TV

‘Detroiters’ And The Value Of Being Unapologetically Silly

Comedy Central

Let’s talk about Detroiters, shall we?

Facts first:

  • Detroiters is a Comedy Central series that stars real-life best friends Sam Richardson (best known for playing Richard Splett on Veep) and Tim Robinson (best known for a stint on SNL) as fictional best friends named Sam and Tim.
  • They run a small advertising agency in Detroit and make low-budget local commercials.
  • Sam Richardson might be the funniest actor working in television and there’s a GIF of a fake menswear commercial at the bottom of this post that proves it.
  • Detroiters is one of my favorite television shows of 2018.
  • Detroiters is definitely the show I enjoy watching the most right now.

Let’s unpack that last thing. There’s something to be said for being silly. There’s a freedom to it once you give yourself permission to just sit back and enjoy it. You should do that every once in a while, be silly, and enjoy a very silly thing. You deserve it.

It’s not always easy to do it, though. There’s just so much, everywhere, all the time, you know? And so much of our comedy is wrapped up in that everything lately, with standup specials and late-night talk shows all taking on the issues of the day, sometimes with greater effect than the actual news. Which is good, mostly. There’s something cathartic about taking on a bad thing with jokes. Seth Meyers is doing the Lord’s work. Hannah Gadsby’s new special Nanette is earning justified raves. One Day at a Time makes me laugh and cry so much that anyone watching me watch it with headphones in would think I’m having a breakdown. But sometimes, as strange as it sounds, all of it can make me feel like I need a break from comedy.

This brings us back to Detroiters. Detroiters is such a fun show, all the time, wall-to-wall. Jokes stacked on top of jokes so high they might block out the sun. Some of them are extremely small and targeted, like how the show’s fictional news anchor, Mort Crim (think like an angry Perd Hapley), is played by longtime real Detroit news anchor Mort Crim. Some of them are broad and goofy. There was one on the most recent episode that killed me. Here, look:

SAM: Yeah, we almost got engaged. I put a ring in a cake.
MOLLY: I ate the cake.
SAM: And then, when we went through your stool, there were two diamond rings in there. That’s how I knew you were cheating on me.

That’s perfect. It reminds me of a joke from Airplane or The Naked Gun. It exists purely for the laugh it delivers. It doesn’t hold up logically even for a second (why didn’t the other guy care enough to help find his ring?) and I could not possibly care less.

There’s another joke like this later in the episode. Two characters are lying in bed reading books. One of the books is titled “Steve Harvey Reacts to Messes,” which is pretty good. The other book appears to be a fictional biography of Hall of Fame baseball player Ty Cobb written by Home Improvement actor Richard Karn. The title: Karn on the Cobb. Is it mentioned a single time by any character? Nope. Does it exist solely for the small subset of viewers who watch their screens too closely and are familiar with both 90s sitcoms and racist baseball players from the early 1900s? Yup. Am I doing it a disservice by over-explaining it? Probably. But it was important to me that you know.

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(I didn’t even mention the funniest part of this episode. There’s a running gag that builds throughout the whole thing right up until the end and it is so good that I would never be able to forgive myself if I spoiled it for you. It will be hard not to, though. So please watch it soon. I can only hold this in for so long.)

I promise I will stop just listing funny jokes from the show now. There’s more to it than throwaway gags anyway. There’s actually a heart in there, too, thanks mostly to the on- and off-screen friendship of its leads. The real and fictional Sam and Tim care about each other so much and it comes right through the screen. Between that and the complete lack of cynicism, the show comes across almost sweet most of the time. Or as sweet as a show that references digging wedding rings out of feces can be. Which is a little sweet, if you think about it. I mean, if that’s not love…

Comedy can do a lot of things in a lot of different ways. There’s an argument to be made that it’s more versatile than drama just because of that range. You’ve got everything from BoJack Horseman (both one of our silliest comedies and our most accurate depictions of depression) to Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (bubbly neon goof parade about a survivor of sexual assault) to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (super fun and enjoyable comedy packaged like an hour-long drama). Sometimes it can lean dark and cynical and mean, which is also okay in small doses. The point is, variety is good, and sometimes you might want 30 minutes of unapologetic silliness with no huge Sword of Damocles hanging over it to wallop you with reality. That’s fine. It’s good, even. Let yourself get a little silly.

Detroiters is here to help.

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