Review: HBO’s ‘Talking Funny’ is primitive entertainment with plenty of laughs

By | April 22, 2011 at 10:06 am | 2 comments | News, Reviews, TV/Movies | Tags: , , , , ,

talking funny

Save your $12, moviegoers: You can see Scream free every day at home on any cable-news channel, the battlefield for combative squawking heads.

That said, may we suggest clicking to HBO at 9 pm EST tonight to watch four civilized and celebrated fundits, Louis C.K., Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld, converse about comedy on Talking Funny.

Professional comedians tend to turn on the joke spigot only for paying customers, but for 50 minutes nonstop, these heavyweight headliners tirelessly work the room, actually the living room with a view, what the simple set — two leather and two cloth chairs amid ordinary background furniture — resembles.

Gervais, the executive producer of the special, appears to be the cheeky moderator of the ricocheting discourse, which careens between the shelf life of jokes (Seinfeld, apparently the most environmentally conscious comic on the panel, confesses to sometimes recycling jokes from 10 years ago), the unavoidable but memorable pratfalls at each comic’s debut gig, the elastic boundaries of comedy (which Louis C.K. stretches until he snaps off a tasteless, tactless, and, yes, hilarious rape joke).

Although not exactly revealing a trade secret, Rock, briefly becoming the jokesperson of the group, deftly encapsulates the job description of uncommonly amusing performers who measure their lives, well, their careers at least, in bits.

“The problem with the young guys,” says Rock, only 46 years old but suddenly sounding as though he’s preparing for the Senior Comics Tour, “is they think it’s all attitude. You gotta have jokes. Under your weird persona, under the crazy glasses, under your crazy voice, whatever gimmick you have, Henny Youngman has to have something to do with it.”

Listening to four comics kibitz for an hour sounds like primitive entertainment in an iPod-iPad-Swiss-Army-knife-smartphone universe, but it’s good for a laugh ― actually many laughs.

Check out a preview below.

About the Author

John Delery

John Delery has written thousands of articles and millions of words in his career, and still he has professional goals: He wants "Be honest with me, Doc: Will I ever tweet again?" to someday supplant "Take my wife...please" as the Great American punch line.