Into every generation a sketch comedy (sometimes two or three or more) is born. Indeed, we can write the cultural history of our times in their names, from Sid Caesar's "Show of Shows" to the variety shows of Carol Burnett and Flip Wilson, to
The latest link in this chain of laffs is "The Birthday Boys," premiering Friday on
For many, this sort of group show represents a stop on the way to movies or directing or the sort of honest-to-goodness situation comedy that sketch comedies like to parody. What may begin as pure ensemble work can turn into six actors in search of a solo career. But the group still rules here; the actors, who comprise (I believe this is the technical term) a Bunch of Young White Dudes of varying sizes and hairiness disappear into the material. All are able.
Indeed the only name to appear in the opening credits is that of co-producer and featured player
Still, it has its roots:
There is a sketch in which a tiny, radio-controlled car navigates traffic on its way to "The Land of Pretend" — that is pretty much it, and it's funny — and another, an action-film parody, in which two cast members are required to be what I can only describe as extremely naked. ("The next thing I know I'm in a scene with my clothes around my ankles," says one in a later "documentary" meta-comment. "And I'm not known for my physique — well, I am known for my physique, just for it being terrible.") It is quite disturbing, mostly in a good way.
'The Birthday Boys'
When: 10:30 p.m. Friday
Rating: TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14)