In TV land, I haven’t had much to look forward to on a nightly basis. The season just wrapped on my two favorite NBC comedies, Parks and Recreation and Community. Previous to those, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, Portlandia, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have wrapped early in the year and probably won’t boast new seasons until the fall.
So what’s current in this turbulent summer season of TV that’s worth a few chuckles? The Whitest Kids You Know are keeping it fresh on IFC. However this being their last season, each episode is bittersweet. So really, the question still lies as to where to go for some fresh comedy. In this case, it’s old faithful comin’ through… Comedy Central.
As the network continually attempts to fill the sketch/variety void that Chappelle’s Show created, Jon Benjamin Has a Van now steps up to the plate. To mainstream audiences, Jon Benjamin is taking a huge step in revealing himself in front of the camera, after voicing such popular animated characters in FX’s Archer and Fox’s Bob’s Burgers. However comedy nerds are well aware of Benjamin’s on-camera prowess. Personally, my favorite appearances of his were as the Bruce Willis impersonator on Human Giant and the sleazy, temperamental Benjamin Franklin on Important Things with Demetri Martin.
Being one of my favorite comedic actors, I was thrilled when hearing that Comedy Central was giving him his own show. Of course being familiar with his work on the aforementioned shows, I assumed that the show would be purely sketch comedy. Being an absolute sketch comedy nerd, I would have been totally fine with the straightforward format. However upon watching the previews, some apprehension arose when I realized that Jon Benjamin Has a Van seems to be a lot of prank comedy. Besides Jackass, prank comedy generally leaves a bad taste in my mouth after my years of experience as a stuntboy on an FM radio morning show. However if I love the cast enough, I will sit through prank comedy shows, such as Dog Bites Man, starring Zach Galifianakis.
Joining Benjamin in the new show is a favorite stand-up comedian and actor of mine, the very underrated Leo Allen. He has appeared on Comedy Central Presents both as a solo comic and with his comedy team, Slovin and Allen. Fans of the short-lived Michael and Michael Have Issues also recognize him as the timid office worker who refuses to pee on women… quite an admirable trait. Outside of Comedy Central, Allen has dominated the comedy video website, Funny or Die.
So what am I saying here? Will I watch the show? Hell yes and I am incredibly happy for Jon Benjamin’s success. He is always in company with phenomenal comedians, which leaves him with two animated series that were recently renewed and his first starring role on the small screen. Make no mistake, dreams can come true later in life. Even when you’re bald, short and middle-aged. Just ask Danny DeVito.
Oh yeah… and Jon Benjamin.