The end of Comedy Central's most recent Pulp Comics episode (featuring Harland Williams) features the sound of a flushing toilet which sums up, far more succinctly than we ever could, our feelings for this tepid, decidedly unfunny offering.
The premise seems, at first glance, promising. Augment a comedian's act with original short films related to their rantings---hilarious! Right? Wrong.
Harland William's particular schtick consisted of exposing the "truths" that the government doesn't want us to know, i.e.; "Hardware and gardening stores sell manure for $12 a bag. The government doesn't want you to know that if you'd ask reaaalll nice, your friends would probably take a crap on your lawn for free."
Okay, that one was kind of cute. But, trust us, it was all downhill from there. The video shorts turned out to be shots of Williams, as a low-level government employee, walking down the street, frantically scribbling in a notebook. None of them stood on their own, as we had hoped, and proved far more distracting than entertaining.
Williams also ends each joke with his tagline --- "Hey, now people, now, hey?" or "Come on, now, there, hey?" --- the inflection of which reminds us of nothing so much as Jodie Foster's disastrous turn in Nell.("No tae-tae chichee mae, hey?")
The show's success rests solely on the shoulders of the featured performer. As such, we have to wonder about Comedy Central's choices. Previously, they have opted to shine the spotlight on such comedic giants as Caroline Rhea (one of the wacky aunts from Sabrina) and Jim Breuer (of SNL fame---you know, he plays the---no, wait, his character was---wait, don't tell us…). For his part, Harland Williams has been part of such fine films as Down Periscope, Dumb and Dumber and Superstar.
Houston, we have a problem.
Come on! Surely there is someone out there with the spark, the effervescence, the je ne sais quoi to NOT bite. Check Paul Reubens. We suspect he may have some free time.
Still, we feel bad, panning the performers so completely. Although the entire show is presented as the comedian's own brain child, we don't actually know how much control they have over the evening's entertainment. Maybe the video clips have less to do with the performer's own brand of humor, than a few late-night staff writer meetings and a supply cabinet full of Elmer's Glue. It's possible.
And shouldn't the network bear some responsibility for putting the drivel on the air, in the first place? We mean, didn't someone notice a total absence of humor? Oh, sure, the studio audience laughed, but then, we suspect they had the benefit of copious amounts of alcohol to dull the pain. We imagine the producers screening the episode, scratching their heads and double checking Williams' resume---"Well, I don't get it, but it says right here, 'Comedian'. Let's roll it!"
Let's not, hey?