The web series is now a well-established route toward a full-scale television show, but how about the podcast? Three cavalier brothers from West Virginia are the latest to try that less-traveled trail. If you’re a fan of the audio incarnation — a bit of an acquired taste — the version with pictures will surely amuse.
The show is “My Brother, My Brother and Me,” and it begins streaming Thursday on Seeso. It stars Griffin, Travis and Justin McElroy, advice-giving brothers who have no business giving advice. After a nonsensical opening, each episode takes up a question from a fan — “How do I convince my wife to let me get a pet tarantula?” is one — that the brothers then riff on and deconstruct for half an hour while only kind of answering it.
That is also the essence of the McElroys’ podcast of the same name, which has developed a substantial following since they began it in 2010. The brothers are not the first podcasters to make the jump to television — Marc Maron, for instance, had a nice run with “Maron” on IFC. But this is not a scripted show that occasionally makes reference to podcasting; it’s more in the mold of “Comedy Bang Bang,” an effort to capture the improvised, without-a-net feeling of the podcast itself. It’s sloppy as heck, but it kind of works.
To tape the show, the brothers returned to their hometown, Huntington, W.Va., which apparently is full of residents who are nothing if not game. In an episode on how to pad one’s résumé, they get the mayor, Steve Williams, to proclaim them honorary mayors for one minute, so that their résumés can have a “former mayor” entry. Griffin is dismayed when Mr. Williams tells him, during his minute of “mayordom,” that abolishing the state bird is not within a mayor’s powers — wrong jurisdiction.
The show really hits its incongruous stride when the brothers take up a teacher’s question about how to get students to stop looking at their electronic devices. That leads to a visit to a high school and some ridiculously unsuccessful efforts to sell students there on the idea that the world outside of their electronic rectangles is worth exploring. The brothers’ ideas on how to reach teenagers are somewhat unsophisticated. Justin is convinced that turning his chair backward before sitting on it will establish his coolness credentials.
The show would be better if the brothers spent less time laughing at their own jokes, but over all it does a commendable job of translating the deadpan quirkiness of the podcast to the small screen. This series would pair nicely with Comedy Central’s delightful “Review,” a mockumentary about a critic who reviews life itself, which returns for its final season on March 16. Forget fake news; the ersatz reality of bogus critics and advice givers is the way to go.
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