You know all those wacky viral videos your friends cop off the Internet and e-mail to you at work? Wouldn’t it be great to watch those again in the comfort of your own living room? ... What do you mean, “Not really?” That’s not the answer TV wants to hear right now. Realizing they’re free and plentiful, networks are cooking up a whole mess of shows featuring those short cellphone clips of people getting racked in the roundberries, puking up improper food products and doing weird things on foreign TV game shows.
Comedy Central recently joined the scrum with “Tosh.0,” a viral clip show hosted by low-energy comedian Daniel Tosh. In addition to showing off brief, badly shot videos you’ve probably already seen, Tosh adds a weekly “Web Redemption” for folks who have achieved Internet infamy (the bumbling stuntman known as Afro Ninja, mush-mouthed Miss South Carolina). Given how fast the Internet moves, most of the references are mighty dated. (“Afro Ninja” was originally posted on YouTube in January 2006!) Tosh is a funny enough guy, but his style (bemused detachment) makes it seem like he could care less about all this computerized bullshit. (Grade: C+)
Chris Hardwick, the host of G4’s “Web Soup,” on the other hand, seems like a genuine techie. Having hosted PBS’ “Wired Science” and the Gadget Pr0n segment of G4’s “Attack of the Show,” he can walk the walk as well as talk the talk. “Web Soup” is a spin-off of E! Entertainment Television’s popular TV-mocking clip show “The Soup” (formerly known as “Talk Soup”). Though it treads much of the same territory as “Tosh.0” (even cannibalizing some of the same viral videos), it’s faster and funnier thanks to Hardwick. It’s like the difference between watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos” with Daisy Fuentes and John Fugelsang and watching “America’s Funniest Home Videos” with Bob Saget. Night and day, man. (Grade: B)
The (believe it or not) third viral clip show to debut in just the last couple of weeks is MTV’s “DJ & The Fro.” The crudely animated cartoon is a blatant (and I mean blatant) attempt to re-create the success of “Beavis and Butt-Head.” Instead of two couch-bound idiots watching music videos, we’ve got two office-bound co-workers watching Internet clips. The clips aren’t even very interesting (two women kissing, a guy crying), and the running commentary is beyond useless. (It runs the gamut from “That girl’s hot!” to “This guy is stupid!”) The brief “story” segments between videos don’t hold a candle to the sly “bite the hand that feeds you” social commentary of “Beavis and Butt-Head.” “DJ & The Fro” is both incredibly lazy and colossally unfunny. (Grade: D+)
So, with three new viral video clip shows on the air, has this trend peaked? Hardly. On Friday, June 19, Logo network premieres “Jeffrey and Cole Casserole.” Yup, it’s yet another sketch comedy look at viral videos. Only this time, it’s got a gay slant. The mind boggles.