UPDATE: LISTEN TO THE ADVENTURE ZONE. NOW!
So, most of the people who remember when radio shows first started getting adapted to television are probably dead by now, but we have the next best thing: People getting TV adaptations of their podcasts! But, unlike scripted radio shows that translated pretty naturally to television, most podcasts are just two or three people talking at each other, usually spontaneously, that have been edited to sound more coherent. Prior to this entry, I think the only adaptations I’d seen were either documentaries or semi-educational, not particularly talk-based. So, this was a very different experience. Not necessarily better or worse, just… different. It’s like watching a round-table news show, except that it’s funny, everyone knows it’s a little ridiculous, and no one is yelling about what Jesus would want to pay in taxes.
I knew of Griffin McElroy before this show started, since he’s the founder of Polygon, the gaming arm of Vox media and his name sounds like he should be a linebacker. I didn’t know anything about either of his brothers, Justin and Travis McElroy, but upon first glance I immediately know that Travis is the superior brother, because he has the beard of a Viking that died from an overworked pelvis. The fact that he has the exact tattoo I was going to get (Hylian Crest to cover a port scar) and that the opening to his profile is “Travis has killed before, and he will kill again” confirms this.
The premise of the podcast, and therefore the TV show, is that the three brothers humorously answer questions that are either submitted to them by the audience or that they found on Yahoo! Answers. The main difference is that they actually have to do things in the TV show versus the podcast where they generally just have to describe doing things. They also appear to be drunk or high for most of it, but I’m beginning to believe that’s just their natural state. Not that they’re drunk or high all the time, just that a law enforcement officer would think it from their appearance. I’m sure most of you have at least one acquaintance who’s like that.
Update: Nope, pretty sure they’re really f*ckin’ high. Which works, because I am pretty drunk. And moderately handsome sober.
This is the second episode and was the one requested. I watched the first to get a feel for the series, but I didn’t feel the need to review it. It has clowns in it, and I can only stand so many clowns. “So many” being one, if it’s dying. Let’s do this.
The show starts with the disclaimer:
The McElroy brothers are not experts and their advice should never be followed. They’re just 3 brothers that created a podcast, and they’ve returned to their hometown to tape a TV show. Also, this show isn’t for kids, which I only mention so all you babies out there know how cool you are for watching. What’s up, you cool baby?
It then uses a song by “The Long Winters” as the theme, which I definitely approve of. Apparently, it’s the same theme from the podcast. Since John Roderick from the band hosts a podcast I listen to, Omnibus with him and Ken Jennings, this is even more fitting to me.
The brothers introduce themselves, reminding me once again that Travis is the best, by the way he calls himself the “Middlest” brother. I can only assume he’s just finished woodworking and preparing Lattes for an Indie Rock group, given the state of his glorious beard. They falsely introduce the show as Shark Tank, with Justin and Travis listening to Griffin’s great idea: Pornography for birds.
Fortunately, we’re spared any details when they decide to go to the question they’ll be answering for the episode: Is it okay to lie on a resumé if you know you can do everything demanded of you?
Now, this is actually a pretty old question with a lot of arguments on both sides. None of those arguments will be made here, in favor of some wacky hijinks. Right up front, they declare that resumés are just bullshit and recount old jobs they’ve had and lost. It turns out that one of Griffin’s former employers, who fired him, is Justin’s father-in-law. Griffin says that they’d absolutely hire him back now, so Justin calls him and they all three pledge to interview for the job that Griffin lost.
Now, Justin and Travis decide to wear “business” clothes, which are fairly normal outfits. Griffin complains that he has no business clothes, so they tell him they have an outfit for him, which ends up being… well, I’m just putting the picture below, no reason to describe it.
The three decide to “pad their resumes” by taking extremely temporary jobs, about 30 minutes each, ranging from sweeper boy to cupcake decorator to decorative bow designer. Oddly, while most of their employers say they were terrible, one of them says she would hire Travis. Again, he is the best.
The brothers then visit the office of the town mayor, Steve Williams, to ask him to be allowed to be the mayor of the town so they can put it on their resumes. All three are made Mayor for a minute, which they attempt to use to put hits on their enemies and pass such resolutions as “the state bird is abolished” and “the sister city is the moon.”
