Sunday, June 14, 2009
CLIP SHOWDOWN: tosh.0 vs. Web Soup
In the past few weeks, two new clip shows focusing entirely on garbage from the internet popped up on cable: Comedy Central’s tosh.0, a direct ripoff of The Soup, starring up-and-coming comedian Daniel Tosh, and Web Soup, an officially sanctioned, Joel McHale-endorsed spinoff of The Soup, hosted by up-and-coming comedian Chris Hardwick. It’s buried in deep cable on G4 TV at 9pm on Sundays.
They are, effectively, the same show; snarky comic stands in front of a greenscreen and mocks Youtube clips both fresh and not-so-fresh. There are some differences; Tosh’s show obviously has a bigger budget, so in addition to viral video mockery they do a weekly remote bit where they track down some viral superstar (Afro Ninja, Miss South Carolina, et al) and give them a chance to “redeem” themselves. Last week they introduced a new segment, ‘celebrity video’, which for now is a series of short comedy videos by lovable veteran character actor David Koechner. Web Soup is a bit more spare and directly follows The Soup’s format, with a few sketches here and there, but it’s pretty straightforward; video plays, Hardwick cracks a joke, and on to the next one.
So naturally, since the shows are so close in format and intent, they’re going to live or die based on the strength of their respective hosts, and it’s here where one of these shows works and the other doesn’t.
Simply put, Daniel Tosh just isn’t that likable. He has this constant smug smirk and dresses in a hoodie and an ironic tee-shirt, like the smug smirking hoodie-wearing college roommate you had that wouldn’t stop forwarding you mildly amusing YouTube videos. His show seems to be centered around him more than the content itself – the remote bits play out exactly like the sort of remotes you’d see on Conan O’Brien or Jimmy Fallon, except Tosh doesn’t have Conan’s timing or his sense of absurdism nor Fallon’s self-deprecating manic energy. So basically, it’s your smug smirking hoodie-wearing college roommate trying to be zany around faded internet superstars. It’s not terrible, but isn’t very appealing. Not only that, but Tosh’s delivery is a little flat – he seems very self-amused.
Not to rag on the guy too much – obviously he has an audience that appreciates his stage personality, and his fans will probably love what he’s doing here. It just isn’t my particular brand of vodka – I probably wouldn’t like a clip show hosted by Dane Cook, either.
Hardwick’s show, by comparison, is much funnier and sharper. The jokes are fresh, the format is familiar (being officially sanctioned by McHale helps; Tosh’s show has the “we totally stole this concept” stink on it), and Hardwick himself is a much more likable host. He’s sarcastic without being annoying, leaves the smugness at the door and goes for genuine laughs rather than banal snark. The show has the same “we’re shooting this on a budget of $4 and a handful of bottle caps and we’re doing the best we can with that” vibe that McHale’s show has, and as a result, it’s more comfortable and loose. They also seem to have a lot more freedom in terms of what they cover, meaning they can show you some incredibly gross (and hilarious) stuff that likely wouldn’t make it into a show that’s on during primetime on Comedy Central. Thankfully they also have a short ‘palette cleanser’ bit that features some adorable animal or whatever to scrub the gross out of your brain before moving on. All in all, the format works, and Hardwick was a perfect choice to host.
Final Verdict: Web Soup works, tosh.0 doesn’t, for now. Check out the former here.