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S1: Format doesn't work as well as it should, stilting the flow and not helping the often average material
On paper I liked the concept here. With my experience of Black mostly limited to his rage-fuelled bits on The Daily Show, it sounded like a show totally set up for him to lay judgment into things that wind him up would work really well. Unfortunately the delivery of this doesn't make the most of its strengths and, although has some good bits here and there, generally feels a bit average throughout.
The format, while sounding good, is actually part of the problem. In a 20 minute show it is very fragmented and scripted; I get that it is television, not improv or stand-up, but the stiffness of it and the very precise delivery of bits tends to rob it of energy and life. The comedians deliver their short bits in a way that never feels natural – indeed even the moments of banter between them feel over-rehearsed and lacking spark. The subjects chosen offer potential and to be fair in each episode I would say there is at least one or two good laughs or chuckles to be had, but mostly it is material that feels like it needed a bit more work on the writing in order to have some flair to it, and then a bit more freedom to deliver it.
This feeling extends to Black himself; he is really hemmed in by the format, delivering his material in very strict blocks and never having the time and freedom to build as well as I have seen him do on TDS. His lines may occasionally be funny, but not very often. The sense of material lacking refinement, a format that seems to know it is not really working, and comedians not really consistently on their best form, is all made that little bit worse by the production itself. The set itself looks a bit second-rate, but it is the audience that is the issue – well, not so much them, but the way the audience is presented. All through the show we have what is clearly canned laughter, and I found it really quite annoying and distracting to have the taped audience trying to force me to believe that a rather so-so line was actually the most hilarious thing ever. It doesn't help again that we can actually see the audience in the background of many of the shots and thus we see them let out a sort of smile/snort reaction at a time when the laugh track would have us believe everyone is rolling in the aisles.
It is a shame because maybe with a bit less production and a bit less rigidity, this could have been quite fun, but unfortunately it is really very little to talk about. The most immediately noticeable mistake is that Black himself is wasted as a resource due to the format, but sadly it is only the first of many things that really fall below the required level in this show.
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