Your Pretty Face Is Going To HellOne of the things going for this show is that it airs on Adult Swim, already home to much sublime shows as Childrens Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV::. Adult Swim has had the genius idea of producing comedies that are only fifteen minutes, and although you don't get a lot of time with the show, it almost guarantees that it can be funny as there's no filler and nothing to be dragged out. Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell follows the daily happenings of Gary, an associate demon in hell along with his horned and bespectacled intern, Claude.
MaronMarc Maron is the superstar of comedy podcasts. He interviews anyone who is anyone in the comedy world, with an in-depth sitdown interview out of his garage. Maron makes himself equally vulnerable as the guests, which can result in heartfelt moments and also awkward moments. Maron starts each show solo, lamenting about his depression, neurosis, bitterness, and resentment. It's part of his personality and viewers love hearing his mundane grievances with everyday life. I beg the unpopular question: is this really enough to sustain a television show? We already have a show about a working comedian and his awkward struggles in situation, and it rhymes with Schmouie. A preview of the pilot episode of IFC's Maron is available on YouTube:
The episode starts out predictably, with Maron talking to his nosy, annoyed Jewish mother, taking shit from podcast guest Denis Leary (who is, as always, great in his brief appearance), but takes a different, almost poignant turn when he takes a young wannabe comedian under his wing to remove a dead rodent from the crawlspace in his house. This act, of course, turns into a reflection of Maron's feelings of failure as a real man. Much of the neurosis and self-loathing of Maron seemed tired: not to him, because that's how he really is, but I just feel like we don't need the story of a struggling, self-loathing man in the entertainment industry. Maron is more of a victim of its timing than its material, although many of the lines seemed to still need polishing.
It's also hard to relate to Maron or sympathize with him, when he has gained much success from interviewing famous people, and it's a career that literally no one but maybe three people can relate to. Full disclosure: this review has a lot more to do with my feelings about the subject matter than the actual quality of the show. I'm getting tired of television becoming so meta, where entertainers only write shows about characters that are entertainers. This navel-gazing cinema has its place, but we just don't need another one right now. This episode of Maron by itself is nothing to write home about, but I'm willing to give it another chance, and hopefully Maron's character will explore more of his world than his internal neurosis and the inside of his garage.
Nathan For YouNathan For You is so simple it's brilliant. Nathan Fielder, playing a version of his awkward self, takes struggling small businesses and provides seemingly ridiculous marketing ploys to get them business. Some of them, as it turns out, are just crazy enough to work. The best comedy comes when Fielder interacts with the customers and clients, making this show half prank show and half cringe humor. A standout episode is one in which Fielder helps a struggling gas station owner by having him promote his gas as a dollar a gallon, but only with a rebate. The catch? The customer needs to put the rebate form in a dropbox in a remote location on top of the mountain. To his chagrin, several customers take the challenge, and Fielder is forced to have them actually go through with his over-the-top word challenge to find it. The situation slowly turns into an entirely different story altogether, when Nathan starts to form a bond with these customers and learn more about life and friendship. It's a weird tangent yet nonetheless brilliantly executed.
Another episode, The Hunk, which is specifically about Nathan, is a ploy to get him to be comfortable around women. He and his producers produce a Bachelor-like television show, complete with a handsome host with whom Fielder tries to shield from the women in fear of competition. The women find out the reason they are there, but bizarrely still mug for the camera. Even though the premise is that of a prank show, Nathan For You is actually a type of comedy that is hard to put into words. Situations take bizarre turns that escalate quickly in which he has to deal with. Nathan Fielder is convincing as the underdog that the pranks are more about putting himself in an awkward predicament than the people he works with, and it removes the mean-spiritedness and deceit that makes typical prank shows so unappealing. He is the type of comedian in which his facial reactions and body language are more amusing than any lines written. Comedy Central has done the right thing and picked up the show for a second season, and you can currently catch up on this season on Hulu. Trust me, it's worth it.