Seven shows that need funny commentators more than American Idol

by Danny Gallagher, posted Sep 22nd 2009 11:05AM
Ellen DeGeneresAmerican Idol's choice of Ellen DeGeneres as a judge replacement threw everyone for a loop, even schlubs like me who don't watch the show.

It's not that she's not talented, successful or funny. It's just an odd choice, putting a comedian on the show that takes its goal of crushing losers' dreams on live television so seriously. It would evoke the same reaction from me if they picked Andrew "Dice" Clay as the new judge, if the Diceman was talented, successful or funny.

And besides, why do they need humor and comedy on such an otherwise serious show? There are lots of humorless, vapid and downright boring shows that are crying out for comedic interjection.

Tom Delay training for Dancing with the Stars1. Dancing with the Stars

The big problem with reality TV is that the contestants take themselves way too seriously. In fact, everyone on these shows seems to experience every human emotion in their genome EXCEPT laughter and humor. And when they try to interject comedy into the situation, it feels more forced down our throats than a stomach pump. That's precisely why the '00s answer to Circus of the Stars needs a little funny in a lot of ways. It's a ridiculous concept for a show that's wildly successful and someone needs to be on that show to point that out to the audience. Any show that would let Tom Delay compete for attention is screaming for comedic interjection, except, say, America's Most Wanted.

2. Grey's Anatomy

This is probably the closest we'll ever come (I hope) to a dramatic series that attempts to mimic a reality show. It's gotten so serious and dull that anything trying to be the funny would make it mildly tolerable. It's the one and only medium I would allow Robin Williams to revive his Patch Adams performance, providing that the plot allows his character to die in some heavy irony, such as accidentally strangling himself with a balloon animal or choking to death on a red clown nose.


It's very hard for me to trash the most realistic and important television broadcast since the days of Edward R. Murrow, but if you actually sat and watched C-SPAN in a big chunk, you would be praying for a Pauly Shore movie marathon on the very next channel you came to. It's noble attempt to make our government more accessible and genuine scares away just about everyone who doesn't have the attention span to watch a Snuggie commercial. But they can still accomplish the same feet with a subtler approach by putting a small silhouette at the bottom of three guys watching the show the way another certain show did and letting them talk back at the screen. It certainly would have made Sen. Joe Wilson's "riff" seem less funny by comparison.

Carson Daly desperately attempting to be funny on Last Call with Carson Daly4. Last Call with Carson Daly

The former TRL talking head has had his own late night comedy show for nine years, which is amazing when you consider that it has nothing to do whatsoever with comedy. Maybe that's because it's on later than those knife infomercials and their audience primarily consists of people staying up so late that they are insomniacs in need of boredom for sleep, heavy drug users or both. It would be nice if Daly had a regular funnyman or woman on the show. Speaking of people with no sense of humor...

5. Any of the talking head cable news shows

The lack of self-awareness and any semblance of a sense of humor on these TV screamers is astounding. They yell and scream and rant and rave and use big words in the wrong context and believe every single thing that comes out of their mouths, even if the very fabric of time and space would have to change in order for it to be true. Everyone of them from Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly on Fox News to Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz on MSNBC need someone to remind them and some of their more hardcore, insane followers that they need to stop taking themselves so seriously if they want others to with a well-timed, sarcastic joke. Either that or some kind of mental health expert with a heavy dose of liquid Vicodin. And speaking of people who are either on drugs or need to be...

The Real Housewives of Atlanta6. The Real Housewives of...well, any of them

I don't know where producers and TV executives find the people they put their cameras around and maybe I just don't want to. But the people who put together these mech-bridezillas must have gotten a big batch of crazy from the local Costco. These people scream, yell, fight and throw around furniture more than a bad camp reenactment of Mommie Dearest, and it's all under the guise of "reality." These people need a good hard slap in the face from a hardcore roastmaster like Jeffrey Ross or Greg Giraldo, comedians who can rip a hole in their souls with the flick of their tongue. That is, assuming that they have souls.

7. Wipeout

I like John Henson. He was funny on Talk Soup. He was funny on that TNN show he had for about a month. He was even funny on the TV Guide Channel. As for Wipeout, well the title says it all. The material obviously written for him dishes out more puns and non-sequitors than Norm Crosby at a Rich Little roast. Bob Sagat got less groans on America's Funniest Home Videos than John's jokes. His jokes are more forced than, well, mine.

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B Galella

Nice post. Imagine if you life was commentated by funny people and play-by-play analyzers. You have got to check out this post my friends.

October 06 2009 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thanks for the Wipeout mention. I like the show, but I'm really hating John and John.

And I'm with Skim - Tom Bergeron's very quick on the quip. It's the stuff they try to interject as filler that's fail.

September 23 2009 at 1:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think Tom Bergeron does an awesome job with 'comedic interjection'. I think you're reacting to the forced humor from unfunny contributors like Jeffrey Ross, Kenny Mayne, and Jimmy Kimmel.

September 22 2009 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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