×

TV Review: ‘The Ben Show With Ben Hoffman’ / ‘Nathan for You’

The numbing sameness of Comedy Central’s snide sketch comedy and politically incorrect tomfoolery isn’t usually helped by rolling them out two at a time, but the channel has done just that with new vehicles for comics Ben Hoffman and Nathan Fielder. Both have their moments, with “The Ben Show” hinging on a more rapid-fire assortment of gags, while “Nathan for You” too often feels like a spoof of the kind of reality shows most of the target audience wouldn’t be caught dead watching in the first place.

Mixing sketches with man-on-the-street bits, Hoffman builds most of his shtick around deadpanning his way through uncomfortable moments, like trying to get people to read offensive introductions oncamera.

That said, there are a few nuggets for those with the patience to keep panning for them, such as animating an interview with former child star Todd Bridges discussing past drug use, or a protracted bit where Hoffman debates whether to buy a gun, interviewing various people (including his father and his therapist) about the prospect.

Hoffman also indulges in plenty of racial and scatological stuff, like a tiresome bit where he repeatedly vomits in front of different strangers. If it’s occasionally clever, like a lot of these shows, it’s just as often annoying.

The same largely holds on “Nathan for You,” which more closely hews to a single concept: Fielder plays one of those made-for-TV business consultants, a la Gordon Ramsay or any number of Bravo gurus there to help out small shops, only to give the confused proprietors really terrible advice.

In the premiere, this involves talking a yogurt shop into selling a poo-flavored treat, and separately convincing a pizzeria to offer eight-minute-delivery-or-free service, the trick being the free pizza is only an inch square.

Like Hoffman, Fielder deadpans his way through the half-hour, yet even with two different marks, the material is too thin to fill an episode, forcing him to flesh things out with vignettes, like going on a job interview and having a 7-year-old boy feed him answers.
Despite the poo gag (and gagging seems to be what most patrons do), “Nathan” is less consistently vulgar than “Ben,” and while both are uneven, it’s also less funny.

That’s not to say Comedy Central should be discouraged from playing with the format, but after “The Kroll Show” and these new entries, the channel seems to be in a bit of a rut, rotating different comics (mostly young white guys) through the same low-brow mill.
If that suits your taste, have at it, and some surely will. Because as Fielder demonstrates, there are some people who don’t seem to mind poo-flavored confections.

Produced by Ben Hoffman Prods., Gibbons Bros. Prods. and LEG Prods. Executive producers, Hoffman, Mike Gibbons, Itay Reiss, Derek Van Pelt, Judi Brown Marmel; producers, Lucy Huang, Jim Ziegler; supervising producer, Michael Kaplan; director, Blake Webster; editors, Clark Burnett, Brian Alexander. 30 MIN. Produced by Absolutely, Blow Out Prods. and WDM. Executive producers, Nathan Fielder, Michael Koman, Dave Kneebone, Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim; producers, Clark Baker, Clark Reinking, Dave Paige; director, Fielder. 30 MIN.

With: Ben Hoffman
With: Nathan Fielder

TV Review: 'The Ben Show With Ben Hoffman' / 'Nathan for You'

More TV

  • Netflix-logo-N-icon

    Netflix Announces New Slate of Children's Programming

    Preschoolers and their parents are about to have more Netflix shows to choose from. The streaming service announced Monday that it will be adding seven new animated and live-action programs to their slate of children’s shows geared toward an audience of kids aged two through six. Among the CG-animated shows is a follow up to [...]

  • Veronica Mars -- "Heads You Lose"

    'Veronica Mars' Boss on Season 4 Shocker: 'It Felt Like Cutting Off a Limb'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the fourth season of “Veronica Mars,” streaming now on Hulu. “Veronica Mars” giveth, and “Veronica Mars” taketh away. The fourth season of the Kristen Bell-starrer featured her titular character still in a relationship with her high school boyfriend Logan (Jason Dohring), committed enough that they [...]

  • Kenya Barris Kid Cudi netflix

    Kenya Barris, Kid Cudi Team for Netflix Animated Series Based on Cudi's New Album

    Kenya Barris and Kid Cudi have set an adult animated music series at Netflix with an added twist. The series will be based on Cudi’s upcoming album, “Entergalactic,” which is set to be released by Republic Records. The series will showcase music from the new album, which is said to follow a young man on [...]

  • Robert Mueller Report

    TV Networks Will Shake Up Morning Routine for Mueller Coverage

    Many top TV-news outlets will cut into important TV real estate – their morning programs – to kick off coverage of Wednesday’s hearings in Washington of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller, placing a spotlight on the high interest in his testimony, as well as the networks’ readiness to scrap their daytime schedules for breaking news [...]

  • Downton Abbey

    Is BritBox U.K. a Brit-Hit or a Brit-Flop in the Making?

    In two years of operation, BritBox has snagged more than 650,000 subscribers in North America with its “best of British” lineup of drama, soaps, unscripted shows and live programming. Now that it’s lifted the lid on its plans to launch in the U.K. later this year, the question for co-owners ITV and the BBC is [...]

  • Another-Life-Netflix

    TV Review: 'Another Life'

    Netflix’s new series “Another Life” brings Katee Sackhoff back into space, a decade after the conclusion of “Battlestar Galactica,” the beloved series on which she starred. But her new series looks more like the rest of the fare on the SyFy network — it’s inelegantly made and operates less in the realm of ideas than [...]

  • Vince McMahon WWE

    Vince McMahon Out of Excuses for WWE Woes

    When World Wrestling Entertainment reported its sluggish first-quarter performance in April, CEO Vince McMahon blamed it on “superstar absences,” the temporary sidelining of many of his star grapplers due to injuries accumulated in 2018 and early 2019. But now that WWE is on the verge of releasing its second-quarter numbers on July 25, McMahon is [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content