Beginning with The Hangover in 2009, Zach Galifianakis has carved out a healthy film and TV career by playing The Hapless Oddball time and again.
In his rookie FX comedy Baskets, which debuted Thursday night, not much about Galifianakis’ formula has changed, except for the fact that he’s now playing two misfits instead of one.
The first eccentric character is Chip Baskets, the show’s man-child protagonist, who is chasing his dreams of becoming a professional clown with little to no success. Forced to drop out of his schooling at Europe’s Académie de Clown Français, Chip is now attempting to make ends meet as a rodeo clown. (If you’re wondering how well that’s going for him, look no further than the scene in which Chip is mowed down by a bull halfway through an odd interpretive dance routine.)
Then there’s Dale Baskets (also played by Galifianakis), Chip’s slightly more successful twin brother who runs a career college… where you can major in something like “ice cream truck painting.” Follow your dreams, kids!
But Thursday’s series premiere focuses mostly on Chip, who suffers one misfortune after the next: His beloved French scooter is scratched up in an accident. His mother (played by comedy vet Louie Anderson, in a way that feels surprisingly non-gimmicky) continuously talks down to him. He’s forced to live in a motel since the rodeo gig only pays $4 an hour.
The only glimmer of hope for Chip is his newfound friendship with insurance agent Martha (Martha Kelly), who chauffeurs Chip around town while his scooter is under repair. Their bond is a peculiar one — “I meant to tell you the other day that I lost my virginity in this motel,” Martha tells Chip after seeing his living arrangements — but by the end of a very unlucky 30 minutes, Chip is in no position to turn down a friendly face.
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