The inherent problem with any targeted network is the demand to serve that niche unrelentingly, which can make an idea like "The Big Gay Sketch Show" quickly feel like too much of a so-so thing. With Rosie O'Donnell lending marquee value as an exec producer, this production for the modestly distributed gay cable net Logo rehashes the usual pop culture references -- ridiculing Bravo, spoofing NBC's "The More You Know" public-service campaign -- with only a few more-inspired exceptions. Ultimately, it's another minor addition to the "Every demographic will have its own cheap sketch show" trend.
The inherent problem with any targeted network is the demand to serve that niche unrelentingly, which can make an idea like “The Big Gay Sketch Show” quickly feel like too much of a so-so thing. With Rosie O’Donnell lending marquee value as an exec producer, this production for the modestly distributed gay cable net Logo rehashes the usual pop culture references — ridiculing Bravo, spoofing NBC’s “The More You Know” public-service campaign — with only a few more-inspired exceptions. Ultimately, it’s another minor addition to the “Every demographic will have its own cheap sketch show” trend.
As if to underscore the limitations of its imagination, the premiere returns four times to the “When I Knew” spoof, as cast members recount comical stories about when they first realized they were gay. The first two installments somewhat more successfully strain classic sitcoms through a gay filter (“The Honeymooners” and “Facts of Life,” respectively), coupled with bits like the “Pocket Gay Friend,” an ad parody of those near-ubiquitous, over-the-top sidekicks in many a TV sitcom.
Only one sketch in each of the initial half-hours really pops. In the premiere, it’s Nicol Paone playing irrepressible stage performer Elaine Stritch as a Wal-Mart greeter and, the next week, a round of “Lesbian speed dating” that actually traces the sordid arc of a failed relationship in a mere three minutes. (Paone stands out as a fairly gifted impressionist, by the way, doing spot-on versions of Arianna Huffington and “Honeymooners” co-star Audrey Meadows in the opener.)
Even so, the only aspect of the sketch genre that’s remotely new here is the “Big Gay” designation, as the show plucks chords Fox’s “In Living Color” ran into the ground more than 15 years ago — augmented by an overeager laughtrack, lest that big-gay contingent not recognize the cues as to when they should feel especially gay.
Inevitably, channels such as Logo (available in about 26 million homes) will be constrained in terms of their appeal and thus budgets, and experimenting with original fare is gutsier than simply trying to get by on a steady diet of “Queer as Folk” reruns.
Nevertheless, gay or straight, the audience has too many options to rely on mediocrity, which is why this exercise would seem a whole lot bigger and gayer if it was just a bit funnier.