Written by guest contributor Brian Roe
Today we’re reviewing something a little different from we normally do on the site. Thundershorts is a new site that launched this week with a dedicated YouTube channel. The premise is spelled out in the name, short episodes. This is a comedy channel so don’t expect short form mysteries or anything like that.
American Viral: Epic Balls
American Viral has a pretty clever premise followed by lots of yelling and mugging by The State alum Michael Showalter. The Busks, a basic American sitcom family, strives to exploit their brief fling with internet fame by continually producing videos in an attempt to recapture the magic of “My Balls, My Balls” a twenty second clip of the family’s oldest son being shot in the crotch with a Nerf bazooka. Actually the whole family, especially oldest son Cory, doesn’t seem to be into the whole thing as much as fame-mad father Roger (Showalter).
Roger is flat out a pitiless asshole, running through the house while filming constantly as he keeps up a running dialogue with his viewers and harasses his family. It seems today is the three year anniversary of YouTube fame-maker “My Balls, My Balls” and Roger just can’t wait to get the family to recreate the original nut-shot even if it means permanent damage to his son’s harbles. But fate deals a different hand to Ol’ Roger and soon he’s nursing his wounded pride, and other bits, with bags of frozen peas and the comfort of 10,000 You Tube views.
This initial episode throws a lot at the viewer very quickly and loudly. And I can’t stress enough that Roger is an awful person who we in no way cheer for or give a damn about. Maybe further episodes will give us a reason to like the guy who seems to take up the most camera time. And the idea of the show itself is pretty relevant even if it feels a bit dated at this point. I’m sure Roger Busk has a lot of dopplegangers in the real world who are more than willing to Nerf their kids’ nards for a brief chance of fame. Yay.
Gabe & Max Need Help: Being Present
Of all of the Thundershorts videos Gabe & Max Need Help held my attention the most and gave a lot of laughs. Best friends Gabe and Max seek out counseling to resolve a myriad of issues in their relationship. They find themselves working with a snarky therapist who seems to take no small amount of joy in playing the friends against each other.
The rapid fire patter between seemingly type-A, OCD Gabe (Gabe Delahaye), and self-absorbed, man-child Max (Max Silvestri), and The Therapist (Kumail Nanjiani) is constant and clever. From deciding to each create their own Netflix cues to debating if playing Xbox can be thought of as a project, each new silliness is given the proper amount of time and then replaced with something even more ridiculous. It makes for a fun, short show and by far my favorite of all the initial Thundershorts premiers.
Augie Alone: Flirting
Augie Alone is a fun little vignette of the frustrations of modern communications via smart phone and emoticons. Like someone trying to decipher leetspeak, Augie tries his damnedest to follow a brief flirtation sent from “Girl From Bar”. Her use of rapid fire emoticons in seemingly arcane combinations has Augie all discombobulated and he eventually admits not having any idea what’s going on. Too bad she’ll never teach him.
This is a quick story that plays well and could certainly develop into a nicely cynical show. My only complaint is that the screen of Augie’s phone is never shown clearly enough to allow the viewer to keep up with the interaction and the joke is often lost by the time Augie spells it out. But overall it’s funny enough.
Like Dustin I felt like the Thundershorts premiers need a good bit of tightening up before they’re continually funny. That being said these are the first episodes and will hopefully develop as the series progresses. Give them a shot yourself.