Difficult People: Patches – Special (Review)

Julie and Billy in Difficult People

Difficult People in “Patches” tickles the funny bone more than usual. While Billy learns that he is not a “type” in his gay world, Julie learns that she is very special indeed over at Showtime.  After last week’s porn themed episode this  un-PC themed storyline was almost guiltily funny.

Julie and Billy get jobs as guest bloggers on Buzzlist; a website dedicated to lists.  (One of which Julie gets on by the end of the episode.) The actual “office” is a conglomeration of different websites. For example  one is called “wtf” and another “omg.”  The facility  includes partitioned office space for each blogger. Apart from writing lists, the job also entails writing sponsored posts.

The latest is one for Showtime; “Six Things to Look Forward to on Showtime.” One of these a casting call for a spinoff of The Affair.  Later, as Julie makes her basset hounds new “service dog” vests, Arthur suggests that they become domestic partners for tax purposes.

Julie refuses and Arthur gets angry. He tells Julie to make her own dinner. “How,” replies his girlfriend. Billy is turned away from a gay club as he does not fit into the categories they require. (The doormen first call him a “bear.”) He then learns that his apartment has been quarantined because of ebola.

Billy and Julie  settle in at Buzzlist and begin writing their list articles and Julie gets an audition for “The Tryst” (The Affair spinoff.) The audition notes that the show is “premium cable so adjust your performance accordingly.” She and Billy discuss what this may mean and he says “not American.”

Julie decides to do an Australian trying to do an American accent “with all those hard “r’s” like all the other “English and Australian actor’s do.” She also decides to bring her service basset hounds to the audition. The dogs are banned from the communal service animal area after eating another writer’s rabbit.

She goes to the audition and reads for the part. Using her “accent” for the two casting directors Julie does not get cast for the role. However, the two women decide that Julie is mentally disabled.   They believe this because of her overacting and weird accent. The two small service dogs complete the illusion  and they arrange to have a part written for “special” Julie.

Billy ends up moving in with Marilyn as he cannot sleep in Julie and Arthur’s apartment or his brother’s.

Julie gets her “part” (four lines as a balloon seller named Patches) and she decides to keep doing the Australian playing an American accent the whole time.  Billy and Marilyn appear to be perfect roomies.

Everyone on the set believe that Julie is mentally disabled because of her accent and overacting. When she wraps the scene the casting director gives her a show jacket and a medal. A representative from Showtime; Abby (Ilfenesh Hadera) arrives and offers to treat Julie to a special dinner at her favorite restaurant Outback Steakhouse. 

Abby also tells Julie that  reporters will be at the meal as they want to tell them about “our Julie.” “I only had four lines,” Julie says and Abby replies that she got them more or less right.

At Buzzlist, Julie and Billy learn that they are no longer guest bloggers but have been hired permanently.  Kayla (Abby Elliott) then tells the two that she has a press event to attend and leaves. 

Billy gives Julie her old “cat” outfit before she leaves and Julie urges him to move out of her mom’s house.  As they talk she also realizes she needs to hold on to Arthur.

She and Arthur walk to the dinner at Outback Steakhouse and Julie agrees to be his domestic partner for tax purposes. She then gets hotdog water splashed on her outfit and changes into the “kitty suit.”  When Billy hears her accent, he realizes she sounds mentally challenged and tries to tell her.

Abby arrives with the reporters, one of whom is Kayla Julie’s  new boss at Buzzlist, and tells the press to meet their “mentally disabled” actress.  Julie immediately drops the accent and tries to explain.  “It’s not my fault,” she says, ” that talking Australian makes you sound mentally challenged.”

“You b*tch,” shouts the Australian Outback waiter, “Get out of my steakhouse!”

This episode of Difficult People was a series highpoint.  The end of the episode, where Julie learns the truth and loses her job at Buzzlist was excruciatingly funny. (The waiter’s reaction is beyond priceless.)

Watching this episode repeatedly in no way lessened the impact of the comedy of offer.  Like Hulu’s other original program, Difficult People is miles funnier in its second season.

The series airs Tuesdays on Hulu. Do not miss this one if you like to laugh.

CAST:

Guest starring Rachel Dratch as the casting director. 

Difficult People: Blade Stallion – Kosher Porn (Review)

Difficult People poster

How can you not love a show that features kosher porn, abusing interns and office squatting.  Add  a brilliant cameo by America’s most beloved documentarian Ken Burns and  “Blade Stallion” is a real winner. This episode of  Difficult People also features the splendid Fred Armisen  as Garry Epstein Billy’s older brother. (Apparently, Armisen shows up once a year in the series.)

As usual the episode opens with Kessler and Epstein complaining  about coffee houses that feature board games for “adults.”  It ends with Billy saying he has to watch his sister-in-law perform Yiddish poetry.

Arthur walks in on Julie masturbating to porn on the Internet. A truly funny scene with the sound of the vibrator grinding to a halt and Julie waiting for a split second after Arthur leaves to start again.  Things are awkward between the two later when she drops something off at  his office at PBS.

