[15 April 2011]
When The Whitest Kids U’Know premiered back in 2007, it was an amusing, occasionally hilarious sketch comedy series that showed a lot of promise. Anchored by head writer Trevor Moore’s comedy songs, the sketches ranged from full-on gross-out humor to commentaries on daily life to complete absurdities. But the comedy was undermined by a lack of punch-lines and, frequently, a tendency to go on too long. Unable to overcome these issues, over subsequent seasons, the show has become a study in gradually diminishing returns.
And so The Whitest Kids U’Know limps into its fifth and final season. Once again, Moore is central to the show. As an actor, he has a difficult time coming across as anything but a jackass, with his face limited to two expressions: eye-rolling exasperation and unconvincing wide-eyed innocence. But as a songwriter and singer, his arrogance is actually helpful. For this new season, he delivers “Old Folks Home,” a story song about a group of bored teens forced to visit their grandparents in a nursing home. The kids are delighted to discover that the senior citizens have powerful prescription drugs. In exchange for spending time and getting to know the old folks, the teens are get high as often as they want on Oxycontin and Vicodin.
Other sketches have sparks of comedic ideas that never quite pay off. A bit involving Moore as composer John Williams is amusing for a while; Williams is always singing melodies to himself in the shower, the drive-through, and elsewhere. He eventually annoys his wife to the point that she declares that anybody can do what he does… and then the piece devolves into an unfunny sing-off with the couples’ bored son forced to be the judge. Another sketch has a husband arrive home to find that the family minivan is scratched. When he confronts his wife, she starts shuffling backwards, claiming she can’t answer because she’s being carried away by a horde of ants. I laughed when the husband said, “Ohhh no! I’m not falling for that again!” But then the sketch just peters out, as the kids try the same excuse and the father stalks down the sidewalk after his still-shuffling wife. The troupe’s most aggravating habit remains this inability to finish a funny idea.
It would be tempting to give the Whitest Kids a pass on the outright bomb sketches if these weren’t so darn bad. The Season Five premiere kicks off with a phone sex ad for “Baked Beans.” Played by Timmy Williams, he’s an ugly transvestite who likes getting baked beans tossed all over him. It certainly isn’t much of a phone sex parody, and lines like “I’m available for Bar Mitzvahs. Yeah, I said it, ‘Bar Mitzvahs,’” and “You must be this tall to ride Baked Beans… psych!” don’t even approach humor. An infomercial parody for a special semen-cleaning cloth called “The Jizzle” is similarly forced, setting up lame masturbation gags and opportunities to show copious amounts of a semen-like substance on television.
Season Five’s saving grace may be the troupe’s attempt at a long-form narrative, titled “The Civil War on Drugs.” Running the last five to 10 minutes of each episode, the sketch follows a couple of 19th century slackers in Virginia—Trevor and Sam—who inadvertently end up as Confederate soldiers. While not every joke works, a lot of them do, and that often helps to keep the individual episodes afloat. One of the bumblers nicks his father’s arm with a sword, which turns into a running gag about the father’s increasing infection problems. Or again, the pair thinks they’ve organized a “protest rally” at a local field, only to be flabbergasted when they arrive and find the field engulfed in the Battle of Bull Run. And another bit, where Trevor repeatedly learns how little he knows about his supposed best friend, is a winner.
As always, though, watching The Whitest Kids U’Know is more often an exercise in frustration than laughter. Again, it’s thiiis close to being truly funny, but it usually doesn’t get there. And since this is the