Clearly America has a high tolerance for misanthropes and social outcasts — Larry David’s whole career is based on that, after all. But how much pleasure can really be derived from watching someone be an awful human being? I guess it depends on how long you have to do it for.
Today, Atom.com is debuting House Arrest with Andy Dick, a five-episode series featuring the comedian as the host of his own low-fi talk show. Hosting a talk show in your house is nothing new — Bob Kushell‘s Crackle series adores its garage location, and Tom Green will let anyone stop by his pad. But making court-enforced confinement into a gimmick for a web series? That’s something new.
Andy Dick, after a drug-related incident outside a restaurant last July, was recently fitted with a SCRAM anklet (to detect alcohol or drug consumption) and confined to his home, which drives most of the jokes of House Arrest. The jokes that don’t involve his condition focus on making the guests as uncomfortable as possible and deconstructing the talk show experience.
In the first two episodes, Dick interrupts Cheaters‘s Joey Greco mid-sentence to swap out their chairs, and he makes MAD TV‘s Mo Collins go back out to her car to swap her gym clothes for a cute dress (the camera captures her mid-change). Who knows what humiliations await future guests Greg Grunberg, Dr. Drew Pinsky, and Jennifer Coolidge? We won’t have to wait long to find out, as subsequent episodes will be running through the end of the week.
While Greco and Collins both seem fairly game for the experience, each episode is still an awkward five minutes, and deliberately so — the sort of edgy comedy that Ricky Gervais wielded like a fencing saber on The Office and Extras, and Dick bashes around like a caveman’s club.
But I’d find Dick’s on-camera persona a lot funnier if, after living in Los Angeles for almost 10 years now, I wasn’t privy to literally dozens of stories about what a jerk he actually is in the real world. While Dick has stated that the cause of his more outrageous behavior was down to his past drinking (according to the tabloids, he has been clean and sober for eight months now), House Arrest still doesn’t make the guy seem all that likable.
But the show is wholly his creation (he’s credited as writer, director, and star) and so we can only assume that this is the real Andy Dick, free of the substance abuse. And that Andy Dick is pretty fun to watch — but only in five-minute spurts.