As I reported a while back, popular voice actor and local indie comedy stalwart H. Jon Benjamin got his own show and it premieres tonight (June 15) on Comedy Central. Here’s how the old grey lady described Benjamin’s show in this Sunday’s Arts and Leisure section:
“Jon Benjamin Has a Van,” a kind of cracked parody of “On the Road With Charles Kuralt,” has its premiere on Comedy Central on Tuesday, and Mr. Benjamin’s so prominent in it that he’s been painted, reclining nude with angel wings, on the side of its titular vehicle. The show posits him as a reporter cum joker, mixing satirical newsmagazine segments with street scenes in which he bedevils passers-by. (In one he tells victims he needs just a minute of their time, then stands silently for precisely 60 seconds.)
But the centerpieces of the show are sketches that cleverly unravel, filling the second half of each episode with long, absurd narratives starring billionaires dressed as hobos, drug lords with passport problems, and thimble-size gangsters (who live, natch, in Little Little Italy). These detours make the show something more interesting than a fake-news or prank-show clone, and, Mr. Benjamin said, they were a surprise to the network. [NYTimes.com]
Jon Benjamin Has A Van premieres on Tuesday, June 14 at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central. A second all-new episode of JBHAV will air on Wednesday, June 15 at 10:30 p.m.
Not to be outdone, another indie comedy legend is returning with Season 2 of his successful cable show next week. Louis CK‘s semi-autobiographical felliniesque “sitcom” Louie premieres on June 23 on FX. Here’s what NYMag had to say about the show and the now much sought-after “Louis CK” deal:
Television showrunners are notorious multitaskers, with the most successful able to toggle easily between the roles of CEO and auteur. But Louis’s work on Louie requires a whole different level of personal oversight. The show is based on his life. Louis is the director. He’s also the only writer, the sole editor (he no longer shares duties with the co-editor he had last season), not to mention the person who oversees music (when the music guy’s budget ran out, he decided to do it himself). He also hired his own casting team: Last season, he turned down FX’s offer to help out and doesn’t inform them about casting in advance. But perhaps the most unusual aspect of the show is that Louis C.K. gets no notes from the network during filming, no script approval—an unheard-of “Louis C.K. deal” that has made him the envy of comics and TV writers alike. It’s a situation Louis is not taking for granted.
“No one on the planet Earth has what I have right now,” he says in his trademark tone—a deadpan delivery that somehow manages to sound at once bleak and exhilarated. “No one ever has. And I don’t know that I ever will again.” [NYMag]
Last but not least, Elijah Wood‘s Wilfred, perhaps the weirdest looking new show of the summer season also premieres on June 23 on FX, right after Louie.
Wilfred is a half-hour, live-action comedy about “Ryan,” a young man struggling unsuccessfully to make his way in the world until he forms a unique friendship with “Wilfred,” his neighbor’s canine pet. Everyone else sees Wilfred as just a dog, but Ryan sees a crude and somewhat surly, yet irrepressibly brave and honest, Australian bloke in a cheap dog suit. While leading him through a series of comedic and existential adventures, Wilfred the dog shows Ryan the man how to overcome his fears and joyfully embrace the unpredictability and insanity of the world around him. [FXNetworks.com]
Watch promo clips from Jon Benjamin Has a Van, Louie and Wilfred after the jump.