‘The Comedians’ is a comedy show set as a documentary about the trials and tribulations of a fake comedy show, starring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad as fictional versions of themselves. In a not surprising, but still disappointing twist, life imitates art with this cringe worthy show. The fictional comedy show about the fictional comedy show just is not very funny.
In the very first episode the plot revolves around how a sketch comedy show starring Billy Crystal won’t work because young people don’t know who he is and don’t care about him. Pointing out the elephant in the room directly in the show does not make it any less true. The show’s network execs say that by adding Josh Gad the sketch comedy show will gain relevance. Wait, what? Nothing against Gad, but he isn’t exactly the type of person that generates excitement by getting a new TV show. He is most known for something that doesn’t even involve people knowing what he looks like (‘Frozen’). His performance in ‘Book of Mormon’ was also incredibly impressive, but how many people even know that he was an original cast member? Funny as he was in both of those things, calling Gad a comedian in the same breath as Crystal feels disingenuous at best. Despite his current lack of relevance Crystal is a comedy icon. Gad, while funny and likeable, is not; nor does he really seem to have the potential to become such an icon. If anything the show should have focused on Gad attempting to make a comedy show and the network throws an aging Crystal at him to give the show a chance. At least that makes more sense.
The entire show feels like an unnecessary (and terrible) cable version of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” with all of the awkward and none of the funny. Crystal and Gad have some funny moments, but as soon as something promising happens the writing quickly ruins it. Self-deprecation seems to be a consistent theme for the show, but ripping the comedians for the past failures is only funny if the audience has any clue (or memory) of what is being referenced (Gad had a previous TV show?).
Billy Crystal (and Josh Gad, for that matter) is an entertaining individual who deserves an outlet for his comedy so he can (again) establish mainstream appeal. ‘The Comedians’ is not and should not be that outlet. It singlehandedly kills the fake comedic documentary and awkward reality based show formats in ways not even thought possible.