DIRECTOR: Jonathan Krisel
RELEASE DATE: 01/21/2016
STARRING: Zach Galifianakis, Sabina Sciubba,
Louie Anderson, Martha Kelly, and Tom Proctor.
The new FX series starring Zach Galifianakis as a rodeo clown is as absurd as it sounds.
In this modern age, the storied history of the clown has been all but forgotten and in its place, we’re left with Juggalos and Rob Zombie’s next horror film. There used to be a time when being a clown meant something, it carried some sort of prestige. So where does someone who is drawn to a life of face paint and stupid shoes turn to? The Bakersfield Rodeo. That’s where.
Within 3 minutes of the first episode of FX’s newest series Baskets, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into. Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis) eagerly sits inside a classroom at the Academie de Clown Français in Paris taking notes on the different techniques required to become the very best clown one can be, the only problem is, he doesn’t speak french. Shortly after failing at clown college (for obvious reasons), Chip and his newly acquired wife, Sarah (Sabina Sciubba), head back to his hometown of Bakersfield, California in search of a new life together… well, not really. As soon as the couple arrives stateside, Sarah ditches Chip and he’s left on his own to find a job.
Turns out there’s work for a classically french trained clown in the local rodeo, of course, the pay is awful and you’re in danger of getting a bullhorn in your kisser. The job interview plays out as one would expect, with a hayseed rodeo owner warning of the short lifespan of his former employees. Chip insists on being called Renoir, a name fitting for his unearned pretentiousness. The only problem is, Chip Baskets is a strikingly accurate name for a rodeo clown, and Renoir doesn’t stick.
After wrecking his Vespa scooter due to an inadvertent bee attack from inside his helmet, Chip finds an unlikely friend in Martha (Martha Kelly), his insurance claims agent. Martha is just as hopeless as Chip and the two develop a symbiotic relationship that seems oddly perfect.
There are two other characters in the series that deliver some quality laughs. As if we didn’t already get enough of Zach, he went ahead and created Chip’s twin brother Dale. For anyone who has seen Galifianakis’ stand-up special Live at the Purple Onion, Dale will be eerily familiar to Zach’s other twin brother, Seth. Dale is a recent graduate and owner of his own career college, which offers some hilarious course options including ice cream truck management and personalized license plating. There’s only one person memorable enough to bring someone like Chip and Dale Baskets into this world and that’s Mama Baskets, with a surprising cameo by Louie Anderson, who actually portrays a strangely convincing woman.
Baskets is the brain child of Zach Galifianakis, Louis C.K. (Louie) and Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!). Those familiar with the three creator’s body of work will instantly be enamored with the series. The same absurdist humor and out-of-left-field concepts are riddled throughout Baskets. The humor isn’t too forced and if you look closely, you’ll notice a lot of subtle gags that, while not inducing an audible laugh, will still bring a smile to your face.
After the first episode, Baskets tends to meander, with certain moments dragging their feet. A lot of time is spent poking fun at the mundane daily occurrences of Bakersfield, which anyone who has been there can attest, it can be pretty mundane. Still, the humor is authentic and when carried on the back of Galifianakis, makes for an enjoyable time.
Baskets premieres tomorrow night on FX, check out the trailer below.