The YouTube era is a strange one. Millions of people can now watch an idiot dancing, or, more frightening, a man cutting his penis off (as far as I know, this isn’t available on YouTube, but one can only hope). Hell, you can even watch a variety of videos of people reacting to the online video of a man cutting his penis off.
The YouTube era is a strange one. Millions of people can now watch an idiot dancing, or, more frightening, a man cutting his penis off (as far as I know, this isn’t available on YouTube, but one can only hope).
Hell, you can even watch a variety of videos of people reacting to the online video of a man cutting his penis off.
Thankfully, there is a TV show that distills the Internet Age, and the slacker milieu emanating from it, into a compact sketch program that is both funny, and, yes, topical.
Human Giant, an MTV sketch comedy show, doesn’t just parody the Internet by suggesting wang-chopping for online-fame–the show started on the World Wide Web. The three stars of Human Giant, Aziz Ansari, Rob Huebel and Paul Scheer, started making online videos of their own in 2006.
Before that, the three had some success individually. Aziz Ansari was quickly becoming known as the best comedian never to have appeared on television. But he did start to gain a cult YouTube following of fans who gobbled up his brand of nerdy-hipster humor, mixed with a heavy dose of hip-hop bravado.
Rob Huebel was a producer of The Daily Show, and a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade. Paul Scheer was best known as one of the talking heads on VH1’s Best Week Ever.
Soon, their sketch videos about an intense child-actor agency, Shutter Bugs, and a parody of Criss Angel took off, and MTV took notice. By 2007 the trio had their own show. They went from the bowels of Internet fame to working with Ghostface Killah and Patton Oswalt in a matter of months.
Human Giant’s biggest influence seems to be David Cross’ and Bob Odendirk’s skitactular Mr. Show, which aired from 1995 to 1998 on HBO. The shows both feature smart criticisms about the digital age we live in, with meta-skits that seem to fold in on themselves.
Human Giant is more topical than Mr. Show, as it decimates and parodies pop culture while avoiding the ham-fisted pastiche ubiquitous in movies (Epic Movie) and on other sketch comedy shows (I’m looking in your direction, Saturday Night Live).
Human Giant never achieves the heights of the iconic Mr. Show, but they certainly make a good go at it.
Human Giant is now in its improbable second season. Good comedy shows in this vein seem to have trouble staying on the air, especially on MTV, where the absurd, smart style of humor contrasts wildly with dating shows and Pimp My Ride. At the end of the first season, they almost did get chopped, but MTV offered them the opportunity to save their show. The deal was MTV would give the cast of Human Giant the airwaves for 24 hours, with the stipulation that the Human Giant Web site needed to amass 1 million views.
What followed was probably one of the best days in MTV history. The channel was solidly funny for the entirety of my viewing, and MTV finally displayed good music on the screen. Basically, hell froze over and MTV was entertaining for once.
At the end of the one-day marathon, Human Giant earned its second season by securing 1 million hits on its Web site. The Internet saved them yet again.
I’m just glad no one had to cut his dick off.