Having previously dipped Down Under to find comedy in the underwhelming “Wilfred,” FX returns to those environs by tapping Aussie stand-up Jim Jefferies to star in “Legit,” a quirky, profane, but actually surprisingly sweet half-hour. Jefferies’ amoral character gets hooked up with his friend’s brother, who has cerebral palsy, which creates all sorts of incorrect situations, and also some pretty funny ones. Whether there’s enough here to warrant a regular appointment is murky, but the pilot and two subsequent episodes create a rather steady state of amusement.
Created by Jefferies and Peter O’Fallon (who also directed the pilot), the title is vaguely derived from the advice the eponymous Jefferies receives from his mom. But the show actually finds its core in Jim’s relationship with his manager, Steve (Dan Bakkedahl), and by extension Steve’s brother Billy (DJ Qualls), who is wheelchair-bound due to muscular dystrophy.
Because of his illness, Billy is a virgin, and the whole family realizes Jim is the perfect candidate to take him to a whorehouse and give him at least one happy memory. Billy, meanwhile, is drawn to Jim’s debauched ways, and the one night turns into an ongoing bacchanal, with Jim (and to a lesser degree, Steve) seemingly determined that if Billy is going to die young, he ought to go with a smile on his face.
There’s a “Last Detail”-like quality to the premiere, but also a rather endearing aspect in Billy’s plight (Qualls, a cancer survivor, looks appropriately fragile) and Jim’s posture toward him, even if Jim sees certain lascivious benefits in squiring him around.
As for promising signs, the third half-hour might be the funniest of the lot, with Jim introducing Billy to Internet chats, while Steve tries to put his friend’s dating advice into practice.
Like a lot of comics, Jefferies isn’t a natural actor, but he’s capable enough to handle playing what amounts to (hopefully a more jaundiced version of) himself. And while the show’s preoccupations with sex, drugs and the complications associated with Billy voiding his bladder can occasionally feel a tad gratuitous, few familiar with the general tone of FX comedies will be taken aback by any of it.
Other than “Louie” and perhaps the early days of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” FX has struggled to conjure comedies as distinctive as its dramas, and conceptually, there’s nothing particularly fresh about this latest addition.
Still, “Legit” proves periodically funny, and oddly charming. And as elusive as both of those qualities are in primetime, that alone makes it too legit to quit.