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|Index||27 reviews in total|
Not since "Meet the Feebles" have puppets been used for such evil
purposes. "TV Funhouse" is pure gold: a demented kiddie variety show
with some reality skits thrown in (a method taken, I'm guessing, from
the hidden-camera end credit shots from "The Upright Citizens Brigade")
and a few animated shorts to fill out the rest of the half hour, all
three shockingly, hilariously obscene.
The twisted scenes involving the drug-using, cannibalistic, necrophiliac Anipals are jaw-dropping, to say the least; the Christmas special involved them injecting a hypodermic needle into the spine of their good-natured host in order to extract some "Christmas spirit," then cutting the pinkish substance and selling it on the street (not to mention using it heavily themselves). If that's where the episodes starts, imagine the ending.
Robert Smigel's animated sequences are, it seems, what he would have done earlier had "Saturday Night Live" not been on a broadcast channel: the usual use of impersonated celebrities and wacky situations is raised to grotesque new levels, making it much, much funnier.
A show that is nearly impossible to describe, the kind of thing which becomes mind-numbing when described by a breathless, giggling friend, "TV Funhouse" in its undiluted first-hand form is one of the funniest shows Comedy Central has produced in a while, rivaling "Strangers with Candy" and "The Upright Citizens Brigade" in crudeness, giddy hilarity, and sheer ballsiness. Highly recommended for those with strong stomachs and a low tolerance for political correctness.
Network: Comedy Central; Genre: Sketch Comedy; Content Rating: TV-14;
Classification: Contemporary (Star range: 1 - 4);
Season Reviewed: Complete Series (1 season)
Robert Smigel, the voice of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, spins off his shining diamond in the rough 'TV Funhouse' animated shorts from Saturday Night Live into his own sketch comedy show for Comedy Central. The title couldn't be more appropriate, as the show is a brightly colored carnival ride through the absurd, the sick and the twisted in Smigel's mind now given free reign for a full 22 minutes. It is delivered to us like a full-length children's television show. Doug (Doug Dale) is our gosh darn, sweet as sugar host, always coming to us in ridiculous get-up of whatever theme day today's show is about - Astronaut Day, Hawaiian Day, Western Day, etc. His puppet pals are the AniPals and include a turtle, a chicken and his chicks, a dog who does nothing but chase his tail with malicious intent and Triumph himself. We follow the AniPals into their world and out of the studio as they discuss all manner of foul things and get into all kinds of wacky situations.
It's pretty well known at this point that what Comedy Central finds funnier than anything in the world is not a well timed comedy of errors or witty naturalistic dialogue, but nothing more than scatological vulgarity - especially when it is juxtaposed against a backdrop as wholesome as a kid's show. Swearing puppets? Comedy gold to them. Despite this autopilot programming, they actually stumbled onto something with this show. 'TV Funhouse' is actually funny. It works because the show doesn't tip it's hand and ironically snicker at itself, but plays it's cornball set-up with a poker face. Smigel doesn't spare us from anything crude here, making ample use of projective vomit, novelty poop, hair balls and - in a particularly disgusting segment - Terrance the snake hacking up a mystery item that he ate that day. But Smigel does it all with a giddy smile. He splatters the walls with that wit, edge and feverish enthusiasm that make his 'Ambiguously Gay Duo' or 'Fun with Real Audio' segments on 'SNL' such a hoot. His dead-pan animated segments were the best, featuring such things as 'Wonderman' whose soul goal was to save only beautiful women and get his alias some action and 'Sted-Man' in which Oprah's live-in boyfriend Stedman haplessly pretends to be a CIA agent to avoid commitment.
Most amazingly, 'Funhouse' is able to keep it's pace up at a funny pitch almost the entire 22 minutes. There are dud skits here and there, but any attempt at sketch comedy series in primetime is wrought with dead spots and minefields. The disaster that was 'The Dana Carvey Show' proved that even the most talented comic can't keep every sketch in each episode hysterical. So Smigel hits more than he misses, particularly compared to most shows. That is quite an achievement in this genre. Disgusting, fitfully funny and lined with pointed commentary. I can imagine that if this type of offbeat crude comedy is ever going to get appreciated as a kind of post-modern art it would have to be from Robert Smigel leading the charge. I'd follow him.
