TV Review: The Comedians 1.7 “Billy’s Birthday”
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The Comedians
Season 1 Episode 7 “Billy’s Birthday”
Directed by Larry Charles
Written by Matt Nix, Ben Wexler, Billy Crystal, Josh Gad
Starring Billy Crystal, Josh Gad, Stephnie Weir, Dana Delaney
Air Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2015 10pm

It’s time to review The Comedians! As the title “Billy’s Birthday” probably gives away… it’s Billy Crystal‘s birthday and he does NOT want a big deal made. He tells his wife Julie (Dana Delany) that he plans on spending it with a DVR full of Shark Tank, and a bowl of white pistachios. Of course, at the office, Josh Gad and company are ready to make a huge deal, complete with a phony conference room meeting, a Billy-shaped cake “When Billy Met Birthday,” and of course the song (NO SONG!!!). As usual, Kristen (Stephnie Weir) is there to make things awkward and weird… and on fire.

Josh desperately wants Billy to live it up but he doesn’t have the greatest bedside manner. Billy’s advice? “Don’t talk to anyone who looks sad.” After more cajoling, Billy agrees to go out with Josh to celebrate. Of course the 33-year-old Gad and 67-year-old Crystal don’t have too much in common, as evident by Billy’s desire to spend birthday time showing Josh the steps from the Laurel & Hardy short classic, The Music Box. Josh’s response, “I’ve heard of music boxes.”

They head to Little Tokyo to take in some fine palm reading, and one of the funniest karaoke routines I’ve seen in a long time. But here the show takes a sudden turn, and becomes my favorite episode of the season. Billy begins to reminisce about his childhood, and the roots of his sadness about his birthday are divulged. It’s a really touching scene. I kept waiting for the sarcastic joke to spoil it, but it never came. Josh’s reaction is as genuine. When the show first started over a month ago, my fear was that they’d play their comedy duo roles too adversarial. The old/young dynamic has played a role, but in this episode they actually appear to be friends bonding. It makes for a strange dynamic in a comedy show, but great TV is great TV. When Billy tells Josh in the car, “You’re so weird, that I can’t say no to you,” you can feel his honesty in the same way you love your own best friend’s intricacies.

The ending is both funny and poignant, and made me almost shed some man-tears. While this episode was not as laugh out loud funny as others in the season, it was a different kind of funny. It was heartwarming and realistic. This WAS the Billy & Josh show as they commanded the great majority of screen time, and talk to each other like real people who happened to be famous, instead of famous actors reciting lines. I laughed, I almost cried (okay, maybe a tear or two), and I can’t wait for more of The Comedians. While I’ll admit I was apprehensive at first, this has become one of my favorite shows on television.

The Comedians 1.7: “Billy’s Birthday” debuts tonight at 10:00pm ET on FX.


Josh takes Billy out for his birthday.

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