Probably not enough people know this but Jon Glaser is one of the funniest comedians going. I’m guessing most people who aren’t me will know him as Councilman Jeremy Jamm from Parks and Recreation (I didn’t watch it) but he does lots of great stuff besides. For one thing, he’s Laird, the best non-main recurring character on Girls. Also, he and H. Jon Benjamin did one of the most tedious yet brilliant stand-up bits ever.
However, Glaser’s best work has been with PFFR, the art collective/production company of weirdos responsible for cult classic Wonder Showzen and some of the more divisive, but in frank actuality, best programs on Adult Swim, Xavier: Renegade Angel and The Heart, She Holler, the latter of which featured Glaser as a guy who had his hands replaced with two cans of beer. PFFR then produced Glaser’s Delocated about a douchebag in the witness protection program. It was also really great and is absolutely worth checking out if you missed it.
Now PFFR’s producing another Glaser production, the miniseries Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter, the genesis of which was apparently some nonsense, imaginary show Glaser invented on the spot during an interview with Jimmy Fallon two years back. Because Adult Swim is nothing if not a network that champions nonsense, this is now a real thing about, well, a werewolf hunter hunting werewolves in a small town known for its abundance of B&Bs. It stars Glaser as the titular character, as well as Scott Adsit (30 Rock and The Heart, She Holler), Delocated alumnus Steve Cirbus, and, oddly enough, Stephanie March, who nobody knows from anything except Law & Order: SVU.
Adult Swim sent me the first two (of five) episodes and I’d say, if you like absurd nonsense, this is worth tuning into. However, the fact that it’s a miniseries is probably for the best because I’m not confident something this unabashedly stupid could be sustained for much longer.
If IMDB is to be believed, none of the PFFR people were involved in writing Delocated but I felt it had more echoes of the batshit disturbing stuff they were directly responsible for. Neon Joe falls even further from the PFFR freak tree. There’s very little of the mad mouthfuls of wordplay that characterized Xavier: Renegade Angel or The Heart, She Holler and, though it gets kind of gross, it’s rarely unsettling.
There’s still some of that stuff though! Like a bit in the first episode where a doctor encourages a girl to have sex with her comatose boyfriend while he films it, calling it a “medical procedure.” And there is this brilliant line: “My suicidal thoughts are gone. They’ve hung themselves on a rope made out of the fibers of your kindness.”
But basically this is a Jon Glaser, not a PFFR, jam and that’s still a pretty fun thing. As he demonstrated in Delocated, Glaser relishes in playing overconfident assholes and Neon Joe adds another to his catalog. Joe, who has some manner of unplaceable creole accent and a signature grunt that I guess would be spelled something like “heuh,” regularly monologues about how great and cool he is. At one point he reads off a girl’s suicide note, but adds in completely imagined lines about his “squeezable buns.”
“I read between the lines,” he explains. “I know when I’m being flirted with in a suicide note.”
Some of the stuff in here truly is brilliant, like the mother of the comatose boy who we only see as her normal self for one scene. The next time she’s onscreen we discover that, as a coping mechanism, she’s now calling herself Matt, is acting like her son, dressing in his clothes, trying to sell people his mixtape, and repeatedly trying to make out with his girlfriend. And it’s also awesome when Neon Joe first shows up at a rowdy town hall meeting and gets everyone’s attention with some “chalkboard nails in a can.”
Still, in general, to enjoy Neon Joe, you really have to surrender yourself to its knowing stupidity. A core plot point of the premiere is concerned with Joe collecting and analyzing pube samples from the townsfolk. The second episode features a shameless parody of Misery deliberately telegraphed from a mile away. There’s a character named Brooklyn Bobby who owns a pizza place called “Fuh-Slice-Aboutit’s” and ends all his (grammatically incorrect) sentences with “about it.” Oh, and there’s a subplot about some of the townspeople being aliens.
Again, I don’t know how tolerable this would be past five episodes, but as a miniseries I’m perfectly open to seeing Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter through to the end.