While she is there, Julie spies an empty office. She and Billy move in without checking with Arthur.  Julie’s mother is having issues with losing her patients. Marilyn drags her daughter  around New York to different museums.  They are attending them alphabetically.

Julie and Arthur take on one of Marilyn’s patient’s daughter’s, Ines (Mary Houlihan) as their intern. They team up on the kid and bully her relentlessly. Both explain about how she is paying her dues. 

Later Arthur and Julie share their interests in porn and end up having an argument. It seems that Arthur likes looking at women who resemble Julie and she likes to fantasize about NFL gang bangs.  They make up and Julie says they need to keep their porn kosher.

Billy tells his brother Gary (Armisen) that he should stand up to his wife and he does. After getting kicked out of the house, he moves in with Billy.  Unhappy, Billy goes to sleep in the empty office at PBS. Ines comes in and wakes him up.  As they talk an irate Ken Burns  comes in and kicks them both out of his office.

Marlyn is recruited to help get Gary and Rucchel  (Jackie Hoffmanback together again. She  intercedes at the poetry reading at Billy’s place of work. The two women get into an “excuse me” altercation with Marilyn finally getting the last “excuse me” in.

Rucchel complains that Gary never congratulated her for finishing college and while they diss her husband, he turns up and apologies. The couple get back together and Marilyn takes the credit.

Billy’s sister-on-law then reads her poem, “Dybbuk, Dybukk, Dybukk…” (Which rhymes with “Fib-buk.) The episode ends with Nate (Derrick Baskin) being recognized as “Blade Stallion” by Rucchel and Gary. 

Porn was the theme of this very Jewish episode.  Two jokes dealt with inappropriate sexual relations. The first was  a reference to an absence of 10 year olds: “Jared from Subway’s worst nightmare,” says Kessler in a brilliant aside. The second is Epstein snarling at Matthew (Cole Escola) “Why haven’t you drowned  in Bryan Singer‘s pool yet?”

The funniest scene in the entire episode has to be the “Conan” bit where Ines has no idea who Conan is, confusing him with James Cordon. “Is that supposed to be some kind of joke,” screams Kessler.  Very funny. Although Fred Armisen dancing was pretty darned  funny as well.

(Sidenote: Viewers who get the “Eve” reference should give themselves brownie points.)

Difficult People  has gotten so much funnier this season.  After a less than impressive first season, the show has reached new heights of humor. The series airs Tuesdays on Hulu.  Go and check out a show not afraid to poke fun at sex while keeping it kosher.

CAST:

Difficult People: Italian Piñata – Goodfellas and Big Hair (Review)

Italian Julie

Difficult People just shot into high gear by taking the mickey (poking fun at) New Jersey, Goodfellas and big hair in the episode of “Italian Piñata.” Show creator and star of the series Julie Klausner rocked as “Italian Julie” whose face kept getting more Trump-like as the episode went on (More orange? Get it?). The other sight gag in the episode was that   hair; it  got exponentially bigger each time she and Billy went back to Hoboken.

Billy is mourning “Coming Out Day” as he says all the new gays will get the pick of the crop.   Before that he and Julie give a truncated history lesson about the Stonewall.  She reveals that the  comedy tour rejected her.  A heavy girl at Billy’s workplace comes out to tearful parents and Billy is thunderstruck that the couple really did not know their daughter was gay.

Both Billy and Julie want to head over to Hoboken for the Kevin Smith Jorts  relaunch party at Hoboken.  Julie’s mother treats her to a free student haircut . She claims the new “do” makes her look like Melanie Griffith in the first half hour of Working Girl.”

Klausner then does a hilariously spot on imitation of Griffith’s character in the film, “I’ve got a head for business and a bod for cinnabons.  She tops by the flat and after stealing a big bit of cake learns that Arthur is the new PBS party boy.

Julie and Billy arrive a few hours early and bump into some Italian “Goodfellas” type women. Overweight, with big hair and bad skin, these three find Julie’s humor hysterical.  Suddenly Kessler feels a few kindred souls. She changes from Jewish Julie to Italian Julie.

Kessler is not the only one to  “live a lie” Billy decides to recreate himself as a new gay coming out.  He is interested in Joni’s brother who finds it incredibly “hot” that Billy has been straight for  35 years.

Arthur blows the entire year’s budget on  one party and the new Italian Julie helps out. She invites the next door neighbor to hold his kid’s birthday party at the PBS conference room. It is a “puppy” party but with kids.

Billy is coached by Joey (Mark Consueloson gay culture and he  explains that Madonna is out and Demi Lovato is in.   Joey wants to savor Billy’s first experience and after they talk about Judy Garland, and her daughters, who Billy claims to know nothing about, the two head out of the LGBT store.

Goodfellas Interlude:

Kessler does a voice over a’la Goodfellas while her new friends do each other’s nails and makeup.  On top of the re-creation of Karen Hill’s voice over in the 1990 Scorsese  film, Julie’s hair has gotten bigger and she is really starting to look like an Annie/Weird Al Yankovic clone.

