For all “The Daily Show’s” skill in lampooning politicians and media, Comedy Central arrives a little late at the notion of expanding that target to include the celebrity-entranced “Entertainment Tonight”/ “Access Hollywood” machine. For starters, there’s nothing here that Jay Leno and David Letterman don’t tackle nightly in their monologues, and beyond that, the showbiz mags are so cartoonish they almost defy parody. Essentially, this pancake-flat debut amounted to a 30-minute “Weekend Update” segment devoted entirely to Hollywood, filled with about three minutes of actual comedy.
Being snide only goes so far, and “The Showbiz Show” continues David Spade’s sorry trajectory from “Saturday Night Live,” sidekick movie roles and “Just Shoot Me” to weird uncle on “8 Simple Rules,” Capital One pitchman and now bored-looking host of a cut-rate cable program.
Given that this was the first episode, it’s surprising the producers didn’t put a better foot forward. Instead, the kickoff showcases tired taped gags, plenty of Britney Spears jokes and a news segment where Spade mocks Paris Hilton’s acting by saying, “Producers are looking for someone to f–k her brains back in.” Hi-yo.
Working on a minimalist set, Spade later tossed to “correspondent” Brian Posehn, who discussed various attractive pop stars and which ones he’d like to “crank one out” to. Normally, it’s hard to disrespect the standards of drunken frat boys, but there it was.
A spoof of “The Man” trailer felt lifted straight out of “SNL,” and another predictable bit featured a report from a Rolling Stones concert where octogenarians smoked weed and got hammered. The only truly funny moments involved Rob Lowe spoofing NBC’s oh-so-earnest “The More You Know” public-service spots, reminding parents to counsel their children that kids who smoke are usually the cool ones.
Obviously, the celebrity industry is ripe for ridicule, but there are so many venues serving up showbiz satire — from existing latenight shows to the Internet — that it’s hard to get by on this level of slapdash humor. On an average day, breezing through Defamer.com delivers more chuckles than Spade and company could muster in a half-hour.
It’s equally disappointing that Comedy Central keeps making Jon Stewart’s signature program the meat in a juvenile-slop sandwich. Here’s hoping for better from “Daily Show” spin-off “The Colbert Report,” whenever Adam Carolla finishes talking.
While promos for “The Showbiz Show” warn that the series will be “tearing Tinseltown a new one,” that looks to be an idle threat. Sure, the premiere took its whacks, but it’s hard to draw blood with an instrument this blunt and dull.