Yeah, I said it: Workaholics is one of the great comedies on the air these days.
It's a thought that has been floating around my mind for some time now, but a string of absolutely off-the-charts hysterical episodes – the latest being the instant classic "Real Time," in which the fellows must prevent their boss, Alice, from hearing a slew of drunken voicemail messages that they left on her office phone – confirms it.
Workaholics can be easy to "dismiss" at first due to its lo-fi aesthetic and premise, which is essentially to follow the misadventures of three powered-by-bong slackers who work dead end jobs at the odd yet appropriately named TelAmeriCorp. Each episode takes a pretty straight forward concept – "Fat Cuz" episode description: "The guys bring Adam's obese cousin to the office in order to use his handicapped parking pass" – and pushes it to a zany extreme. Here's a clip from that episode:
But I realized that even while the plotting and "storytelling" of Workaholics has become gradually more sophisticated over its three seasons, and the writing is often quite sharp – especially as delivered through the cocky/dumbass personas of stars Blake Anderson, Adam DeVine, and Anders Holm (all of whom are co-creators and writers on the show) – it's the delivery itself that puts the series at a different level.
The casual, semi-improvised atmosphere that Workaholics creates allows us to feel like we're hanging out with our hilarious slacker buddies during that interregnum between college (or dropping out, depending) and finding a "real" life.
This clip does a pretty good job of showcasing why Workaholics works. A simple set-up, again from "Fat Cuz" – the boys want boss Alice to give them the "extra" handicapped parking spot at the office – allows for a good bit of riffing and silliness. There's also very frequent use of unusual but clever language ("scratch our butts," "change tampon, grody") that Comedy Central will at times throw on the bottom third of the screen as a Twitter hashtag (example: #bearcoat).
I also recognized recently that there is not an enormous amount of character differentiation between its three stars – Adam is the king of Frat House schmuck tomfoolery, Ders is a peg more buttoned down and ambitious than his buddies, and Blake, even with his wild hair and dude 'stache, is the more earnest and good natured of the group.
In a sense, that allows "us" – and likely that means the Comedy Central target rich audience of18 to thirty-something – to inject ourselves into the show and feel as though we are hanging out on the roof, drinking beer, and riffing on endless pop culture asides and rants about friends and co-workers along with the boys.
Speaking of pop culture, the careful observer of Workaholics will pick up laser sharp references dropped into the verbal slipstream on a pretty regular basis. An example comes from several episodes back when, in emphasizing a point he felt he was right on in making, Ders raised both hands in the air, and deadpanned, "O'Ders rules." This will resonate only if you are quick enough to pick up a minor but recurring gag ("O'Doyle rules!") from the 1996 Adam Sandler movie, Billy Madison.
So I suppose I am the perfect target demo for Workaholics, if a bit on the older side, as I spent many a slacker-iffic afternoon in my just post-collegiate life watching that very same film.
Anderson and DeVine were guests on The Adam Carolla Show podcast recently, and I was very interested to learn that Workaholics began as a web series and was eventually noticed and picked up by Comedy Central. The boys claim that it took them several weeks to read their e-mail and figure out that Comedy Central was interested – I'm not sure if I believe that part or if the story was presented that way simply to further establish their slacker mystique! In any event, I found it inspiring that writers and performers as clearly talented as these guys are found a path to success by way of putting their work on the web.
Workaholics airs Tuesday nights at 10:30 p.m.