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Tosh.0 - Season 3, Episode 2

Last week, I touched on the inherent challenges in reviewing a weekly clip-and-response show like Tosh.0. However, I also addressed how advanced its "outside" (thank you, to whichever commenter last week shared that insider lingo-nugget) segments were—"Web Redemption" and host/comedian Daniel Tosh's parodies of selected viral vids, in particular—compared to between-highlights randomness on competitors like The Soup. And if I'm being honest, I found it difficult to throw much weight behind my analysis of just how funny the episode's YouTube selections themselves were, in addition to Tosh's insult-to-injury narration.

So tonight, in the interest of (extreme) thoroughness and (occasional) comprehensibility, I will be tackling Tosh.0 bit by literal bit; humiliating 30-second home-movie by shame-spiraling, half-minute candid moment; and blurred-out glimpse of Tosh's penis by pixilated censoring of his ass. It is both the height of my career and a general, noble privilege. (There will be no "Stray Observations" for this entry, as the ensuing synopses are more or less a bundle of stray observations with flash moments of prose here and there.) And without further Gerard Dep-adieu, here's my own personal breakdown of Tosh.0, Season 3, Episode 2 (Attack of the Phantom Menace II Society):

Tonight's opening video threatened to pick up where the questionable taste of last week's "guy falls down elevator shaft and dies" cringe-fest left off. A young boy sleds down the front of his house at top speed, only to get lodged underneath the family car's front-end like he was an Olympic luge mechanic. Fortunately, children aren't only impervious to calories and job-market fluctuations but also acute physical trauma, and the buoyant kid emerged hysterically laughing moments later. Tosh doesn't reward our trust with a happy ending often enough, so there was something hilarious in the catharsis, and it may just have been an amends for making us laugh at a dead guy in the season opener.

Of a very high building. Equipped with a rope swing. And nothing else. Tosh's subsequent "Are you fucking kidding me?!" reminded me of the classic Curb Your Enthusiasm coup de gras when Larry, stranded on a broken ski lift with an anxious Orthodox Jewish woman ready to jump, looked at her, summoned all his wit and simply, perfectly chastised, "What are you, fuckin' nuts?" Dubbing said suicide-swing enthusiast Svetlana simply because she was Russian seemed no-brainer overkill. But then again, the actress who played Larry's adversary on Curb, Iris Bahr, currently portrays the titular brothel-owner on HDTV's oddball comedy Svetlana. Whoa.

That might be the closest A.V. Club has come in a while to replicating a potential Onion headline. But alas, in the age of user-uploaded media, our world is one, big, self-parodying soundbite. This was actually the episode's most exceptional isolated clip in some ways and marked one of several instances in the half hour when Tosh and the producers got away with surprisingly explicit content. And for the second consecutive Tuesday, our cardigan-loving host scored an aces oral-sex zinger, warning viewers to "not go down on her when she's angry." Never one to leave a naked ass hanging, Tosh then introduced his first "outside" bit, which found the amateur exhibitionist squeezing fruit with his tuchus at a smoothie stand. Which was very funny, although you have to wonder if he only picked out the lead-in vid as an excuse to do something punishing to his self-image. Methinks the guy's a masochist.

Tosh's commentary about bloopers being included in prison-focused reality shows didn't add much to the clip's what-the-fuck-factor, although it did make me wonder how incredible behind-the-scenes outtakes from Beyond Scared Straight must be. Phil?

In a second slice of inter-episode congruity, intentional or not, another crazy hippie lady made the cut, this time as the subject of Tosh's 20-second, one-liner lightning round, which he hilariously prefaced by daring to "see how many funny comments we can post before her baby breaks." The quips were hit or miss, but damned if I didn't laugh out loud when he cautioned with faux-sincere worry, "She'll break her baby's back ribs." There's something in Tosh's expressiveness that softens a lot of the show's acidic commentary and lets him get away with a lot more than he should be able to.

