While MTV continues to find big ratings in the realm of reality programming, the network has made waves in recent months by taking risks with its scripted series, separating wheat like Awkward. from the chaff of The Hard Times Of R.J. Berger. Unfortunate title withstanding, I Just Want My Pants Back shows promise (though we’ll have to wait several months to see if it can follow through), and while it certainly won’t win any awards for originality, the supernatural Cops parody Death Valley (a.k.a. “Reno 911! with monsters”) at least shows a commitment to new shows that exist outside of the network’s typical “get fucked up and fuck” reality fare.
That said, monster makeup ain’t cheap (and getting Mike Judge to resurrect Beavis And Butthead certainly can’t be, either), and something has to compensate for the higher overhead of these more ambitious projects. Enter Ridiculousness, the latest televised outlet for professional skateboarder-turned-unlikely MTV success story Rob Dyrdek. Ridiculousnes marks the third MTV series fronted by Dyrdek—following Rob And Big and Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory—and while the fact that his name isn’t in the title shows some faith in Dyrdek’s hit-making skills, it’s doesn’t seem destined for a long run. The reason: This show already exists—it’s called Tosh.0, and it’s one of the most popular series on cable. The Internet may be a vast depository for people embarrassing themselves on camera, but there’s only so much room on cable for shows where affable, recognizable white dudes make jokes about viral videos. Ridiculousness probably looks great on an MTV budget spreadsheet, but as a TV show, its first episode does a poor job of arguing for its continued existence.
Of course, it’s not just Tosh.0 that Ridiculousness resembles—after all, that show is just another in a long line of viral-video clip shows that also includes G4’s Web Soup and the late VH1 series Web Junk 20. (For what it’s worth, the show also cribs from the goofy narration of Bob Saget-era America’s Funniest Home Videos.) If there’s anything original in the premise of Ridiculousness, it’s it the extremely narrow focus of the videos presented by Dyrdek, 85 percent of which end in some sort of non-life-threatening injury. Within the first five minutes of the debut episode, we see accidents involving a backhoe, a baseball, a bottle rocket, an inner tube, and a kneeboard—and that’s just in the segment subtitled “Redneck Good Times.” It’s cut-and-dry, lowest common denominator entertainment, but at least the show has a canny sense of humor. Before everyone who’s ever seen Idiocracy can take to Twitter to declare Ridiculousness the real-life equivalent of Ow, My Balls, Dyrdek trots out a parade of crotch-tramua under the banner of “Nutflix.” Let it not be said that Ridiculousness is above a solid pun.
Like Rob And Big and Fantasy Factory, Ridiculousness comes to us courtesy of Dickhouse Productions, and more than either of those shows, it bears the mark of Dickhouse’s name-making series: Jackass. Like Jackass, Ridiculousness is grounded squarely in the tradition of old-school skateboarding videos—only with the amazing-trick-to-cringe-inducing-bail ratio reversed. Nobody ever stays on the board (or the bike, or the pogo stick) on Ridiculousness, and to the credit of Dyrdek and his cohosts—Sterling “Steelo” Brim and Chanel West Coast—there’s minimal mean spiritedness to the laughter the videos garner. Even when Dyrdek commands Brim to rewind a video where a bottle rocket fires into a guy’s crotch and then explodes, he’s not doing it from a place of mockery—he’s doing it from the perspective of someone with several video-taped face-plants under his belt. If Ridiculousness has one thing going for it, it’s that camaraderie between the host and the subjects of the videos. It’s arguable Dyrdek doesn’t need Brim and West Coast there to illustrate that camaraderie, but if it weren’t for them, the show would bear an even greater visual resemblance to Tosh.0.
But really, the only question Ridiculousness has to answer is “Are these videos funny?” The answer: sometimes. The segments that think outside of the injury box—like tonight’s “Ghost Riders”—yield the most sincere and surprising laughs. Dyrdek can’t sustain a series on security camera footage of SUVs rolling away from their careless owners, however, so it’s likely that crotch-shots, and wipeouts will remain Ridiculousness’ bread and butter. The series première does end with footage of a man being chased by a llama, though, so there’s at least a sign that Ridiculousness’ spotlight moments will be devoted to something a little more out of the ordinary.
During his clumsy introduction of Brim and West Coast, Dyrdek mentions that the only thing that’s more fun than watching viral videos is “watching them with a group of your friends.” It seems like Ridiculousness will sink or swim based on that premise—after all, the only thing differentiating Ridiculousness from other series of its ilk are the people selecting and commenting upon the videos. If you grow weary of Daniel Tosh, Dyrdek’s here to guide you through the video archives of human stupidity. If you don’t, well, Dyrdek’s here to help MTV be able to pay for shows that might be of greater interest to you.
- Dyrdek is strangely insistent on saying “World Wide Web,” rather than “Internet.” It’s funny and endearing, like your dad saying “The MTV.”
- If Rob’s clowning on all the viral videos coming to MTV’s attention, what will be left for Beavis And Butthead?
- Here’s the full disclaimer text from the opening of the show, in case you’re looking to get your 15 minutes of fame by injuring yourself on camera and sending the footage to Dyrdek: “MTV and the Producers insist that no one submit any videos of themselves or others performing any dangerous activities. We will not open or view them.”