More on Farces and ABC’s Wednesday-Night Lineup

I’m able only to blog about two things: TV and things I don’t like.

Which means I’m fully allowed to blog about what I blog about.

You may recall that a while ago I quoted Friends‘ Chandler Bing as a way to define farce:

It’s a staple of farce, best summed up by Chandler Bing in reference to an episode of Three’s Company: “Oh, this is the one where there’s some kind of misunderstanding.”

…is what I wrote. Have you seen Mr. Sunshine? It’s Matthew Perry’s new show. He plays Chandler Bing working at an arena. Allison Janney is his boss. Every phone in their offices’s rings sound precisely like my cell phone’s.

In this episode, the first I’ve seen, his maybe assistant girl lies about Chandler getting to meet Tony Hawk* to get him to go on a date with her sister. When Chandler arrives at the date (which may be in the arena itself, depressingly) he is slow to realize that he’s not meeting Tony Hawk. Then it dawns on him: “Okay,” he says. “It seems we have some kind of misunderstanding. You stay here and I’ll go check with the Ropers, maybe go to the Regal Beagle and sort this whole thing out.”

I don’t know why this is worth blogging about. It’s like when I realized that OPRAH backward is HARPO which is not only the name of her production company but also the name of the character her character in Spielberg’s Color Purple was married to.

In the end, I won’t be watching more of this Mr. Sunshine. However, I’m currently downloading the other Friends‘ Matt’s new show: Episodes, which has been getting good reviews. Hooray for Matt LeBlanc! Because he played the dumb one he (like Lisa Kudrow) got passed off as the least talented of the group by people who know even less than I do about what acting requires.

And, Jesus, look at him now!

Maybe this is the beginning of LeBlanc’s Clooney-esque Act II. I mean: remember season one of Roseanne?


* Your guess is as good as mine, here.

Two Kinds of Comedic Agony

By “agony” here I’m talking about mental anguish than can often manifest itself physically. I experience two chief ones when watching comedies. And by comedies I mean sitcoms.

Type One: Gervaisian
It began in The Office and it went through to Extras and then (or before?) it became the basis for the U.S. Office. Maybe there’s a more general term for this. Maybe it predates Gervais/Merchant. But you know what I’m talking about, those moments when David Brent’s/Michael Scott’s idiocies, ignorance, or delusions of grandeur are exposed to public scrutiny (other characters’ and ours). So like the time when David begins telling his “black man’s cock” joke and then a black man walks up. Or Scott’s Tots finally learning the truth. When I laugh at these moments, it’s always to alleviate intense discomfort. N has this great “Oh God!” he yells to indicate the degree of agony we’re both experiencing. It goes far beyond mild embarrassment. It’s a big part of what makes these shows so attractive, that we can be forced so fully to this weird pain. And that we can revel in it and laugh.
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