There have been multiple attempts to do a show that draws upon all the video available on the web — essentially to allow a big fat corporation like Viacom to inject itself into the viral process and try to make a profit off all that free content. Add Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0” to the list.
Premiering June 4, the show has a light, breezy, willfully stupid quality, which is probably exactly what this sort of enterprise requires. But it’s still an awfully thin, hit-or-miss gruel, the kind that can be consumed in such bite-sized bits that it’s hard to imagine anyone — no matter how stoned they are — sitting still through a commercial break, which sort of defeats the purpose.
Basically, host/comic Daniel Tosh plays silly videos and riffs on them, from fetishist fare to a guy swallowing a teaspoon of cinnamon and promptly barfing. The commentary is wry and at times reasonably amusing, but there’s no escaping that you’re watching cheap, grainy-looking crap that you could just as easily be watching on a computer (minus Tosh, of course) at work — assuming that you’re still lucky enough to have a job. Indeed, Tosh kept saying that fuller and less edited versions of the videos were available on the show’s website, which made me wonder why I wouldn’t just watch it there and skip the TV-edition middle man.
Among the regular features is something called “Web Redemption,” in which Tosh finds someone featured in a humiliating video and gives them a second chance. That’s actually a pretty clever idea, although it assumes that everyone likely to tune in would be familiar with “Afro Ninja,” who wiped out and ate floor trying to executive a back flip.
On the plus side, it’s hard to imagine a more inexpensive concept, and Comedy Central obviously has the latitude and even the mandate to play around with ways to bring its web-connected young-guy audience into one tube, as it were.
Still, the channel’s development often strikes me as a missed opportunity, seldom approaching the smarts that “The Daily Show”/”Colbert Report” deliver nightly, which would be a real way to fortify the channel’s brand.
Instead, Comedy Central went searching for a bright new format and basically came back with a latter-day version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” — more proof that even on the web, if you wait a few years, everything old is new again.