The three join their father, Clint, a radio DJ, to get another job on their resume. Justin attempts to DJ for a minute and gets nothing right, including naming Tim McGraw “McGruff,” which, let’s be honest, would be a great duet. They could sing “Live Like You Were Dying (In Jail).”
They go to the Chief of Police to ask for a similar arrangement to the one with the Mayor, but he declines, until they ask to be the chiefs of “Safetytown” the fake roadway they use to teach driver’s ed. They divide it into three zones. Travis names his “New Duckburg” and populates it with fake Vikings because, again, he’s the best. And, to be clear, I wrote the Viking thing at the beginning before seeing this, so I feel so vindicated right now. His wife, Teresa, is there also.
Griffin names his portion “Chilladelphia,” and brings his wife, Rachel, and his friend Emily. He’s happy because he’s monopolized all of the “resources” in Safetytown, by claiming the water fountain, the bathrooms, and the fake gas station containing go-karts.
Justin, remembering that the episode is about getting a job from his father-in-law, names his town “Chad Pennington,” after his father-in-law’s favorite football player. He’s populated it with his in-laws.
Travis’s Vikings quickly start raiding the other towns, mostly “Chilladelphia,” taking cars and batteries, resulting in a go-kart chase and some other shenanigans until, apparently, the police force them to stop filming due to their behavior. I don’t know if it’s real, but they say it’s not a bit and they seem serious. Either way, it ends the Safetytown segment.
It cuts back to the main set, where they go over their resumes, giving such tips as “write it on fly paper and stick it to the boss” and “put in a coupon.” Griffin then puts his resume on a scrolling LED board, which is one of the funniest sequences in the episode, including his resume skill entry “Oh Shit, this thing does other colors.”
They go into the final interview with Justin’s father-in-law Tommy Smirl. First, Justin brings in a resume hand-written on butcher’s paper rolls and basically threatens to stop feeding his family. Travis comes in, sticks his resume on Tommy, and states that he is not at all qualified, then fails the test when Tommy offers him a beer. Griffin bribes Tommy with $6. Tommy calls in Griffin’s former supervisor Dwight, who mentions that Griffin, on his first week of employment, asked for a paid vacation to go to Bonnaroo. He leaves the electronic resume in the room as “part of the bribe” as he slinks off. None of them get the job, because the system is broken, clearly.
The three relax in a hot tub, fully clothed, while they try to remember the original question. They answer it with “people will give you any job you want if you bring a film crew.” As of this writing, I’m trying to find a new job, so this might be good advice.
Well, it’s definitely different. It feels like a combination of scripted and unscripted, because that’s what it is. The guys aren’t that used to being on television, which is kind of obvious by the way they slightly avoid the cameras more than most TV hosts. Still, being brothers, they have a natural relatability to each other which carries through to the audience. They aren’t the funniest hosts I’ve ever seen, but they seem more real, which gives the show an earnestness even though it’s a farce.
The premise of the episode is pretty much perfect. Everyone has had to deal with resumé issues, and this just provides a fun parody of all the ridiculous ways people exaggerate it. I think the Safetytown sequence is probably the best, because pretending to be lords of tiny communities is pretty much what these guys were made for. Sad that they had to cut it short. Also, I may actually steal Griffin’s sexual-innuendo filled resumé, as I, too, am horny for teamwork.
I enjoyed this show. It’s not gonna win any awards, but I love the idea of just taking a prompt and running with it. It’s kind of like a Q&A Jackass. The point isn’t that they’re going to answer it, it’s just seeing the weird stream-of-consciousness stuff that they come up with going off of the idea.
I’m probably going to prefer their D&D Podcast “The Adventure Zone,” if I ever get around to listening to it (Update: NOTHING IS BETTER THAN THIS), because watching drunk people try to roleplay is usually hilarious and watching families play games is usually hilarious, so this should be some sort of exponential hilarity. The show’s on VRV and you can sign up for a free trial to avoid paying for it (VRV’s not paying for me, I don’t care if you get free content from them).
Also, Travis is the best.
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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