S#*! My Dad Says
What is the deal with sitcoms nowadays? There’s no punch line or pay off to finish a joke, which is unfortunately the problem with S#*! My Dad Says. There’s plenty of set up but it rarely goes anywhere. Something about having a laugh track seems to keep writers from actually writing something funny. If the laughs are coming regardless of what you write, what’s the point?
Perhaps the problem with S#*! My Dad Says is the same problem that every multi-camera sitcom has: how can you combine the quick-witted and subtle humor that modern television audiences have grown to appreciate with the slower live performance of theatre? How can you simultaneously play to a close-up and the last row?
This conundrum may be the root of the show’s all-over-the-place humor. A line is either painfully obvious, followed by a disproportionate amount of canned laughter or isn’t a joke at all. The cast seems to be over-acting half the time and waiting around for their line the rest of it.
Seinfeld managed to avoid this problem by having a great ensemble cast that catered to different needs. Elaine, Kramer, and George traded big for subtle, depending whom the focus was on, and Jerry grounded everything by staying consistent. Together they created scenes that worked on several levels and didn’t insult the audience’s
intelligence. S#*! My Dad Says is full of slightly kooky nothings forcing stock jokes through slow and obvious set-ups. A talented cast for sure, but the characters have no depth and no bite.
It seems ridiculous to compare a show to its source material, when that source material is a Twitter feed, but the beauty of the Twitter was its sharp out-of-left-field quickness. The show plays like an edited-for-television version, but whereas the Twitter feed only needed 140 characters to get a joke out, the show has approximately 22 minutes and still rarely manages to be funny.
At its best S#*! My Dad Says gets away with some funny moments through coy self-awareness. In one episode, Ed, played by William Shatner, makes a quick aside about how nobody does a good impression of him, providing a clever wink-at-the-audience laugh. But those moments are few and far between. Mostly the jokes focus on someone’s makeup looking silly or Ed saying something clearly offensive and refusing to apologize. The show doesn't capture the Curb Your Enthusiasm-esque commentary on societal norms, instead falling into the “look at this asshole” sort of comedy. That’s mainly because Ed is an asshole. And sometimes an asshole can be funny, but mostly you just can’t help but wonder why you’re sticking around watching them.
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