The Comedians: Is FX's Satirical Comedy 'Gonna Be Good'?

Billy Crystal and Josh Gad star as fictionalized versions of themselves in TV’s latest Hollywood satire. But is it any good?

Truth be told, it’s hard to judge FX’s The Comedians after one episode. Then again, it’s not exactly encouraging that the pilot’s closing punchline is the reveal of a transgendered director as portrayed by perpetual guest star Steven Weber.

The series finds Crystal coerced into starring alongside Gad on a sketch show he initially conceived as a one-man vehicle. The City Slickers star isn’t excited about working with a modern-day comic who considers a man’s genitals the perfect punchline, while Gad’s only doing the show because he blew through his nonexistent 1600 Penn Season 2 money. The premiere focuses less on the day-to-day production of their 13-episode Billy & Josh Show and more on developing the non-chemistry between its two leads. Remnants of a supporting cast include Crystal’s “like” assistant Esme (Megan Ferguson, Hart of Dixie), the show’s head writer Mitch Reed (Matt Oberg, Hart of Dixie) and producer with a questionable intestinal tract Kristen Laybourne (Stephnie Weir, MADtv).

After beginning the half-hour at the tail end of their first tape night, the pilot goes back to Crystal’s first meeting with the (fictitious) head of FX. His pilot presentation — which finds him playing every part in a cringe-inducing reenactment of When Harry Met Sally‘s classic “O” moment — didn’t test well, and the only way the network will agree to move forward with the project is if he agrees to star alongside the former Book of Mormon standout. Their initial dinner meeting doesn’t go well (Gad greets the veteran comedian by telling him he’s seen so much of him recently on Starz Family), but that doesn’t stop either of them from agreeing to work together.

steven-weber-the-comediansThe dynamic duo later clash when Gad approaches Kristen about hiring a female director from 1600 Penn and Crystal insists on hiring the “great” Jamie Dobbs, who Kristen secretly had a fling with back in the ’90s. Jamie, of course, has since made an unexpected transition, leaving everybody speechless upon her arrival. As the pilot comes to a close, Crystal and Gad insist that the show within the show is “gonna be good” now that the former has hired the director of his choice and latter’s request for a woman at the helm has been met.

The first episode of The Comedians doesn’t leave much of a strong impression. The fictionalized version of Crystal is more jerky than it is funny, leaving the need for laughs on Gad’s shoulders. The satirical aspect and mockumentary aestheticism have both been done better before, but we’ll give the show another few weeks to find itself.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your take on FX’s less-than-bromantic comedy? Vote in our poll, then sound off in the comments.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Beth says:

    It was alright I guess, I’ll give it another episode or 2

  2. Damion G says:

    Holy Crap I can’t stop laughing!

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  4. TV Gord says:

    I think people who like Crystal and Gadd will like it well enough, but it felt as though it was something that could have be done 20 years ago. The humor was all stuff that I’ve heard before and it was done better by shows ranging from The Larry Sanders Show to 30 Rock.

    I think a lot of “big stars” who do these sorts of vanity projects don’t watch TV with any regularity, so they think they’re doing something new and unique.

    • rowan77 says:

      That’s how I felt, too. So many jokes were old and fell flat. The idea of a beloved comedian being an A-hole when the camera’s off is so old hat, it just felt stale, and who couldn’t see the plotline unfold from a mile away? Both Billy and Josh deserve better. And judging from this and his last show – Josh needs new TV agents because all they’re bringing him is crap.

      • TV Gord says:

        You’re so right about Josh (Gad, sorry about misspelling his name earlier; I guess I was thinking of drummer Steve Gadd.)! He’s been so brilliant on Broadway, but this show and 1600 Penn have not used him very well.

    • The Beach says:

      I agree. This show felt really dated, the jokes were stale and not funny. I won’t be back.

  5. Mike says:

    I’m thinking that a lot of this stuff really happened when the real series was pitched to these two.

  6. Alan Ramsey says:

    Gad is the weak link here. A more combative comedian (Bill Burr, Daniel Tosh, Todd Barry, Tig Notaro)was needed to go nose to nose against Crystal’s character and his pompous attitude about comedy. An example would have been railing against Crystal’s character firing Larry Charles, and saying that he’s the only reason I’m doing this crummy show.

    • S. says:

      You completely missed the point of this show then. Josh Gad’s a different generation both as a person and as a comedian than the people you named. He’s also a different personality type and not supposed to go toe to toe with “Billy Crystal” the character. You’re gonna get more nice to the face but passive aggressive behavior from a guy like this. And Josh Gad’s character would never say Larry Charles was the reason he was doing the show. He was perfectly happy to look for another director and his reason for doing the show was Billy anyway, not Larry, and even then it was sort of superficial attachment. It doesn’t really make sense for Josh’s character to be obsessed with working with Larry anyway. I’d imagine the type of person he is would’ve been read a list of Larry’s accomplishments (many of which he won’t have seen) and he’d get that he’s supposed to be impressed and would muster up an appropriate level of enthusiasm. By the way, nobody’s ever said Josh Gad is the weak link in anything. He didn’t get a Tony nomination for Book of Mormon by accident. The only reason he didn’t win that was his costar Andrew Rannells and he split the vote.

  7. SLP says:

    At least I wasn’t expecting much…because the first episode didn’t give much. Where was the funny or interesting? There was nothing in the 1st episode that will get me to watch any more. How can FX justify giving this show any episodes and had to think about a season 2 for Tyrant? Makes no sense!

  8. Susan says:

    Lots of talented cast members, looking forward to what comes next

  9. Steve says:

    Is this show suppose to be funny, because it’s not.
    Two or more people acting like ‘A’ holes is not funny, it’s just lame.
    The only funny part was when a male actor enters, dressed as a woman.
    One laugh… Good for him for having some.’ balls’ as an actor.