Sundays, midnight, Adult Swim
Captive audience: OFWGKTA followers; Jackass fans; people who prefer Tim and Eric-style humor when it’s done by black folk.
Moment of truth: There isn’t a show on TV that makes me laugh harder—and makes me kinda ashamed to admit I laugh at it—than this weekly, 11-minute clusterfuck starring hip-hop enfant terrible Tyler, the Creator and members of his Odd Future crew, now in its second season. A pile-up of absurd sketches, Jackass-style stunts and other random acts of ridiculousness, the show is blatantly—and proudly—silly. The season premiere, which featured appearances from formerly absent Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt, at least hints there will be more structure to the silliness this go ‘round.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Emmy. (Craig D. Lindsey)
Tuesdays, 10pm, Lifetime
Captive audience: Reality-show watchers; adolescent bad girls; pervs.
Moment of truth: This new reality show from Lifetime, which follows the wild lives of three teenage preachers’ kids, has gotten some negative reactions from irate preacher parents. My question: Can you blame them? It seems this show paints daughters of clergymen as sex-crazed nymphets. One is a former wild child who now has a baby, while another aspires to be a porn star. Even the least libidinous of the trio (who has a former wrestler for a preaching father) still wonders if you actually blow when you give a BJ. As shamelessly watchable as this show is, it still doesn’t do anyone any favors.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. (C.D.L.)
The Jeselnik Offensive
Tuesdays, 10:30pm, Comedy Central
Captive audience: Fans of dark humor; hipster-comedy nerds; people who miss Craig Kilborn.
Moment of truth: Cringe-humor comic/former Late Night with Jimmy Fallon writer Anthony Jeselnik is the latest smug, white-boy comic to get his own show on Comedy Central. (He’s on right after Daniel Tosh and his weekly snarkfest Tosh.0.) Much like in his dark-hearted stand-up, Jeselnik skewers sacred cows and tells jokes that go that extra mile to offend, usually with help from his guest comedian pals. Unfortunately, Jeselnik’s controlled comic style prohibits this show from exhibiting the off-the-cuff looseness it so needs. The most offensive part of this is that you hardly have a fun time watching it.
Emmy or phlegmmy: Phlegmmy. (C.D.L.)
Fela! National Tour
Wed., March 13, Merriam Theater. felaonbroadway.com
Overall vibe: There was so much to take in that there were honestly moments when I felt like I couldn’t soak it up! Some truly talented and brilliant people shone bright at the Merriam last week.
Most memorable moment: Let’s just go there: Michelle Williams was aiight. Love me some Destiny’s Child, but she was stiff as a board on that stage. She can sing. She’s got that gospeldelic instrument, and it’s pretty powerful in person. But she looked nervous, scared, carefully and gingerly making every calculated movement. When you’re on stage with an Antibalas-inspired band full of brass, African drums and extraordinary dancers spinning magic all around you, and it looks like you need a cocktail, something’s not right.
Scene stealer: Duain Richmond, who played Fela Kuti, was the glue that held it all together. Fela often wore next to nothing or skin-tight jumpsuits, and, if I’m being honest, I wasn’t NOT looking forward to that aspect of this production. And he did not disappoint. One of my favorite moments was when he lights up a fat joint, during a conversational interlude, and an audience member (whom I realize now was planted) shouted out “Pass that!” He says “You didn’t say the magic word,” and looks at his band who shout, in unison, “Puff puff pass!” The humor was not lost on this audience. It may be prearranged but for a minute, it felt totally spontaneous. (B.C.)
Flashpoint Theatre Company’s The Bends
Through March 31, the Off-Broad Street Theatre. flashpointtheatre.org
Overall vibe: Megan Mostyn-Brown’s tense dinner party, with just enough alcohol, information and passive-aggressive posturing among old pals to barrel toward inevitable disaster by dawn.
Most memorable moment: When Paul, played to gross-bro perfection by Charlie Del Marcelle, screams, “It was grayer in real life!”
Scene stealer: Megan Slater is positively mesmerizing as Lacey, a pot-stirring type all women will recognize as their ex-best frenemy. (Tara Murtha)
Isis Productions presents John Guare’s Landscape of the Body
Through March 31, Walnut Street Theatre. isisperforms.com
Overall vibe: Acting students in self-directed scenes from a class at HB Studios the moment before a renowned teacher like Austin Pendleton says: “OK, stop now! You have to do more with this John Guare script than committing it to memory and reciting it like a third grader reciting the Gettysberg Address. Don’t listen for your lines; listen to each other!” Unfortunately for us, Pendleton was not there to rescue this train wreck of a production.
Most memorable moment: Director Neill Hartley is a successful dialect coach when he’s not attempting to direct, but you wouldn’t know it after listening to Charles McCloskey portray New York City Police Capt. Marvin Holahan with a thick Northeast Philadelphia accent. Yes, dialects are only part of an acting performance, but in a John Guare play, dialects matter.
Scene stealer: When I bumped into Bill McKinlay, the production’s board operator and lighting designer, during the 15-minute intermission, I was tempted to yank his copy of the Landscape script, hop on the Walnut’s elevator and read it at home. This play resides in the same ranks of Guare’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated Six Degrees of Separation—that is, when handled by a competent theater company. (Jessica Foley)
Calendar: Sept. 30-Oct. 7