Season two of Funny Or Die Presents starts tonight at midnight eastern on HBO.
At the close of my review of the first Funny Or Die episode--the show launched last February--I posited that I'd keep watching it. I lied. I caught the first few, sporadically finding things to love, but the hit-miss ratio wasn't enough to keep my TiVo excited. Keith Phipps put it really well with regard to the website that spawned the TV show, saying that he generally really likes the things that people point out to him on Funny Or Die, but those things are curated by readers and Twitter friends. A half-hour on HBO has a greater opportunity to lose its footing. That said, this is a sketch-comedy show from the site that launched nuggets as solid as Between Two Ferns, so it's certainly going to have some worthwhile moments. It's just a matter of stringing enough of them together to keep short-attention spans satisfied.
The first episode of 2011 doesn't really accomplish that: There's some funny, not a lot of "die," and a whole lot that lingers somewhere between. It starts pretty funny, with Rob Huebel encountering Deepak Chopra--who apparently has a sense of humor, who knew?--on the beach. (Chopra has a metal detector, and he's sweeping for treasure.) Turns out Huebel had been duped by a Tom Cruise impersonator, and now he doesn't have anybody to show a washed-up dead body to. Chopra is game, though the price of hanging out with him is listening to his spiritual blather. At one point Huebel interrupts him, saying, "Keep an eye out for some pussy."
From there, this episode slid for me: A pair of segments called "Terrible Decisions With Ben Schwartz" pretty much just relied on Schwartz pulling faces, though the punchline for the second installment was actually pretty funny. "Terrible Decisions" was also short and sharp. Oh, and the first featured Gary Cole, so that's something.
A cop-show parody with the excellent name "United States Police Department" relied on a sorta-funny gross-out premise: A group of organ traffickers was ripping out people's assholes to sell on the black market. Fancy close-ups of a finger penetrating the bloody hole where an anus once was? Or maybe some shots of buttholes kept fresh in jars of formaldehyde? (Okay, those were fairly funny.) This is the show for you. (The FBI is watching you, though.)
A segment of Juggalo News, in which Insane Clown Posse fans translate world events for a very specific audience, was good, but also pretty one-note. It's probably hilarious for Juggalos who have senses of humor about themselves.
"Brick Novax's Diary," on the other hand, was a complete misfire, and also this episode's longest segment. If you're going to tell a story via voiceover with Barbie Dolls, it should probably be a little less subdued than this one was. It looks like this segment, along with Huebel's "Do You Want To See A Dead Body?" will be repeated throughout the season. One funny, one die, I guess.