WEB EXTRA: Bare bones: new show has nudity, not much else

“The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show” is being heavily promoted on Comedy Central these days. You may have seen clips of David Koechner (pronounced Kech’ner in Iowa) (“Anchorman”) wrestling a bear aside an 18 wheeler while an elderly man in the nude (Dave ‘Gruber’ Allen, “Freaks and Geeks”) watches on in disapproval. After speaking with the hosts, my hopes for the show were high; expecting to see a pithy, on-point practice in mockery, poking fun at America’s soft spots (that big ole’ belly of ours) in a thoughtful way. Now, I can’t say I’m not disappointed.

The show originated as a largely improvised and musically laced stage act in the Hollywood club Largo. Translated to TV, the half hour (actually, 21 minute) show is structured as a standard sketch comedy show, with most of the camera time devoted to the two hosts T-Bones and the Naked Trucker.

T-Bones (Koechner) is a beer-bellied slackjaw who likes to crack profound, if possible. Koechner says, “my character is trying to take power over every moment”-a power he uses to say and do a few somewhat ridiculous things that might be funny in a late-night state of mind. Popularly known as Champ Kind from Anchorman, Koechner is too silly and almost twitching in his forced delivery, succeeding mostly in making me uncomfortable (for him).

Dave ‘Gruber’ Allen is a skinny late Baby Boomer with a grey beard and guitar complimenting his freeborn manhood. The Trucker points out that “[the nudity] isn’t mentioned. We don’t even talk about it. And what it does is to show you right from the first second you see him, ‘this guy’s about freedom.'” It also shows the pointlessness prevalent throughout the show, leaving the audience to wonder, “Wait, why is he naked again?” Gruber plays the straight ‘Abbott’ to T-Bones clown ‘Costello’ in what Gruber hopes “is more of a deconstruction of those types of acts.” Gruber aspires to “make it smart. Trust your audience. And treat them with respect. It’s just a comedy, but I hope you see there’s a lot of levels going on all the time.”

However, this comedy seems just off the mark, lacking spark despite some conceivably controversial scenes and statements. In response to a question about the political correctness of some of the material, Koechner blurts out, “We do what we like.” He continues, stressing that they “are very careful about language, playing with satire on several different levels. On the one hand it’s a Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon, that silly and that dumb, but at the same time.referencing something serious.” If there is a serious message presented in this show, I believe I have missed it. While I certainly sympathize with the duo’s intentions, what they have mistaken for wit amounts to over simplified yet glorified cheap shots; easy jokes that take too long to develop. The conversational tone suffocates already obvious topics. Less than a minute into the debut broadcast I was struck with the profound sense that, ‘I get it already’. And that’s not good.

The show has already enjoyed a Will Ferrell cameo as the “Hitchhiker of the Day” and offer more promising guests to come. Koechner spills the beans, mentioning Jack Black and Kyle Gass from Tenacious D, Tim Turner from the ESPNClassic ‘Arli$$’, Steve Bannos from ‘Freaks and Geeks’ and Neil Flynn, The Janitor from the NBC (and Comedy Central) show ‘Scrubs’. Quality guest spots aside, this show is lacking pizzazz. The comedy is slow and uninspired, disappointing from what seemed to be such promising characters. Oh well, it is after all “just a comedy”. Unfortunately it’s just not that funny.

“The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show”, starring David Koechner and Dave (Gruber) Allen, airs Wednesday nights at 10:30 on Comedy Central. They will be performing live on January 27 on their home stage at the Largo in Los Angeles. A DVD titled “Live at the Troubadour” is in production.

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