The Internet has a new darling webseries and it’s called The Earliest Show. Starring Parks & Rec alum Ben Schwartz and budding star Lauren Lapkus, the Funny or Die series is a smash in the waiting.
If the characters drive the show, then the writing is the fuel which makes the car run. The show’s setting is centered on a mock morning news show, hence the show title. Playing a co-anchor, Josh, Ben Schwartz has mastered the art of off-script deviation. The series follows Josh’s day-by-day journey as he goes through each stage of depression following a break up with his girlfriend. His co-anchor, the adorable and witty Sam (Lapkus) does her duty as a friend and attempts to bring Josh out of his slump. All this happens while presenting the news and interviewing a weekly celebrity guest (Reggie Miller, Thomas Middleditch etc.).
So why watch these 10 minute webisodes? Lapkus and Schwartz improvise their way through the episode in a fashion which makes their chemistry seem not only organic, but palpable. Whenever Josh catches the blues mid-show, Sam is there with a snarky yet lighthearted response to refocus her partner. Still, the tension between Sam and Josh is basically nonexistent. Instead, we get to watch two loving friends’ trade harmless, witty remarks while broadcasting their addictive onstage personalities. Lapkus is a professional when it comes to balancing out Schwartz dramatics.
Watching these two simply be themselves is nothing short of hilarious. If you are a fan of clever, nonsensical banter, ala Will Ferrell and company in Anchorman, then this is a show for you. Just about everything seems impromptu. Normally, such extemporaneous behavior has its hits and misses. With this show however, everything is spot on. Take their interactions with guest Reggie Watts, for example. Watts comes on and of course, the two anchors ask the musician to start beatboxing. Watts and Schwartz beatbox and clap their hands when Lapkus randomly decides to start awkwardly singing “Help me, help me; I’m trapped in the TV.” It makes zero sense, which is why it makes total sense. When Schwartz goes high, Lapkus goes low. When Schwartz cries, Lapkus laughs. It’s a harmony of comedy.
The show also has its little nuances which give it personality. Each episode features a commercial from Cap’n Crunch. They always manage to couple the cereal with something outrageous. One time they promoted orange traffic cones and said they were handy for avoiding anything from spilled wine to knocked over bowls of Cap’n Crunch. It’s the show’s brief way of satirizing the everyday robotics which accompanies morning news programs as they commercialize just about every portion of human life.
Still, the series knows that brevity is the soul of wit. They began each episode with a brief retraction from some story they ultimately failed to report accurately. Then they move to a section where they discuss Twitter comments. Next up, a guest comes on to talk for literally a minute. Then they have a segment which focuses on some demonstration, whether that be learning to exercise or cook leftovers from the fridge. And like that, the show is over. They manage to squeeze in tons of laughs into such a tiny show and deserve a spot in the sun.
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