I write, even about bad shows, for the love of TV. But subjecting myself to Damon Wayan's sketch comedy series "The Underground" when most real critics did not makes me think that I should get paid for this one. This isn't a review. It is a word of warning. Showtime has developed a pretty decent track record in the past few years, and truthfully right now I like it more than the quick-to-cancel HBO. Burying this show at the end of the week without any promotion shows that even they may know what a wretched pile of garbage they have here.
"Underground" is a call back to the traumatic worst days of "Saturday Night Live" with Chris Farley and Mike Myers in which it appeared the sketch comedy genre was taken over by sadists. The only thing that makes Wayans laugh here is setting up characters to be tormented. Every single punchline in the show involves one of the characters being humiliated, slapped, beaten, molested, raped, murdered or tortured in some other fashion. Worse, is the way he repeats sketches as if there are "favorite characters" in this mess. Its bad enough we have to watch Mr. Angry, an anger management coach, teach people to control their anger by slapping those angering them, but we have to see him again slapping the habit out of drug addicts. And how many times can a person watch a pimp's hoe literally pull anything out of her vagina before you realize this whole thing is a repetitive time waster and go sprinting to delete it from the DVR. The sketches go absolutely nowhere, for far longer than they would ever need too and are about absolutely nothing. It's a shame too because players Damon Wayans Jr does a mean Chris Tucker and Edi Patterson has an Alex Borstein quality through all the masochism.
"Underground" is not just not funny, I would kill for simply "not funny". "Underground" is painfully, repulsively, gag-on-your-dinner unfunny. It lives by the rules that nothing is funny until you pour some blood out of it, or everything gross will suddenly become funny if we zoom in and get it in graphic detail. For example, the show invents "balls-out" blue jeans which allow men to indecently expose themselves in response to women "letting their junk hang out". So not only do we have to wrap our minds around where the hell Wayans is coming from (does he think woman walk around topless everywhere?) but stomach the image of testicular extreme close-ups in place of an actual satirical comic point. You can only imagine what "The Real Vagina Monologues" or the World's Smallest Penis looks like - and it isn't funny.
What does Damon Wayans have to say about it? Right off the bat he "cautions" us that this material may be just too over the edge and controversial for most people to handle. Pretty much the typical pre-emptive strike to make the show appear too cool for the room and critic proof. So if you don't find this crap funny, if you don't demand anything more from your comedy than midget jokes and small penis jokes, than you must not be hip. "The Underground" is "a place of self-expression and artistic freedom" apparently only for lowest common denominator degenerates. To call it a "black show" insults an entire race of people and ignores that "Chappelle's Show" already brought the sketch series to its high-water mark with some brains and an actual sense of humor.
Desperate to shed any sitcom persona from "My Wife and Kids", Wayans shifts into x-rated overdrive here. He shows himself to be a comic that needs to be put on a network leash otherwise a desire to "shock" will override any sense of fun and allow Wayans to destroy the show. "Underground" proves that there will always be a talentless hack around to revive the oddly sadistic impulses of sketch comedy. An ugly, angry, utterly pointless and completely unwatchable nightmare.
0 stars / 4
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