"Friendship" S1 / E6
- A- Community Grade
It’s too bad that anytime a ridiculous character is out in the real world interacting with regular people, the shorthand comparison nowadays is always Borat. Sacha Baron Cohen didn’t invent the comedic device (I think it was actually some caveman), but he certainly found a lot of success with it. Some of Dr. Steve Brule’s outings have echoed that same approach, and even though I assume the “normal” people are in on the joke, tonight’s episode was interesting because it strayed closer to another of Cohen’s creations: Brüno.
The best payoff into this detour occurs about halfway through, when a leather-clad and extremely drunk Brule excuses himself to use a gay bar’s bathroom because he has to go “from both ends.” Next thing we see is Steve on the crapper having explosive diarrhea and puking all over himself, and saying to no one in particular, “What the heck was in that whiskey?” After sleeping it off on the bathroom floor, he emerges, caked-on vomit all over his chin, tie, and jacket to find his new friends in the motorcycle gang called “the bears” have all left—cue some schmaltzy sad piano and Brule realizing that his “friends” have abandoned him. Even worse, he decides they’re hunks, his most hated of enemies. Somehow, these couple of seconds manage to be legitimately heartbreaking. Not that we’ve really seen Brule hang out with friends, but for a solid 10 minutes we see Brule doing some serious soul searching as he tries to come to grips with the fact that he has no friends. Even worse, he hung out with hunks.
This was the second pack of hunks Brule hung out with. Earlier, he heads down to Friends: The Club Of Men as he calls it, even though that clearly isn’t the name of the establishment. Brule’s palling around with a bunch of male strippers backstage, and as Brüno might, he keeps trying to wrestle with them. “I can’t believe I had stumblerd into a whole group of the best friends I could ever have,” Brule beams in the narration. They all seem to be getting a kick out of Steve, but they shoot down his suggestion that the club institute treehouse rules: “No girls allowed!” Basically, Dr. Steve is completely clueless, which is great, because he proceeds to join them onstage for what he thinks is an “aerobics routine.” We never see any schlong (and for some reason, I was completely expecting to in this episode), but Brule insists that some of the women there wanted to see his dingus, and as the male strippers are dutifully gyrating, the doctor is just as dutifully trying to follow along before finally just unbuckling his belt and getting down to his skivvies and white T-shirt. Afterwards, Brule tries to get the strippers to hang out as only friends can, but they also shirk him to hit up a bunch of “women who look like my aunt” for money. The showed a shot of an Asian woman when Brule says this—is Brule’s aunt Asian?
After the encounter with the bears, Brule takes the bus back to the studio and just stares indifferently at the camera before flicking a bouquet off a pedestal. “Maybe I’m derpressed,” he sighs. “Let’s check it out.” In the Doctor To Doctor segment, he asks a psychologist how she’d be able to tell if someone was depressed, going through the motions of pretending he needs help diagnosing a friend of his. It isn’t long, though, before Brule gives up the charade and, as we’ve seen him do so many times before, just lose complete and total interest in the interview. Instead of dozing or giggling, he just gets up and drags himself out of the studio. “Who even cares about this stupid show, just a bunch of hunks watching this anyway.” Cue the piano music again, this time with a bluesy saxophone in the mix.
It’s here that I realized, “Okay, there’s just a minute left in the episode. How’s this all going to wrap up?” Tonight’s episode marks the end of Check It Out!, and its finale skewed closer to an HBO series finale, with something as WTF?-inducing as The Sopranos’ last episode. The doctor tries to treat his depression with a bunch of ice creams from an ice-cream truck before he decides that “all the flavors of ice cream in the world won’t take the place of friends.” Was Dr. Steve going to kill himself? Was he going to meet a friend out on the street? Nope. Instead, he continues on down the street and sees a lone saxophone player, who he calls Trumpet Man. The Trumpet Man, even early on, is obviously Dr. Steve in a trenchcoat and fedora, but Brule doesn’t see it as himself. Instead, Trumpet Man—without moving his lips—tells Brule, “Steve, don’t let the turkeys get you down. You’ve got to fly like an eagle, not be like a turkey. Get over it, it’s your health. For your health.” That’s it. That inspirational message just ends the show.
Trying to analyze anything that happened in the last paragraph, I think, is kinda pointless. It’s just weird, much like anything out of Tim and Erics’ brains. But I still think, in all seriousness, that Check It Out! was meant as a character study. Brule’s seconds-long stints on Awesome Show were always strange but consistently showed him in the same light. In an hour now over six weeks, we’ve seen Brule’s family and much more of his life, but not him at home or among friends. (I guess Brule’s cameraman buddy Denny doesn’t count as a friend to his mind—they’re work acquaintances.) And not to repeat myself from last week, but while we’ve seen more of Brule it feels like we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of who he is. A troubled, complex, eager, childlike, and perhaps mildly retarded doctor, Dr. Steve Brule has proven that Tim and Eric are wholly capable of stretching their comedy into something that has their fingerprints all over it but at the same time is new and different.
- “Dringus and Drangus comedy team”
- “Tonight’s show is about friends: How come I don’t have any friends?”
- “Ladies were yelling for me to show them my dingus.”
- “This is a hot, hot movie. I didn’t see the ending because I was crying too much. I give it three hot wet kisses.”
- “All the flavors of ice cream in the world won’t take the place of friends.”
- This whole exchange is pretty amazing:
"I like bears.”
“I like black bears.”
“Yeah, I like honey.”
[Burps.] “Would it be possible for you to take me on a ride on your mumbercycle?”
- That’s it for Check It Out! See ya guys on the other side. For your health!