luke kalamar stand-ups…
Combining stand-up with sketch comedy is nothing new if you’ve been a fan of Comedy Central for several years. A few examples of shows with this format were Mind of Mencia, Important Things with Demitri Martin, and Chappelle’s Show. This is why when I first saw commercials for Mash Up boasting a similar style of show, I couldn’t help but think, “Again? How many stand-up comedian lead shows will follow this format?” I decided to give it a shot though because this format has been tweaked as of late with shows like Tosh.0, and that show is currently on its fourth season. If Tosh.0 can take some of the old and breathe new life into it, then perhaps Mash Up can do the same.
The good news is that Mash Up actually succeeds in this. Yes, the show is stand-up mixed with sketch comedy like the commercials said. What makes the show different however is how it is more like Gabriel Iglesias’s Stand-Up Revolution as opposed to the previously mentioned shows. This means that instead of host T.J. Miller (Chelsea Lately, Cloverfield, She’s Out of My League) being the main focus of the program, other comedians are brought in to do their own bits. This episode featured Hannibal Buress (Louie, The Eric Andre Show) and Jared Logan. On top of that, as the comedians are doing their jokes, scenes are show that actually depicts what the comedian is talking about. For example, in this episode Buress talked about his encounter with a crazy woman at a bar in Edinburgh, Scotland. While talking about his experience, scenes were shown that detailed visually Buress meeting this woman and how the encounter went. It was a whole new way of watching stand-up comedy, and it definitely enhanced the experience.
The best part of the entire episode was a sketch comedy segment called “Word Mashup,” which takes three completely unrelated words and puts them together. This episode featured a combination of Bad Boys, BOYZ II MEN, and Men in Black to form Bad BOYZ II MEN In Black. What resulted was a scene about a shootout between two men in suits and two men in bulletproof vests, with both duos singing smooth R&B. Nick Cannon was actually one of the men in the vests. The pure absurdity of the whole situation made this segment shine.
Despite a newer way of watching stand-up comedy and the very humorous “Word Mashup” sketch, the episode was mainly hit or miss. The remainder of the sketch comedy segments fell flat, with “Exquisite Betrayals with Jared Logan” being the worst, and only some of the stand-up jokes really made me laugh. Considering how much the show features stand-up comedy, “only some” is not a good sign. Buress was easily the funniest comedian of this episode, with his entire bit of being in Scotland standing out. Despite being relatively unknown, Logan also had some good bits of his own.
I’m sad to say that Miller was definitely the weakest stand-up comedian in this episode humor wise. Whenever he was on stage saying some jokes, I found myself waiting for when the next comedian was going to come up. He produced a few chuckles out of me at best. Since he’s on the show more than any other comedian, it definitely brought the quality down. This actually makes the show less desirable to watch again. How am I supposed to get into a show where the host, the one person who is on weekly, is not the funniest person? I hope he gets better in following episodes. If not, I can’t see myself watching this show on a regular basis.
Plus, I found myself liking some jokes because of the accompanying visual sequences and not the joke itself. As previously mentioned, these visual sequences enhanced the stand-up viewing experience. They shouldn’t be used as a crutch for humor though. Unless visual representation is already part of the joke, an extra video shouldn’t make a comedian seem better than they really are. I honestly didn’t laugh at some jokes until the video sequence started.
I also wanted to point out my confusion with the opening sequence and the constant portrayal of people with televisions on their heads. I simply do not understand why this is the imagery the creators have gone with. In the opening sequence, Miller mercilessly attacks television-headed people with various items. Flames and explosions are very prominent as well. I’m not sure if this is supposed to make the show more exciting, but all it does is confuse me. Also, the repeated elements of the show that make it seem like an old-school video game seem out of place. I like how the different comedians are chosen in a type of character select screen, but I don’t see how that relates to the show at all. They’re all about appearance and nothing more, and it just feels unnecessary.
Considering the amount of shows that falter in the first episode but get better soon after, I’m willing to watch future Mash Up episodes. There are plenty of other comedians lined up to be featured and I have no doubt that some real gems can come out. Miller really needs to step up his game though. The other featured comedians should add onto his humor and not completely outshine him. It’s his show after all. Again, I can’t see myself becoming a die-hard Mash Up fan if Miller just can’t deliver regularly.