how long this TV show will last. The good news is that this format is perfect for podcasting, and I’m sure the podcast will keep going strong for the foreseeable future.

Okay, I’ll confess: the third show is not a television show. It is an internet show, courtesy of Nerdist. It is a fake interview show called “Face to Face with ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.” The fake interview style was last seen in “Space Ghost Coast to Coast.” The difference is that Face to Face uses pre-existing interviews, and inserts Al into the footage. This format is hardly original. In fact, it is almost as old as the song parody. What it lacks in innovation, it makes up for in execution. The questions that Al “asks” are questions I wish real interviewers would ask celebrities. Full disclosure: I’ve been a “Weird Al” fan since “My Bologna” and “Eat It.” He fits the definition of the “Adorkable” archetype, partially due to the fact that he is self-aware of his public persona. “Face to Face” is the shortest of the three shows; his segments, which feature two interviews, clock in less than ten minutes. There are many reasons to follow/bookmark/subscribe to the Nerdist site, and Face to Face is one of them. And since it is a YouTube series, and not a television series, this has the best chance out outlast “The Eric Andre Show” and “Comedy Bang! Bang!” Hopefully, one day, “Weird Al” will get a real, fake-talk show of his own.

(Sorry for all of the quotation marks in this post. I’ll try to cut down on them in the future.)

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