* * *
This show totally warped my mind! I've never seen anything on television that could top how raunchy and offensive this show was. I thought the characters, the acting, and the writing were all dug up from some junior high school playground. Sexist, perverted, and mysogonistic, this is one great show! I'd recommend it to anyone who thinks that television is just here to keep us in a perpetual state of numbness. Trust me, this one will wake you up! It's amazing that in these PC times, a show like this is allowed to be on the air! Rating: 10/10
No doubt canceled because of what must have been an avalanche of lawsuits, this show strove to offend everyone. The most shocking thing about this show really was that Comedy Central let it be killed. It was truly awesome. Robert Smigel is a vicious satirist in the tradition of Monty Python. Like Monty Python, much of his satire goes unnoticed, or people just don't see the irony in it. What few episodes were made are funny enough to make you wet your pants.
stars: Doug Dale as Host Doug and puppet Jeffy the duck. Robert Smigel
as Fogey, Rocky the lobster, Xabu and Triumph the insult comic dog.
Dino Stamatopoulos as Whiskers and Chickie. Jon Glasser as Hojo the
turtle. Dave Juskow as Larry the mosquito.
Okay, this is a weird show..let me tell you! It's host is Doug, a stereotypical children's show host that lives in a house with several puppet animals called the Anipals. Doug is totally G-rated, but the Anipals cuss and drink and do all kinds of bad things. While there was the plot with the Anipals, there are also short films. Its a sketch show too. Some of the sketches include, Fetal Scooby Doo, Black Sabbath cartoon, Porn for Everyone, Mischivous Mitchell(spoof of Dennis the Menace), Ambiguously Gay Duo and many others. The sketches were cool, considering they were sometimes cartoons, sometimes real life and sometimes they were clay animated. My personal favorite sketch was Joecamal, a cigarette based spoof of Pokemon. TV Funhouse was a great show that some find offensive and bad, but was so funny! Based on the short cartoons featured on Saturday Night Live, which were also written by Robert Smigel.
rating-TVMA. 8 episodes my rating-B plus.
From his days on Saturday Night Live to his success on Conan, Robert Smigel has shown his amazing ability to create memorable characters. This show was very witty and low brow at the same time. My favorite episodes involved Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (a Robert Smigel creation) and a lizard who doesn't want to mate. Robert Goulet does a great job playing himself (as a pal of Triumph) and I would recommend this for everyone except young kids. There are great cartoons in this show but they aren't for children.
When I first saw commercials for TV FUNHOUSE, I thought that it would be really stupid. It was really stupid, but it was also very funny. It was vulgar too. I hadn't seen a show this vulgar since SOUTH PARK. Just like SOUTH PARK, the laughs come from the vulgarity. In a few short weeks, TV FUNHOUSE became my favorite show so I was sad to hear that it was canceled. It should have been on for longer than it was because it was an extremely hilarious show!
I was skeptical at first--the weekly intro with the host in various positions while people walk around him isn't great--but this show is hilarious and gets better each week. Lots of shows try to be sick, but very few are sick AND funny in a new enough way to make them watchable each week (South Park being the obvious king of the genre). The show consists of both live action, with the kiddie-style host "Doug" and his puppets, and short clip segments (many of which are cartoons). Happily, Smigel doesn't just fall back on the Ambiguously Gay Duo or Triumph; his new creations, like the Joe Camel Pokemon take-off, are very funny if a little over the top. I do wish he wouldn't use real kids in his skits, as most of them are clearly adult-oriented. Comedy Central has had more than enough bombs lately, but "TV Funhouse" is definitely worth watching.
I really love TV Funhouse. Love the format and the irreverent humor and
the politically incorrect nature of the whole thing. However, I think
the basic problem with this show and why it never caught on is because
the anipals grow tiresome after a while. After the third or fourth
episode their sketches start to blur together and none of them are that
interesting. They always do the same thing: take drugs, hump other
animals, act like idiots, get into trouble, etc, etc. It's decadence
piled on top of decadence and the characters are so thinly drawn that
it becomes easy to lose interest.
The real genius of the show is in the animated bits. Stuff like the Dennis the Menace take-off where the Dennis character torments his neighbors because they're Jewish, and "Stedman", where Oprah's boyfriend uses the ruse of being a secret agent to escape from having to make love to Oprah. Also hilarious are some of the live-action bits like the ad for the doll that acts as a surrogate parent for the little girl.
I think if they had found a way to move the show along a little quicker it would have caught on with more people. But too many of the anipals jokes fall flat and sometimes the moments are very static. And some of the characters are simply not funny. Like the out of water fish who is always gasping and the dog who spends every episode chasing his tail.
One of my other favorite shows is Wonder Showzen, which certainly borrows a lot from TV funhouse. It uses the same kid's show format and is very politically incorrect, although Wonder Showzen has a slightly nastier edge to it. But I think one of the things Wonder Showzen does do successfully that TV funhouse doesn't is keep the pace clipping along so things never become static or tiresome.
There is no doubt that comedy central has gone down hill... but this show is awesome. I don't think there's been a time I haven't laughing during this show. It has great writing and I think corrupting children is the funniest. "Places to find Christmas presents", "Jokamel", "Stedman"... this show is genius.
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