Review by Lauryn Angel
Chip Baskets will tell you that he is an artist. His medium is laughter. His pursuit of the art of clowning inspired him to travel to France to learn from the masters. Unfortunately, Chip never bothered to learn French, and his dream of graduating clown college is dashed.
If this sounds bizarre, it’s just the beginning of the strange trip that is Baskets, a half-hour program created by Zack Galifinakis and Louis C.K. and directed by Jonathan Krisel. Chip returns to his hometown of Bakersfield, California with his French bride (who only married him for his green card) in tow. Determined not to give up his dream of clowning, he gets a job as a rodeo clown, befriends an insurance adjuster named Martha (Martha Kelly), and reunites with his mother (Louie Anderson) and twin brother, Dale (Galifinakis again, as a character very similar to Marty Huggins in The Campaign).
The beauty of this show is that it’s not played for laughs. Every character is completely earnestly, even as they say and do some very strange things. One moment, we indulge in schadenfreude, laughing because these terrible things are not happening to us. The next moment, we witness a touching moment between the characters that makes us feel bad for laughing at their misery. And then there are parts that are funny because of a certain je ne sais quoi. (Yeah, I went there.)
The show takes a couple of episodes to really find its footing, and the characters are both fascinating and frustrating. For the most part, they are not pleasant people; the exception here is Martha, who steadfastly supports Chip, even whilst trying to counsel him against whatever terrible move he is determined to make next. Louie Anderson particularly shines as the Costco-obsessed Christine Baskets, who loves her son, and protects him just as viciously as she criticizes him. Martha Kelly is the perfect straight-woman for Galifinakis , serving as the mostly-common-sense foil to Chip’s grandiosity, and the friend who is always there for him when he stumbles yet again.
Baskets is sharp comedy – both in the sense of being intelligent and being cutting. It will most likely be divisive, but viewers with a darker sense of humor should give a few episodes of Baskets a try.
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