Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sports Show With Norm Macdonald like extended Weekend Update

     It looks like Comedy Central is trying to expand its talkshow lineup. With the success of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report dominating one hour four nights a week, Comedy Central tries to put other shows like them, but not too much like them, in the ten thirty slot from time to time. The highest rated so far is Tosh.0, which has run for several seasons. The Onion SportsDome isn't as timely, but still pretty funny. Now, comedian Norm Macdonald tries his hand with Sports Show With Norm Macdonald, which in its debut episode, proved it can hang with its peers.

     Rather than smash other series in at 10:30 on weekday nights, though, wouldn't it make more sense to build a solid Friday nights eleven to midnight? That way Comedy Central could run original, fresh programming five nights a week. Norm could easily be a weekly thing almost year round, like Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are, with The Onion filling in the ten weeks or so a year Norm takes off, as its episode can be aired any old time. Tosh.0 could probably put up reruns on weeks it doesn't have fresh material, and a whole new must-see hour is born. Unless you don't like Tosh.0, because it is admittedly a terrible show. But it's popular, hence the suggestion.

     Norm begins the show by delivering fast-paced one-liners, a la Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update. Norm once held the Update chair, and he has not lot his touch at the job at all. He is witty, and only having to do it once a week, he can keep things fresh and exciting. This is the strongest segment of his show, running for the first ten minutes or so. The one-liners can be broken up with occasional longer bits, such as his "Wait, What?" where he shows a polar bear getting in the way of a skier, or his trivia contest where viewers are supposed to guess which one of six dancers is about to be hit by an ice-cream truck. The answer is obvious, but the humor still sails across just fine.

     In the second section, Norm left the studio to do a bit, much like The Daily Show often does. This week, Norm 'had makeup put on him to look like NBA star Blake Griffin'. It began with Norm in a makeup chair, then Norm provided voice while the real Griffin stumbled around looking foolish. Strange, yes, but also effectively funny. Griffin is a good sport, mouthing whatever words Norm wrote for him to mouth. The payoff at the end of the sketch isn't necessary, but works as a capper.

     The third portion consists of Norm standing in front of a screen like Tosh's opening or The Soup. This isn't quite as good as the first act, but does allow Norm to do longer jokes, such as "What the H". This week's topic of the bit is Tiger Woods. While the content may be slightly dated, as everyone got tired of making fun of Tiger months ago, Norm can be forgiven for doing it because his series has just premiered. It doesn't feel like Norm arrives late to the party, as he takes a different stand than almost any other comedian, siding with Woods. By the end of the joke, many audience members may have been swayed to agree with him. However, this could be in the first segment as well, so perhaps he should try doing an interview in place of a second run of short quips.

     The show ends with Norm doing 90 seconds of 'garbage', which is an apt term. The ending needs work. But not too shabby. While Norm's stand up may not be so fresh any more (his recent special is nearly unwatchable), he has proven he can still do something well. Hopefully, Norm will soon become a more permanent part of the Comedy Central lineup.

     Sports Show With Norm Macdonald airs Tuesday nights at 10:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.


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