Paul Casserly 's Opinion

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

Paul Casserly: Politically incorrect parenting shows

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A scene from comedian Louie CK's TV show Louie. Photo / Supplied
A scene from comedian Louie CK's TV show Louie. Photo / Supplied

When it comes to politically incorrect parenting shows, Nigel Latta may have had a decent crack, but Louis CK turned the concept into an art form.

While Latta's show may have delivered some very effective parenting advice, it was far from politically incorrect. In fact it was, in some ways, quite the opposite. Let's not forget the dreaded "irony light" - the warning graphic that ironically popped up whenever Nigel suggested something vaguely politically incorrect.

Presumably he feared that some less worldly viewers wouldn't understand the "irony" and might, I dunno, flush the kids down the loo after Nigel referred to them as 'little s**ts'. Or maybe they would think that three-year-olds were literally homicidal maniacs and send them off to camp with Garth McVicar.

Louis (Comedy Central, Tuesday, 10pm) on the other hand is actually politically incorrect. And surprisingly it's actually a kind of parenting show as well. The show's creator and star Louis Szekely, known professionally as Louis CK, made a career writing for the likes of Chris Rock, Letterman and Conan before ending up with his own show Lucky Louie on HBO. (An online geek has compiled his 10 best Lucky Louie moments here.)

The current Louie began on the FX network in 2010 and has become somewhat of a phenomenon ever since. It's one of the few shows where the star is also the writer, the director and the editor. If that seems like some sort of a control issue then it's obviously a disorder with a silver lining, because Louie is seriously good TV.

The premise is simple and familiar enough: A stand up comedian performs his shtick and then we cut to his real life. So far so Seinfeld. The main difference being that it's Seinfeld after the wife, the kids and the divorce. And these events flavour the proceedings as much as finding a car park or dealing with the Soup Nazi.

Along the way Louis will impart his own parental experiences - often with brutal frankness and incredible sweetness. He'll then un-sugar the latter with a salty zinger. A heartfelt riff on a recent episode about making new friends as a middle aged man concluded with a brutally explicit sexual reference that few others could get away with.

So if like me, you're a little comedically bereft following the conclusion of the sublime Girls or the ridiculously good Veep, Louis is essential. Girls was also packed with plenty of politically incorrect parenting advice and was the freshest breath of fresh air to breeze through the funny curtain in yonks.

If you haven't seen it then seek it out. I've heard complaints that Veep was too negative, or not as good as The Thick of It. To use some Veep-ese, these people are talking like "S**t Gibbons." I found myself extremely happy to strap in for the weekly roller coaster of political satire and office politics, often rewinding to take in the glorious script.

Like Dan's description of the Vice President: "She's mediocre. Of all the ocres she's mediest."

My favourite was that riff that followed Selina's discovery of the nicknames she's called behind her back: "Veep Throat, Vaselina, Viagra Prohibitor? It doesn't work? They are saying that a prescription medication that is guaranteed to sustain a strong and lasting erection in all men, despite their age or their health, is rendered ineffective by me?"

Naturally both Girls and Veep have been picked up for second seasons, although there's no word yet on a follow up to Hounds - the half-crazed, politically incorrect, local sitcom from the collective known as The Downlow Concept, that modern day Blerta Bus of talent and enthusiasm.

Never before has a more delightfully deranged ensemble cast been assembled in the creation of Kiwi comedy - with the possible exception of all those people that live inside Madeleine Sami.

With or without the dogs their next project can't come too soon. The Herald's own Chris Schulz is practically fizzing at the bunghole at the prospect of a second season.

Hounds has been replaced with the new hybrid Jono and Ben at 10 (Friday, 10pm, TV3), a shotgun marriage of Jono Prior and Ben Boyce presumably arranged because in these fiscally fiscal times there's only so much funding to go around.

The equation they're aiming for seems to be Pulp Sport + Hamish and Andy ÷ Letterman. Political incorrectness is also part of this late night recipe; hence the Benny Hill-like reference to Wendy Petrie's anus and an attempt to wring some laughs out of the Scott Guy Murder trial.

It's too early to say how many anniversaries they'll be celebrating just yet, but the highlights from the debut are very promising. And much of that promise is down to co-star Guy Williams. His musical turn at the Sonny Bill Williams farewell press conference was inspired. Introducing himself as Guy from Nelson, he blindsided the PR event - convened to announce SBW's departure - with an uplifting rendition of The Exponents' I'll Say Goodbye.

As you'd expect, the newly-weds, Jono and Ben, have good rock-jock chemistry, especially in the more live moments that incorporate Guy Williams. Hopefully they'll move on from some of the more Pulp Sport-inspired antics. Not that those antics weren't sometimes brilliant, it's just that that was another time and place, when Ben was still married to Bill.

That said, the parodies - trademarks of both Jono and Ben's previous shows - are among the highlights. Like Chopper Reid's cameo in the sand pit - a remake of that Mitre 10 ad with the kids talking like adults.

And then there's the show's opener, a superb take on that insurance ad where people dance down the street to the tune of Break My Stride.

It concludes with 7 Days host Jeremy Corbet driving into the scene, running over Guy Williams and delivering the best punch line of the night: "New show, same s**t jokes."

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Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly watched too much TV as a child.

It began with Dr Who, in black and white, when it was actually scary. The addiction took hold with Chips, in colour. He made his mum knit a Starsky and Hutch cardigan. Later, Twin Peaks would blow what was left of his mind. He’s been working in radio and TV since the 1990s and has an award in his pool room for Eating Media Lunch.

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