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TV Funhouse (DVD Review)

20 Jul, 2008 By: John Latchem

TV Funhouse

Street 7/22/08
Paramount/Comedy Central
$26.99 two-DVD set
Not rated.
Stars Doug Dale. Voices of Robert Smigel, Dino Stamatopoulos, Jon Glaser, Tommy Blacha, David Juskow.

What kind of twisted, empty soul could conceive of something as sublimely awesome as this?

Not surprisingly, it’s Robert Smigel, the genius behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. He co-created Comedy Central’s “TV Funhouse” with Dino Stamatopoulos, who like Smigel was a longtime collaborator on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.”

The show is a spinoff of the “Saturday TV Funhouse” sketches that are pretty much the best part of “Saturday Night Live” these days. The Comedy Central incarnation ran from 2000 to 2001, giving us eight episodes laced with humor that is at times wildly inappropriate, which makes it that much better.

The format parodies a typical children’s show, beginning with host Doug rushing out to a street vendor to buy costumes for that day’s theme (Astronaut Day, Mexican Day, etc.). Doug is joined in the studio by the Anipals, an assortment of puppet characters who don’t have much time for Doug or his lame activities. So in every episode, the Anipals head off on their own adventure to get drunk and get laid while dealing with animal versions of human problems. It’s the epitome of low-brow, and the crudeness of the puppetry only adds to the effect.

Another Anipal, a dog named Xabu, spends all his time on a futile Coyote-Roadrunner-esque attempt to capture his tail, even setting elaborate traps.

To pass the time, Doug introduces various sketches that lampoon cartoons and PSAs. One example is “Wonderman,” a parody of the old Max Fleischer Superman serials in which Wonderman uses his powers to find women for his alter ego.

Viewers who have a taste for that style of comedy should grab this DVD along with the Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and SNL: The Best of Saturday TV Funhouse DVDs and laugh a weekend away.

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