To state the obvious, it seems like shows on a network called Comedy Central should be funny. Not just “According to Jim” funny either, but exceptionally funny. Since its inception, Comedy Central has been a second home to landmark comedies like “Saturday Night Live” and “The Kids in the Hall.” The network has also brought a new generation of classic shows like “South Park” and “The Daily Show” to the small screen.
Enter “Gerhard Reinke’s Wanderlust” – a travel show parody that follows the not-so-illustrious tradition of “Battlebots” and “Let’s Bowl.” In the same way that “Battlebots” was too much competition and not enough comedy, “Wanderlust” is too much travel show and not enough parody.
Gerhard Reinke (Josh Gardner) is an intrepid German travel writer and endearing buffoon who has appeared as a correspondent on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and, for what it’s worth, is bearable and pretty funny in small dosages. On the contrary, a half-hour of his Mike Myers’ “Sprockets”-meets-Balki-from-“Perfect Strangers” schtick can be too much to handle. “Wanderlust” feels like an overseas “Insomniac with Dave Attell,” but lacks Attell’s easygoing attitude and wry humor.
Gerhard travels to Thailand in the first episode, where he tries out Thai boxing, checks out the strip club scene and learns about Buddhism. The episode has a weak beginning, with literally nothing funny happening until nearly five minutes in.
At the episode’s conclusion, Gerhard recalls his adventure by singing over a terrible techno beat, which is funny in a Tom Green’s “Bum Bum Song” kind of way.
Unfortunately, getting to these worthwhile laughs requires suffering through some painfully dull and juvenile scenes, like when Gerhard – in a thong – is chased by a jellyfish or when he outfarts an elephant.
Although flawed, “Wanderlust” is still pretty funny … for a travel show. And that’s the main problem. For the show to work on Comedy Central, it should be funny before anything else.
2 1/2 Stars