Doug and the "Anipals" introduce animated segments, short videos and other wacky clips. Meanwhile, the other 'Anipal' puppets go on wacky adventures through the city.Doug and the "Anipals" introduce animated segments, short videos and other wacky clips. Meanwhile, the other 'Anipal' puppets go on wacky adventures through the city.Doug and the "Anipals" introduce animated segments, short videos and other wacky clips. Meanwhile, the other 'Anipal' puppets go on wacky adventures through the city.
Season Reviewed: Complete Series (1 season)
Robert Smigel, the voice of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, spins off his shining diamond in the rough 'TV Funhouse' animated shorts from Saturday Night Live into his own sketch comedy show for Comedy Central. The title couldn't be more appropriate, as the show is a brightly colored carnival ride through the absurd, the sick and the twisted in Smigel's mind now given free reign for a full 22 minutes. It is delivered to us like a full-length children's television show. Doug (Doug Dale) is our gosh darn, sweet as sugar host, always coming to us in ridiculous get-up of whatever theme day today's show is about - Astronaut Day, Hawaiian Day, Western Day, etc. His puppet pals are the AniPals and include a turtle, a chicken and his chicks, a dog who does nothing but chase his tail with malicious intent and Triumph himself. We follow the AniPals into their world and out of the studio as they discuss all manner of foul things and get into all kinds of wacky situations.
It's pretty well known at this point that what Comedy Central finds funnier than anything in the world is not a well timed comedy of errors or witty naturalistic dialogue, but nothing more than scatological vulgarity - especially when it is juxtaposed against a backdrop as wholesome as a kid's show. Swearing puppets? Comedy gold to them. Despite this autopilot programming, they actually stumbled onto something with this show. 'TV Funhouse' is actually funny. It works because the show doesn't tip it's hand and ironically snicker at itself, but plays it's cornball set-up with a poker face. Smigel doesn't spare us from anything crude here, making ample use of projective vomit, novelty poop, hair balls and - in a particularly disgusting segment - Terrance the snake hacking up a mystery item that he ate that day. But Smigel does it all with a giddy smile. He splatters the walls with that wit, edge and feverish enthusiasm that make his 'Ambiguously Gay Duo' or 'Fun with Real Audio' segments on 'SNL' such a hoot. His dead-pan animated segments were the best, featuring such things as 'Wonderman' whose soul goal was to save only beautiful women and get his alias some action and 'Sted-Man' in which Oprah's live-in boyfriend Stedman haplessly pretends to be a CIA agent to avoid commitment.
Most amazingly, 'Funhouse' is able to keep it's pace up at a funny pitch almost the entire 22 minutes. There are dud skits here and there, but any attempt at sketch comedy series in primetime is wrought with dead spots and minefields. The disaster that was 'The Dana Carvey Show' proved that even the most talented comic can't keep every sketch in each episode hysterical. So Smigel hits more than he misses, particularly compared to most shows. That is quite an achievement in this genre. Disgusting, fitfully funny and lined with pointed commentary. I can imagine that if this type of offbeat crude comedy is ever going to get appreciated as a kind of post-modern art it would have to be from Robert Smigel leading the charge. I'd follow him.
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- Jul 25, 2004