Friday, September 12, 2014

Dear Comedy Central

Dear Comedy Central (,

I would like to start out by saying I'm a fan of Mr. Devine's comedy, and rather enjoy Workaholics.  I think it's a quality, broad-humor show with a brainy streak in the vein of classics like The Three Stooges and Cheech & Chong, and I look forward to viewing more episodes in the future.  I also would like to make the point that I don't shirk from rough comedy; in fact, I revel in the stuff.

However, I think the choice to use a gun (with fired blanks, apparently) at the end of the "Adam Killed a Man" episode of "Adam Devine's House Party" was unfortunate.  I found particularly egregious his pointing the gun for comedic effect (a) at two police officers he was holding hostage, (b) at the (obviously shocked) crowd present, then (c) at his own face.

I do understand that the pointing of guns is widely used on TV programs, but there is usually a psychological wall separating the violence in drama/cop/thriller shows and comedy programming (just as The Daily Show gets away with certain types of editorializing because the network that puts it on the air has the word "comedy" in its name, unlike, say, Sean Hannity, whose network awkwardly includes the word "news" in its name).

Further complicating things, it seems the conceit of "Adam Devine's House Party" to be that it's a pseudo-reality show (as obviously scripted as it may be), where a real-life Mr. Devine is hosting a party of sorts at his house (which also has a theater in it?), and that some of his guests have been invited to perform their stand-up comedy acts.  Eliminating the "fourth wall", in this sense, opens up some comedic possibilities to be sure, but also brings with it the need for extra responsibility since what it portrays can be taken to be more "real" by some viewers, even if they still think of it as scripted comedy in general.  Try to think like a 10-year-old on this one.

Please note that my comment is NOT about the episode in general, its murderous plot, the fact that Mr. Devine appeared on camera throughout the episode covered in blood while presenting the various acts (I actually thought that was pretty funny), or any other dramatic elements. I'm only referencing the gun as an object, and how it was used on-screen.

This is a particularly sensitive matter when a comic actor of Mr. Devine's talents, which appeal mostly to younger viewers, can put the wrong idea in people's minds about what sort of thing is "funny" to do with your friends (something tells me that somebody, somewhere, at some point, mourned the cancellation of MTV's "Jackass", but I hope never to meet that person).

I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter.  In particular I would like to hear that this uncomfortable choice is a single occurrence, and not a sign of where Mr. Devine plans to take his artistic sensibilities in the future.  I sure would hate to miss any of it.

Something I may or may not recommend depending on which ad is shown: