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Mr. Show with Bob and David? More Like Bob and David's Flying Circus! - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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May 30th, 2011


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10:25 pm - Mr. Show with Bob and David? More Like Bob and David's Flying Circus!
For Christmas, Angelo sent me the first two seasons of Mr. Show, which I had heard of but never really considered checking out. But now I had DVDs right in front of me! It was probably a funny show or something! Miiiiight as well watch it. And get hooked on it, and buy the other two seasons, and somehow take five months to go through thirty episodes. Perhaps it took so long because unlike most shows I watch, Mr. Show is not a serial narrative: it's sketch comedy. As such, it's very hard to write a review of the show as a whole, but I will make an attempt.

In Mr. Show, the titular Bob (Odenkirk) and David (Cross) took a talented cast of actors willing to do just about anything for the sake of comedy and made them do just about anything for the sake of comedy. Each episode begins with Bob and David addressing a live audience ("We've got a great show for you tonight, lots of funny jokes..."), and I loved this slightly confusing conceit, which always made me wonder about what layer of meta I was seeing: was I watching a sketch comedy show or a sketch comedy show about a sketch comedy show? I also loved that each sketch is linked to the next one in some way. These links can be anything from a song being played on a mini Victrola to a minor character in one sketch becoming the focus of the next one. Sketches don't always have a traditional punchline, and a lot of the fun of the show is in the appropriateness or absurdity of the transitions.

And what of the sketches themselves? Oh, my. Given that the show comprised hundreds of sketches, it's astounding how many of them are comedy gold, full of quotable lines. Maybe the best way to do this review is simply to link some of my favorite sketches.

"The Joke: The Musical" is one of the most brilliant things I have ever seen. They took a dirty joke and turned it into a musical: and it's actually kind of good. It's ridiculous how well it works. Mr. Show had lots of great musical moments (let's not forget "Rap: The Musical"), including an extended parody of Jesus Christ Superstar, but this one from the second episode (featuring a pre-fame Jack Black) indicated that there were things this show could pull off I was not even prepared for. And it's even better in context, as it ties the whole episode together (in addition to the links between sketches, episodes themselves often had themes, with recurring characters or ideas popping up throughout the episode).

Oh, "Coupon: The Movie." I do love a good movie trailer parody, and Mr. Show excelled at parodies of styles or concepts, frequently slapping two unrelated things together just to see how many jokes they could get out of it, as in "Dickie Crickets, the King of Megaphone Crooners." And, hey, did you see the end of that sketch? YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE?

The premise of "Pre-Taped Call-In Show" is right there in the title, and it's executed flawlessly by David Cross. This sketch is basically perfect, with a stepwise build to one of the most brilliantly hilarious gags I've ever seen. Seriously, just watch it, and you'll want to watch the whole show.

"The Audition" showcases David Cross once again, but it also highlights two of the show's strengths: its penchant for metahumor (an actor auditions with a monologue about an actor auditioning with a monologue) and its ability to press a joke for so long that even if it slips into not being funny for a short while, it loops back to ridiculously hilarious, like in the classic "The Story of Everest."

I am incredibly fond of "24 Is the Highest Number," which takes an absurd concept that is right there in the title and just runs with it to its inevitable conclusion. Mr. Show truly committed to its absurdity.

"The Fairsley Difference" is a great example of another Mr. Show standby: TV commercials. From rivaling grocery stores and political candidates to, er, rivaling combination condiments, Mr. Show pulled it off with aplomb.

Another frequent well of humor was the news, as shown in "Young People and Companions," which, in true Mr. Show fashion, takes one idea and puts spin upon hilarious spin on it.

I know comedy is subjective, but if you don't think Mr. Show is hilarious, you're wrong.
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(7 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 3rd, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
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I haven't really watched a lot of sketch comedy, so I don't really know how Mr. Show measures up or fits in (although, obviously, it's better than SNL). I was reading the A.V. Club reviews, which gushed about how sketchtastic it was.

I've heard interesting things about Larry Sanders! I do like meta.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 3rd, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
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WELL THAT'S A MORBID RECOMMENDATION IF I EVER HEARD ONE.

I really do need to watch more Monty Python, though. That's just a thing one must do. I watched one supposedly funny Kids in the Hall sketch on YouTube (as someone had linked it in the Mr. Show comments, I think) and didn't find it funny at all.
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:June 8th, 2011 01:01 am (UTC)
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One random night in college...or maybe it was after I graduated and went back for a weekend to see people...anyway...I found myself sleeping (supposed to be sleeping) on the floor in my sister's spare room at college, awake all night watching Mr. Show from something like 1am-5am. This is the only time I have ever watched that show. I have no idea whether it was a marathon or if whatever channel it was on usually aired it for several hours in the middle of the night or what. I can't remember anything about any of the episodes or if I found it funny...but I sort of think I must have found something about it interesting or why would I keep watching it all night? Surely I could've changed the channel...The only other thing I remember is hearing the birds chirp as the sun barely started coming up and that's when I turned the TV off because I thought there might be some chance of actually sleeping if I stopped paying attention to the TV.

So...yeah...maybe I'll try it again in a non-insomnia viewing situation? Since you're promising so much hilarity and everything.
[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:June 8th, 2011 07:16 am (UTC)
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I...hope you enjoy it when you're fully conscious?

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