Kvelling Over ‘PN & Friends’: A Review

Ever watch something so ridiculous and silly that you can’t help but guffaw?

That’s how I feel about PN & Friends, the hilarious webseries on YouTube from the folks who brought you comedian Todd Montesi. Well, actually, it’s from Montesi himself, who’s surrounded by a cast of players that includes, uh … other folks. But you get what I mean.

We freakin’ looooove this show.

OK, it’s amateurish. OK, it doesn’t make sense. OK, it’s often about wrestling or something tangentially related to wrestling.

Those are positives, by the way. I just used the “OK” type of phrasing to provide a concise segue.

Montesi, a veteran of the standup scene who hosts the UG Comedy Show in NYC and has appeared in programs such as HBO’s Crashing, is kind of a brilliant guy. I would call him an auteur, but that would be pretentious. How about I call him a meta-auteur? ‘Cause his series, which in a nutshell concerns the adventures of one “PN” (played by Montesi) as he journeys throughout Brooklyn, NY, and other parts of the Big Apple in search of things to get annoyed at, is meta like you won’t believe. Among the meta-dudes who turn up in this meta-fest: his comrade-in-humor David Voice, who’s always yelling and wearing bizarre outfits (love the bright green!); bespectacled buddy Joe Dixon (full disclosure: we watched part of the 2016 presidential elections together … yikes!); and some guy who lives in the bathroom.

Honestly, I really don’t know what it’s about. It’s funny, though, and that’s what counts. Because who wants to watch an incessant stream of cat videos, anyway? You want comedy, right? Well, you got it, at Montesi’s Land of Amusement.

Oh, I also don’t understand what meta means–I just like to utilize it in sentences. I think it’s a millennial term used to describe cerebral jokes. Even the word¬†meta is very meta.

Sorry … bit of a digression. Anyway, these episodes, which so far number 14 in total, will have you chuckling throughout as Montesi’s PN protests all of the ludicrous situations he encounters. Yes, you can witness him interviewing people about Summerslam (a wrestling event) at the Barclays Center. Sure, you can observe him kvetching about his “lucky water bottle” (Todd, man, really?). Yet what you want to do for sure is watch the entire series straight through. I am hypnotizing you now in an effort to get you to do so. You … are … getting … very … sleeeeeeeepy.

My apologies, once again. I realize that hypnosis is not a very effective way to get people to watch a webseries. Also, it’s highly unethical as a marketing practice. Todd, stop making me tout your webseries through comedy hypnosis! It’s a madhouse! A maaaadhouse!

The moral of this blog post is: Laughter is rare, so you’ve gotta enjoy it when it’s real. PN & Friends¬†will generate real laughter. As long as you aren’t expecting camerawork by James Wong Howe. Or costumes by Edith Head. Fine–you can expect cameos by a host of toys in the shapes of famous wrestlers. Plus some weird wall art. And no studio audience! Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?

I’ll end this review by saying this: In a sanctioned wrestling match, I have full confidence that Montesi would pin Voice in three rounds by using his famous “nostril lock” hold. Will any new episode use this absurd idea of mine as one of its major themes? Probably not.

That, dear reader, is just one of many reasons why you should watch.

Over and out.

Setter’s ‘Spective: The Madness of Undervaluing Comedy

Are there any great comedians left who haven’t turned to drama?

I ask this question sometime after grumbling my way through Hyde Park on Hudson, director Roger Michell’s innocuous 2012 film starring Bill Murray as the womanizing Franklin D. Roosevelt. I couldn’t believe Murray, the wonderfully dry, talented jokester whose it-just-doesn’t-matter attitude enlivened flicks such as Ghostbusters and Meatballs, was playing it so straight–and dull–as the inimitable wartime President. This was what I was watching Murray for?

Sadly, he’s not alone when it comes to actors in his trade, nor is he a pacesetter in gravitating toward drama. Charlie Chaplin, Woody Allen, Robin Williams and even Jim Carrey have all starred in dramatic pictures that didn’t take full advantage of their laughtastic talents. And I lament that, because it’s as if they’re discarding their specialties–the stuff that humorous dreams are made of–for something they’re not as good at, seemingly in the hopes that they’ll be recognized for their serious efforts more than their silly ones.

Yeah, watch Chaplin’s Limelight, and tell me it’s more enjoyable than Modern Times. I dare ya.

The truth is, great comedy’s just as respectable as great drama–and the idea that it’s not as important is nonsense. Look at Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro: the pinnacle of comedic (or, frankly, any) opera. I’d listen to that any day over Nixon in China. And would any of us really opt for Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio over any classic Beatles song? There’s nothing lowbrow about great art…even if it’s a popular form.

Not that I’m imploring Allen to go back to making wild movies like Bananas. His style has evolved, like so many other comics, and I don’t think that can change. But I thank my lucky Hollywood stars that Laurel and Hardy didn’t make Antony and Cleopatra. Or that the Marx Brothers made fun of Eugene O’Neill’s plays rather than put them on.

If that isn’t worthy of respect, I don’t know what is.