Billy Crystal and Josh Gad toy with age gap in “The Comedians” on FX – The Denver Post

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Two Jews walk into a bar …. There’s no punchline. It’s a silly, sentimental episode of “The Comedians” in which Billy Crystal and Josh Gad sing karaoke in L.A.’s Little Tokyo and reminisce about aging, family and the nature of comedy. Crystal ends up giving a history lesson on Oliver and Hardy. What’s funny is their interaction.
The generation gap provides the crux of a comedy collaboration by Crystal (old-school Borscht Belt) and Gad (youthful Broadway) that is by turns gently narcissistic, occasionally gross and musically inclined.
“The Comedians” premieres April 9, locally at 11 p.m. on FX.
A traditional backstage showbiz comedy with sketch comedy elements, “The Comedians” imagines the two co-starring and sparring in a network late-night gig. Each half-hour is set behind the scenes at the show, with writers, director, assistants, guest stars and network suits meddling in the process, with a filmed sketch or musical number included. Crystal portrays a version of himself as a veteran comic forced by the network to work with a younger, edgier talent, Gad.
Based on a Swedish series, the format allows for a live audience and a wide range of character bits. Gad in a diaper, Crystal leaning on a cane, the pair of them crucified on crosses, playing a gay pitcher and catcher, or as Rhett and Scarlett in a “Gone with the Wind” skit… Crystal has said it feels like a return to his “Saturday Night Live” days.
Whether striding together in sailor suits a la “On the Town,” getting stoned before an awards show and giggling through a grocery store, or performing a number by the composers of “Frozen,” the old and young neo-vaudevillians “Billy and Josh” bring a cheerful innocence and well-worn shtick to the project, alternately resenting and respecting one another — while name-dropping their real-life awards and credits along the way. (Younger viewers know Olaf in “Frozen” and Elder Cunningham in “The Book of Mormon,” but the throwaway lines may send them scrambling to catch up on Buddy Young Jr. in “Mr. Saturday Night” and Jodie in “Soap.”)
Guest and supporting players include Mel Brooks as himself; Dana Delany as Crystal’s younger, yoga-practicing wife, and Steven Weber as Jamie, an old director friend of Crystal’s who has transitioned to female since they last saw each other. Stephnie Weir (“MADtv”) plays their anxious, insecure producer.
The 13 episodes are fun, not groundbreaking, but slickly produced and accented with musical comedy.
Like the two stars, the series is endearing, loud and desperate for attention, but ultimately a love letter to comedy and comedy history.
Joanne Ostrow: 303-954-1830, or
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