Maybe it's because the accompanying clip actually highlighted an impressive, foible-free accomplishment (hard to fittingly articulate it, see below) or because Godzilla gags and A-Bomb digs are either exhausted or ultra-sensitive subjects, but Tosh is consistently at his pandering worst when it comes to mocking Asians. Well, except for that one ninja-shit skit last week. That was pretty damn funny. And was more about shit.

Fortunately, the episode rebounded quickly (and probably had this one on deck for that very reason), returning to the sense of awe we all shared after watching that Russian nutcase jettison off an icy rooftop. Has there been any truer observation in this show's three seasons than when Tosh insisted, "You are not a true fan of this show if you didn't think that's the greatest video we ever put on the air"? And, yes, I laughed when he branded Ireland as "a country so full of drunks, they still think U2 is a great band," but until he clears up whether he's accusing their citizens of continuing to like U2's classic albums or finding new enthusiasm for their newer, lesser work, I will stand firmly in Bono's corner. Which should help things.

One of a few clips that served more to lead into commercials and keep people eager than give Tosh material for riffing, and like the others in this episode, a "meh" at best. But did you keep watching? I'll bet you did.

While not as clever and outright funny as the premiere's Antoine Dobson craziness, Atene proved a unique foil for our redeeming viral crusader, in that he was visibly offended by Tosh. For some reason, Daniel also uses these as an excuse to perform some true stand-up as a warm-up to the actual Redemptions. His intention, to contextualize the ensuing segment and make it clear whose side he's on, make sense, but the jokes themselves (I think it's safe to say "Corky from Life Goes On" jabs can be retired) feel superfluous. Tosh's viewers understand his motivations by now and trust him, and those 45 seconds could be redirected toward adding more humor to the closing credits, padding some of the aforementioned widowed clips, or fitting in one more video in entirety on the episode's front end. This week's Redemption did provide the following, note-perfect barb between Atene and Tosh: "I am not going to be able to go back to work when this airs." "God forbid the Olive Garden doesn't take you back." And despite Atene's showy standoffishness, appearing for his Redemption did result in an actual Cougar Town bit part, which was proof enough of Tosh's underlying sweetness.

Tosh.0 Tuesdays 10pm / 9c
Preview - Web Redemption - Brian Atene
Tosh.0 Videos Daniel Tosh Web Redemption

See above comments on the clumsy wedding couple, but add a half a star for this: "Those are the two. Best places to go for spring break. In the entire world."

I was kind of surprised noted sports-freak Tosh didn't make a crack about the ubiquitous, angel-voiced panhandler sharing birth-certificate info with a certain frozen-headed baseball legend. But he did at least acknowledge the overwrought hysteria over this latest "inspirational" online discovery, instead hitting the road in what felt an awful lot like a satire of Jay Leno's man-on-street snoozers to test out just how talented the average homeless man really is. The twist of hiring actual professional vocal ringers was funny, although probably more clever in the writer's room than outright gangbusters as an extended bit.

Those abused-puppy ads freak me out as much as anyone else, but wasn't it a bit late to first be taking the piss out of them? Literally? By superimposing shots of urinating and masturbating primates over McLachlan's tearful "In the Arms of An Angel"? Somehow, that makes it sound really funny.

That inclination Tosh verbalized last week to bury these? Probably a good call. Weakest point of the episode by far.

Maybe music isn't the most suited muse for Tosh's humor. His frat-boy side (and weirdly Asian-aggressive tendencies) came out just a bit when he referred to Chad Hugo generically as the "Asian guy from the Neptunes." A lot of people actually know him by name. That said, his look of perplexed self-awareness about that very ignorance as he read a viewer Tweet that suggested he "should go harder on Asians" nearly redeemed him. Which, given all he'd done for at least one poor soul a few minutes earlier, is something he probably earned.

Overall, this was an improvement on last week's offseason rust, although if Tosh would cut down on or smarten up some of his racial humor (i.e. mockery of Asians), ditch Viewer Video, and keep things timely, season three could continue refining his formula and convert an even bigger audience. (P.S. What was with the guy dancing alongside Tosh during the credits? Was he their Soy Bomb? And did I really just close with a Soy Bomb joke?)