We all do silly things from time to time, usually in private. Only a few would broadcast such moments to the world. A growing number of internet users are revealing themselves, singing to the cat or just watching TV. And one webcammer, Andy Milonakis, is entertaining enough to warrant his own TV show. At least that’s what Jimmy Kimmel thought, when he backed the The Andy Milonakis Show, the latest addition to MTV’s Sunday Stew.
Milonakis’ big hit on the internet was the rap “The Super Bowl is Gay,” a homophobic ditty recorded in Milonakis’ bedroom. He has adapted this same juvenile humor for TV, with a larger special effects budget (but not much larger, it appears) and celebrity guest stars (in the first episode, Lil Jon stops by for Fruity Pebbles). A rapid succession of unconnected scenes in which Milonakis does something weird or stupid, the show is both weird and stupid, the biggest waste of airtime since My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé.
The Andy Milonakis Show is ideal, however, for those with no attention span. There is no theme or point, or any need to stay focused. Seven scenes occurred before the premiere’s first commercial break, some lasting no more than a few seconds. Only one segment, where Milonakis recruited strangers on the street to audition for his play, was continued in a later segment, as the elderly woman who won the part performed the star’s sci-fi script for his parents.
MTV’s head of programming Brian Graden has compared Milonakis’ comedy with that of Pee Wee Herman (“How ‘Andy’ Stacks Up,” USA Today, 23 June 2005). But Herman’s shows (both stage and TV) took place in a fictional world, with clearly defined characters who had established relationships, and nothing about the show was malicious. That can’t be said of Milonakis, whose launches his warped sense of humor on something approximating a “real world.” He challenged elderly people to race him, calling each one a “bitch”; rapped about various people he passed heading to work; and ran up to strangers to ask, for instance, “Mrs. Jenkins, are you going to the carnival today?”
Milonakis takes great glee in accosting senior citizens especially; they made up about three-fourths of his victims. He looked overjoyed when he confused a woman trying to get home with her groceries or rapped about a businessman trying to work while sitting in the park outside his office building. Milonakis quickly drove the man back inside, then changed his rap to ridicule him for not wanting to be the butt of Milonakis’ song. Perhaps Milonakis targets the elderly because younger, fitter victims would beat the crap out of him.
Milonakis has described his own age as “between 10 and 30,” and because it’s hard to tell, just based on his appearance, it’s also hard to blame his antics on immaturity or cruelty. He looks like the kid who was picked on in high school, so it’s doubly disappointing to see him tormenting others. It’s telling that most of Milonakis’ stunts are solo. “Free the Fishies” has him buying a dozen or so goldfish in individual baggies, then throwing the bags into a pond. In “Burnt Toast,” he wrestles his toaster after it burns his breakfast. “My Wubbie” does feature his dog, who imagines various ways to kill his owner while Milonakis talks gibberish to him (I support the dog wholeheartedly in this fantasy).
If all this sounds unoriginal, we shouldn’t be surprised. The lyrics of the song that first garnered him attention indicate as much: “The Super Bowl is gay/Super Bowl/Super Bowl/Super Bowl is gay… Orange juice is gay/Orange juice raped my father/So that makes him gay.” Aside from the obvious redundancy, hate speech is hardly innovative. Though Milonakis claims he intends no social commentary, making an ass of himself just because he can is a kind of commentary, concerning privilege and class. The Andy Milonakis Show is sanctioned voyeurism; Milonakis’ performances differ little from what rebellious teens and disenchanted 20somethings are doing all over the country, usually inspired by a 12-pack of beer and a few tequila shots.
Even on MTV, Milonakis is more of the same (the network has a long history of voyeuristic programming, from The Real World to I Want a Famous Face to My Super Sweet 16). Still, Kimmel maintains that his 13-year-old daughter is such a fan of Milonakis that she begs to see the rushes before the show airs. This would seem the demographic for the show, too old to enjoy kiddie programs but too young to go out and create their own mischief. By the same token, most of those who find Milonakis funny now will outgrow it (in weeks, perhaps) and will move on to programming more representative of their life experiences.
The Andy Milonakis Show demonstrates again that in this age of reality TV, anyone can be a celebrity, however briefly. While a few of these stars have earned their temporary fame, by eating rats on a deserted island or outmaneuvering other wannabe Trump-clones, Milonakis has done nothing of note except act like he’s 12. That may make entertaining television for Jimmy Kimmel and his daughter, but for the rest of us, it’s more proof that inanity is replacing intelligence. If MTV wants to feature bad TV, it has an archive of awful music videos. At least you can dance to some of those.