There hasn’t been much buzz about The Comedians (yet). It’s a show about a show, which we know from successes like 30 Rock can be a very powerful setting for comedy. In this case, Billy Crystal and Josh Gad play themselves on the “Billy & Josh Show,” which pairs the comedians in sketch comedy. The generation gap and the resulting sense of humor differences are the driving force thus far.
Their first meeting in the pilot is an awkward dinner that shows they simply don’t understand each other and would prefer not to be teamed up. If you’re a fan of older comedians, you’ll bond with Billy. If you were born in the ’90s, you might sympathize more with Josh Gad. Billy’s desire to have a show is the only reason he accepts even though the network (FX in the show as well as in real life) insists he work with Josh.
You may not think you know who Josh Gad is, but if you’ve seen Frozen, you know him as the voice of Olaf. He also played Steve Wozniak in the movie, “Jobs” with Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs. Some of his work is referenced in the show in the same way that Billy Crystal’s past successes are called out.As we watch them film the first episodes, we see behind-the-scenes characters who give the show interesting layers. Esme (Megan Ferguson) is a young assistant who doesn’t always understand her position as a gopher. Her sarcasm when addressed about her run to get snacks says it all.
“Yeah…it’s magical what I get to do here…”
The best moments of the show so far are those which expose the great differences between Billy Crystal and Josh Gad. The ‘wacky grandpa’ comedian vs. the pot-smoking, blue language spouting, awkward youth. The young characters often address Billy as though they were speaking to their grandparent. He’s a comedy legend, but they know him more for the past and doubt he still has what it takes for comedy in the present.
That changes a bit when Josh and Billy both get high and run through a supermarket looking for snacks. It’s the first time they truly bond. Josh still finds a way to awkwardly destroy the moment, but over individual gallons of ice cream, they finally share sincere thoughts.
The mini sketch moments are opportunities to make fun of themselves, to parody the sketch genre, and to do some fairly hilarious impressions. The show is still young and you need to be in the mood for it, but I see it being a vehicle for an interesting take on the role of comedy in aging.
Watch at least the first three episodes before you decide if the show is for you. Hang on for the nuggets and you’ll find that you begin to bond with the duo in the same slow way that Billy and Josh portray. Maybe over a bucket of ice cream.