|Here's the premise of this new ani series: Two wisecracking, precocious babies watch very short cartoons on TV that illustrate stand-up comedy routines from such performers as Denis Leary, Jay Mohr and Janeane Garofalo. The result is a sampler that just doesn't have a lot of oomph.
The babies (referred to as shorties) serve as emcees of recycled, brief "shortie" comedy bits that visually play out what the comics are saying. This only serves to confirm that watching a good comedian performing live is infinitely more interesting than a cartoon narration.
Yes, there are some funny bits that almost satisfy, though they'd work better if expanded -- notably Richard Jeni's tale of lobster angst as the fearful crustacean awaits the cooking pot and Elon Gold's spoof of a big Hollywood awards ceremony for the world's best religions. Visually, however, the cartoons have an intriguingly ingenuous style.
As with Comedy Central's hit "South Park," the two youngsters (comedians Nick DiPaolo and Patrice Oneal) are deliberately potty mouthed. But the comic duo is not as outrageously funny or compelling as the "South Park" characters as they riff between cartoons and comment on contemporary politics and behavior.
The cartoon vignettes, which offer more misses than hits, also boast blue, push-the-envelope material: defecating athletes and allusions to overly worn-out body parts.
The series was created by Jim Serpico, Tom Sellitti and animator Eric Brown.
Serpico, who executive produces along with his partner, actor-comic Leary, says in press materials: "We plan to do for stand-up comedy what music videos did for music."
However, the MTV generation learned to dig the visual addition because it drove home the personalities and look of the bands; plus, each song is complete in itself. A stand-up comic thrives on the variety of his or her jokes and gestures, not just on a single one-liner.
Much more interesting would be having the comics spoof existing cartoons or creating new bits that are complete stories in themselves.
By Michael R. Farkash