When reviewing the work of the American sketch comedy duo Dave & Tom, there’s an elephant in the room that needs to be addressed. It’s nigh impossible to discuss Dave & Tom without invoking England’s mighty Monty Python.
It’s not simply that David Beeler and Tom Konkle are skilled at literate lampooning, and choose to deliver much of it in British accents. Or that Beeler studied drama for over a decade on the other side of the pond. Or that Konkle recently wrote and co-starred with John Cleese in a two-man sketch show. Beyond the more obvious connections, much of the material from this double act plays like vintage Flying Circus, comedy writ large with an almost swashbuckling sense of wordplay and whimsy.
Exhibit A: The duo’s newest web series, Invention with Brian Forbes, centers around a genteel British television host and his recurring (and, in fact, only) guest, a half-baked inventor named Sir Reginald Bo-Hey Know. Invention recently scored a distribution deal with KoldCast TV, which also has a deal with TiVo. TiVo? It’s a surprising success for such a wry and literate series.
There are more mainstream pop culture parodies within the Dave & Tom repertoire as well, but even those canter off into unexpected tangents. There’s the Jedi knight felled by technological malfunction; a crime show spoof that references white dwarves and Asian mysticism; and even a breakfast cereal commercial that extols the virtues of starting the day with a heaping bowl of Raisin Brahms — as hawked by its namesake German composer. And according to TubeMogul, Dave & Tom’s assorted web offerings have accumulated an impressive 12 million hits thus far. In an age where the knuckle-dragging “comedy” of the Jackass reality franchise profitably milks America’s illiterate underbelly for laughs, it’s heartening to discover that there’s still an audience for the multi-syllabic punchline.
While Dave & Tom’s artful anglophilia is clearly steeped in a nostalgia for the more subtly flavored comedy of yesteryear, it’s surprisingly fit for modern consumption. There’s not a dead parrot in sight, but plenty of time-traveling historians and inept bookshop proprietors rouse the specter of ye olde English sketch show….and even teach it a few new tricks.
This review, along with more details about the show, can be found at NewTeeVee Station.