BY BRIGID KILCOIN
Daily Arts Writer
Published November 22, 2009
TBS: It's where old sitcoms go to die. While the channel may forever be remembered for its nearly 24/7 lineup of "Everybody Loves Raymond" reruns, it has actually introduced original comedy programming with shows like "Lopez Tonight" and "Tyler Perry's House of Payne." The newest addition to its lineup is "The Very Funny Show."
"The Very Funny Show"
Thursdays at 11:59 p.m.
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"The Very Funny Show" has an extremely simple format: Host Tim Meadows ("Saturday Night Live") takes the stage at famed Chicago comedy club Zanies, does a few minutes of stand-up and introduces two guest comedians who each perform a set.
"The Very Funny Show" is an idea that benefits both TBS and the comedians it features: It gives two up-and-coming performers a chance to appear on television and provides TBS with a program that costs almost nothing to produce. Production values are nonexistent: A single camera cuts between a full-body shot of the comedian onstage and shots of laughing audience members. The only visual pizazz in "The Very Funny Show" comes from the garish lights that serve as the stage's backdrop.
Stand-up comedy is usually seen in two guises on television: either in the hour-and-a-half Comedy Central-style special or in segments wedged between celebrity interviews in late-night comedy programs. "The Very Funny Show," however, is a half hour of straight-up stand-up. Half-hearted interviews with the comedians in which they discuss the thought process behind their jokes serve as between-commercial-break bumpers, but there are no other diversions.
This lack of other material in "The Very Funny Show" means it rises and falls on the strength of the material it features, and the talent selected is somewhat uneven. The premiere featured Henry Cho, a Korean-American comedian from Tennessee whose material focused on the tired trials of marriage and child rearing. Slightly better was Nick Thune, whose performance method of strumming acoustic guitar interspersed with one-liners was reminiscent of comedy staple Demetri Martin.
Because its format is so bare-bones, "The Very Funny Show" is capable of being hilarious or excruciating depending on who its guest comedians are. It's the television equivalent to a grab bag: You never know what you're going to get.