Bring in the Clown:

Arthur introduces Gaby (Tracee Chimo) to her “puppy” party and all goes well till she sees the clown. Freaking out,  she turns to run and the clown as well as the kids in the party chase the screaming woman through the halls of PBS. Arthur is fired as the party boy, but ranks well with the “cool kids” at work. 

Meanwhile Back at the Plot:

Marilyn shows up and talks Arthur into rescuing Italian Julie from Hoboken. Meanwhile Julie and Billy are enjoying New Jersey hospitality until, as Billy goes to leave with Joey, Frank Sinatra starts singing “New York, New York” on the sound system.  Joni says that this is her favorite Sinatra song. Both Billy and Julie say, in unison, that they always felt it was more of a Liza Minnelli song.

Billy is caught out, as is Julie. Just as things start to turn ugly, Marilyn and Arthur come in, put a bag over Julie’s head that drag her out of the room.  Joni and her pals shriek that it must be an Italian Piñata party.

This  episode of Difficult People  hit almost all the right notes comically. The hair gag was brilliantly funny as was the ever increasing shades of orange that Julie sported in each new scene. (At one point Marilyn asks, “Are you tan or just dirty?”)

The purses literally falling off the back of a truck was a great sight gag, along with the others. The only unfunny point in the show was Billy’s co-wroker with the constant 9-11/Twin Towers one-liners.  (Some may find those amusing, we however, do not. Just saying)

Difficult People is, as pointed out in an earlier review,  miles funnier this season.  Klausner and Eichner have developed into an excellent double act while Urbaniak is straight man extraordinaire.

The series airs Tuesdays on Hulu.  Catch this one if you can as it is funny and clever; although not necessarily in that order. It is also a bit rough  (“F**k those c***s” ) but this makes the show that little bit   different.

CAST:

Difficult People: Hulu Sitcom Sans the Humor (review)

Jullie and Billie Difficult People
As either Edmund Gwenn or Edmund Kean said on their deathbeds “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.” Difficult People, Hulu’s new sitcom is the second new comedy to be released on an unsuspecting public sans humor. Another comedy miss Kevin from Work, the ABC Family sitcom that is premiering on August 12, seems to prove, along with Hulu’s Difficult People, that this adage is correct. Both show’s have “died” as apparently comedy is very hard.

While Kevin from Work tried too hard, Difficult People seems to put very little effort into their attempt at tickling the funny bone. On Hulu, both the pilot and the second episode are up for viewing. Following Kevin from Work‘s lead “People” is not filmed in front of a live studio audience, probably for good reason.

The show follows the daily interaction of Julie (Julie Klausner) and her gay BFF Billy (Billy Eichner) both are “aspiring” comics (according to IMDb) who are in their 30s and still trying to make it. American Horror Story‘s Gabourey Sidibe has a tiny role as Billy’s boss, at the cafe where he works, and Andrea Martin (Aunt Voula in My Big Fat Greek Wedding) plays Julie’s mother.

The two leads in Difficult People play characters who are essentially unpleasant and shallow. Neither one has a single redeeming quality and this should be funny. Unfortunately the whole thing feels flat and uninspired. Similar to the ABC Family sitcom, this new series is throwing everything into the mix to see what will fly. While not quite kitchen sink humor, it relies on a shotgun approach with an emphasis on underplaying what is basically underwhelming humor to begin with.

Both Eichner and Klausner have a background in comedy. Billy is a favorite on Funny or Die (home of iSteve and Between Two Ferns, et al) and Julie has several comedies under her belt. Both of these performers have, for all intents and purposes, come from YouTube; Google’s attempt at creating another version of television and neither performer is weathering the change of venue very well.

YouTube can, and often does, stretch boundaries of what is funny. The shows which become hits do so as a niche bit of entertainment. Shows like Johnny Dynamo; a scripted comedy/drama, worked extremely well and attracted big names in its second season. While this is a good example of what works, the series was not a sitcom and it seems that this genre of TV does not work well when produced on a YouTube template.

There are sitcoms that can be considered successful regardless of the Google template. Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell works and is very funny if not a little flat at times. Rick and Morty also works, but only just, although there must be a good amount of fans who like the series as it starts its second season on Hulu.

It seems that Hulu and ABC Family are attempting to pull in a YouTube savvy audience with these new sitcoms and missing the mark as a result. Difficult People may eventually turn into a competent comedy without flat and awkward performances by its cast. *Sidenote. Why Gabourey Sidibe is in this debacle is a mystery. Presumably as a CV (resume) filler or an attempt to learn comedy…

Difficult People is a definite miss, but at least it has company as the abysmal Kevin from Work also misses the comedy mark by a mile. Sorry Hulu, you need to head back to the drawing board and perhaps think seriously about leaving the YouTube formula alone for awhile.

Verdict: Give this one a miss.