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 V.23 No.13 | March 27 - April 2, 2014 

Idiot Box

Cartoons in Your Head

“TripTank” on Comedy Central

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Adults love cartoons and comic books and video games and all manner of things once considered the sole bailiwick of kids. Only recently, however, has the entertainment industry stepped up and really started catering to the stunted adolescents among us. We’re adults, we have disposable income and cable TV, and we grew up on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”—pander to us! Give us nostalgic t-shirts, superhero porn movies and R-rated cartoon shows! Comedy Central—home to the groundbreaking “South Park”—has always been amenable to this sort of thing. And now the network is adding a hip, mature-yet-immature, late-night cartoon anthology to its post-“Daily Show” lineup.

According to Comedy Central publicity, “TripTank showcases animated shorts so volatile that they should come with a recommended dosage. Combining a range of animation styles and a diverse cast including Wayne Brady, Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Galifianakis, the show promises to offer all the euphoria of a potent hallucinogen without any of the puking.” Oversell to the hipsters much, CC?

Like FOX’s similar “ADHD,” “TripTank” tries to replicate the edgy, adult animation of Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” programming block (“Robot Chicken,” “Squidbillies,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Superjail!,” et al). Which, when you get right down to it, is just trying to replicate the edgy, adult animation of MTV’s old “Liquid Television.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

What we end up with on “TripTank” is a welter of odd, animated snippets: A third grade soccer team takes on a Mongolian horde; some aliens help an average dude through a breakup; Jesus makes a terrible mistake. As expected the show is rude and irreverent. Blood, cursing and masturbation jokes abound. Most of the shorts here are of the “one joke” variety. You can probably, for example, imagine the entirety of a commercial for “Pete’s Extreme Funeral Parlor” in your head. But at a mere minute or two per clip, a decent percentage of the jokes pay off. “Tiny Hippo” and “Cave of Sorrow,” for example, flip their scripts with maximum efficiency. The animation itself runs the gamut from junky Flash animation to ironic use of stick figures to ... slightly less junky Flash animation. Face it: You’re not gonna run into the next “Aeon Flux” here.

From the looks of the pilot, there won’t be many recurring characters or segments, which is just as well. Interstitial segments in which the office staff of “TripTank” is harassed by random callers doing low-rent improv comedy (mostly cursing) will probably stick around. Unfortunately. It’s kind of a waste of time. This show only works when it keeps things fresh and fast-moving and doesn’t linger on the clunkers.

“TripTank” is definitely the kind of show best watched while half drunk or fully stoned. Which sounds like the perfect way to spend your Wednesday nights.

“TripTank” premieres Wednesday, April 2, at 11:30pm on Comedy Central.

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