Thursday is always a huge night for comedy on television, thanks to offerings from NBC and FX. However, tonight – based on my viewing of the first two episodes of each show — I’d highly suggest you DVR your go-to programming and tune in live to Comedy Central’s two new offerings, The Ben Show with Ben Hoffman and Nathan For You.
Comedian and writer Ben Hoffman hosts The Ben Show at 10 pm EST, following Tosh.0. Each episode has a theme that’s carried out through its 30-minute offering, much like Important Things with Demetri Martin did. On tonight’s premiere, it’s all about Ben wanting to buy a gun. I won’t tell you how it ends, of course, but I think it’s interesting Comedy Central decided to lead with this episode in the wake of the ongoing gun control debate. No doubt there will be folks who misconstrue great comedy for something to pad their agenda. Anyway…
As we follow Ben along on his gun journey, we’re treated to sketches like the brilliant “YoBitchuaries” (watch below) and “The Retweeter,” a hilarious summation of all-too-eager Twitter users. We also get a look inside Ben’s real life each episode as we watch him video chat with his physician father in Kentucky as well as in sessions with his therapist.
On Nathan For You, business school graduate and comedian Nathan Fielder takes the earnest improvement-themed reality shows made popular by Bravo, HGTV et al and ever-so-gently filters the concept through a perfectly deadpan sense of humor. Fielder’s goal on each episode is to help small businesses thrive. To that end, Fielder suggests marketing campaigns and/or publicity stunts. To be totally clear: these are 100 percent real businesses and the ideas Fielder comes up with, while they may seem absurd (see below, poo-flavored frozen yogurt), are truly actionable. As Fielder told me recently, when he arrives on site at these businesses, the owners are truly looking for help. There’s even a segment on an upcoming episode that’s downright heartfelt– what starts out as a ploy to get customers lined up at a local gas station, ends with Fielder and three would-be customers atop a mountain.
Fielder made a name for himself in his native Canada as a correspondent on This Hour Has 22 Minutes, a Daily Show-like series that’s been around way longer than the Daily Show. Check out a preview from tonight’s episode of Nathan For You below, and be sure to check out the series premiere tonight at 10:30 pm EST on Comedy Central!