4 out of 5
Created by: Sam Richardson, Tim Robinson, Zach Kanin and Joe Kelly
covers season 1
Weird comedy is like our forte nowadays. Laugh tracks used to rule the major stations; “adult” comedies – i.e. swearing and nudity – could be found on the premiums; and the occasional sketch-style outre stuff would pop up on Comedy Central. Our weird was more closeted, or hadn’t yet matured. At some point – probably coinciding with the burgeoning feedback loop of the online world, growing in accessibility – we were gifted meta-awareness, and comedy just went weird. Arrested Development happened. Adult Swim started to take off. I know some of you still have laugh tracks, but you’re a dying breed.
That being said, weirdness is relative. You get a taste of a show’s particular range, and you know how close to expect it to go to the fourth wall, or how much it will dwindle in magical realism.
Detroiters is a weird show about two ad sales dudes in Detroit – – who craft impossibly cheesy ads that somehow seem to please their clients. …And themselves as well. ‘Troiters follows the classic Naked Gun formula of making sure everyone either is or isn’t in on the joke; both Sam Richardson and Tim Robinson have a blast pitching silly slogans back to one another or singing their own theme songs, followed up by high fives and hugs whilst proclaiming their deep friendship to the other. Crass jokes and much swearing will follow, of course, for that week’s gambit of convincing a new potential client that they’re the best – or maybe when Sam becomes a prostitute, or when Tim’s father is released from the insane asylum to re-run the company – but the foundational open-eyed and cheery relationship of the duo gives the show a charming positivity.
And giving it a further edge is that the weirdness range is never quite clear. The first episode had me somewhat perplexed trying to determine the style of comedy: Dark, goofy, plotted. And then the second episode had me in stitched due to how outrageous it was. The show – rather organically, I’d say – slips between these modes throughout, building up an impressive mini-world of regulars and its own internal language. Thanks to this fluidity, and much like another Lorne Michaels produced comedy – Portlandia – an unexpected identity of place and people actually does emerge. Whether or not anyone is actually from Detroit I have no idea, but the show convinces me of a reality of this strange corner of the city occupied by these two strange dudes and their associates.
And it makes me incredibly happy to return, week after week.