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TV Review: The Comedians 1.1 “Pilot”
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The Comedians FX Josh Gad Billy Crystal

The Comedians
Season 1 Episode 1 “Pilot”
Directed by Larry Charles
Written by Larry Charles
Starring Billy Crystal, Josh Gad, Megan Ferguson, Larry Charles, and Stephnie Weir
FX
Air Date: Thursday, April 9th, 2015 10pm

The Comedians should be hilarious. You have the legend Billy Crystal. You have the newcomer in Josh Gad. You have veteran comedy writer/director Larry Charles. Everything adds up… almost. Like most pilots, you can only hope you’re left with a desire to see where the show is going. Do you want to take the ride with these characters? After a bit of a bumpy start, yes I do.

The Comedians follows a road Larry Charles has walked before. As a writer and director on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm he allowed malcontent comics to run wild and show how the world deals with them. Here he has two. Billy Crystal is trying to get back on TV with a new sketch show, The Billy & Billy Show. His meeting doesn’t go well as he is told that the FX people believe there’s too much… well, Billy. The solution is to bring in a fresh face to pair with the veteran, and that’s Josh Gad of Book of Mormon fame. “Is he the fat one or the gay one?” The show can only exist with the two or not at all.

What I love so far is what I imagine is an honest disconnect between two very different generations of comedy. Crystal is old school to the tee. Gad on the other hand is off the cuff and quick to improvise. After their first meeting at a restaurant, they acknowledge the meeting didn’t go well and joke how their agents will lie and say they loved each other. It’s a funny back and forth until Gad makes a sudden and loud penis joke. That leads to a funny scene as we see each in their cars talking to their agents about why they don’t like the other. “In the middle of a sketch he’ll just yell COCK, and they think it’s funny.” “He’s afraid of the word cock. That’s not comedy, it’s homophobia.” I’m firmly middle ground on this debate. I can just as easily watch a Marx Brothers comedy and then listen to Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen tell the other why they’re gay for hours.

The Comedians tries at times to be too awkward and some of the situations seem too contrived for a show based in reality with real actors. At times the show reminded me of Showtime’s Episodes (which is a positive as that show is truly great), but then they keep bringing up Gad’s failed 1600 Penn, and I can’t help but think that’s a bad omen. If they run with the old school/new school comedy rivalry the show will be a tremendous success because the two leads are hilarious. Gad commands a screen with his goofball persona and silly charm. And his voice, as any youngster with a talking Olaf doll can tell you, is infectious. Crystal is the calm and occasional grouchy old comedian, stoic and strong. I’m very interested to see how far they push the limits with the sketches.

At the end of any pilot, all that matters is whether or not you want to see episode 2. With The Comedians, I do. After all, it’s hard not to trust the resumes and careers of the main men in charge.

The Comedians debuts Thursday, April 9th, at 10:00pm ET on FX.

Image Gallery

Videos

The Comedians – Botched – Official Trailer


An FX original comedy about an FX original comedy. Billy Crystal and Josh Gad star in The Comedians. Premieres April 9.

The Comedians Teaser Trailer (HD) Billy Crystal


In the series, Crystal plays a superstar veteran comedian who is reluctantly paired with Gad, who plays an edgier up-and-coming star, in an unfiltered, behind-the-scenes look at a late night sketch comedy show where egos and generations collide. Rounding out the cast are series regulars Stephanie Weir, Matt Oberg and Megan Ferguson.

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