'Workaholics' should try harder

Courtesy of Comedy Central

BY JACOB AXELRAD
Daily Arts Writer
Published April 10, 2011

Comedy Central needs to leave slacker office-comedies to the pros. While “Workaholics” describes itself as a story about three roommates fresh out of college coping with adult life, the series premiere, “Piss & S**t,” is little more than a lame attempt to recreate the Mike Judge film “Office Space,” only more frat boy and less mid-life crisis.

Workaholics


Pilot
Wednesdays at 10:30 p.m.
Comedy Central

The Internet sketch comedy group Mail Order Comedy has come up with “Workaholics,” a 10-episode series starring Blake Anderson, Anders Holm and Adam DeVine (“Traffic Light”) as … Blake, Anders and Adam. They proudly portray life after graduation as a daily struggle to score drugs, wake up before noon and keep from moving back in with Mom. Though this may be a strong setup, a proper plot is also required, which theoretically shouldn’t be too hard.

Yet the pilot concerns itself with piss. The telemarketing firm where the titular characters work requires a drug test of all employees and, big surprise, they’re not clean! Disregarding the fact that an office drug test seems a tad ridiculous, watching three grown men search for clean urine quickly becomes grotesque. The gag of throwing urine in someone’s face is funny the first time, sort of. But by the second and third try it’s time to return to the drawing board (i.e. think of some real jokes!).

This isn’t to say there are no redeeming qualities to the show. The opening party sequence features some quality hijinks, reminiscent of Judd Apatow comedies like “Knocked Up” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” However, these movies relegate their crude humor to the background, using it as a setup for more emotionally heartfelt fare — Seth Rogen matures and becomes a father, while Jason Segel falls in love with the girl of his dreams. Even the true slackers of Judge’s cult classic, which helped pave the way for misguided office workers everywhere, manage to learn a life lesson or two.

The only time the episode gains any real traction is a relatively clever reference to “Die Hard.” While climbing through a vent in an effort to circumvent the drug test, Anderson gives his best Bruce Willis impression suitable for TV censors — “Yippie Kai Yay mother-cluckers.” These kinds of pop culture allusions should comprise a show geared largely toward college-aged viewers.

“Workaholics” appears to be straddling two worlds: the stoner genre and workplace situation comedy. Properly executed, a synthesis of the two could be excellent and even garner the ever-profitable 18-49 demographic. Unfortunately, what we’re given doesn’t evolve much beyond a sketch from the Mail Order Comedy website — perhaps this is where the show belongs.

In other words, the jump from Internet to scripted series was premature. “Workaholics” warrants about eight minutes of the viewer’s attention — and this would be a hilarious eight minutes, mind you, complete with just the right amount of blunt references.

One should expect better from Kevin Etten. The executive producer of “Scrubs” perfected schoolmates-turned-new co-workers — Turk and J.D. are clearly old roommates, but they evolve and are real people, demonstrating that post-college life can, and should be, more than an endless stream of dick jokes and drug montages.