“The Gorburger Show” on Comedy Central
For years Comedy Central executives have been trolling the internet looking for already formed ideas, ripe for plucking and placing directly on their network. Short-form internet shows like “Workaholics,” “Drunk History” and “Broad City'' are just a few of the comedy shows taken directly from YouTube and other sites and awarded healthy runs on CC. Now, the former Funny or Die digital program “The Gorburger Show'' pops by for a revival, giving Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programming block a run for its money in the super weird late-night show category.
“The Gorburger Show” ran for two whole seasons on the Funny or Die website (2012 to 2013) and kept its fingers crossed for an HBO pilot that never materialized. Comedy Central has now brought the series back for an eight-episode “first season.” The show features the now-ubiquitous actor/comic T.J. Miller (Office Christmas Party, “Silicon Valley,” Deadpool, all those Mucinex commercials) as the voice and puppeteer of the titular extraterrestrial. For whatever reason, this furry blue monster invaded Earth and took over a Japanese morning show. Now he welcomes guests, chats with celebrities, and occasionally kills and devours a member of the crew.
After two seasons of internet practice, Miller is obviously comfortable with this character. Since he usually plays only minor variations on his own stoner persona, the gruff and violent Gorberger counts as a small stretch for the comedian/actor. This giant, murderous Muppet likes to curse, is periodically seized by an uncontrollable bloodlust and has only cursory understanding of human culture. Like a lot of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim shows (since the breakout hit “Space Ghost Coast to Coast”), “The Gorberger Show” is an irreverent, occasionally raunchy, frequently surreal send-up of the talk-show genre. The show includes celebrity interviews, musical guests, strange games and other random happenings. Guests in this first season include Reggie Watts (who had his own oddball talk show parody with IFC’s “Comedy Bang! Bang!”), Dr. Drew, Larry King, Tig Notaro and Rob Corddry. Miller has a particularly good rapport with the comedians, who seem perfectly willing to improv along with this freaky alien character. The Comedy Central version adds a bit more of the Japanese variety show elements to the mix, giving us cooking segments, out-of-the-studio visits (to a sex doll factory, for example) and the occasional rude game show (“Art or Fart,” “Censor Time Nipple Game”)—all couched in an “Aren’t the Japanese weird?” air of cultural superiority.
Aside from its murderous, foul-mouthed host, “The Gorburger Show” doesn’t add a lot to the bizarro late-night talk show parody genre (“Between Two Ferns,” “The Eric Andre Show” to name a couple more). But it’s got a silly energy to it that just works. It’s like “ALF” crossed with “The Larry Sanders Show.” But meaner. And weirder. And in Japanese.