Pop Culture Gadabout
Thursday, January 25, 2007
      ( 1/25/2007 10:17:00 AM ) Bill S.  

TORRID, TWISTED TRAVEL TALES – First time I noticed Dave "Gruber" Allen was as the 3rd part of the improv comedy troupe, the Higgins Boys & Gruber. The threesome hosted a weekday timeslot back in the days when Comedy Central was just a Channel. In their bloc of Com Channel time, the boys would sit around a kitchen set, introducing episodes of "Clutch Cargo" and "Supercar" and engaging in the occasional sketch. In one of the more memorable bits, Grube anticipated his nekkid trucker character by attempting to revive the 70's fad of streaking. It did not, thankfully, take, though the sound of skinny-ass Gruber singing the chorus to Ray Stevens' "The Streak" remains lodged within my memory.

I followed Grube to Freaks and Geeks, where the longhaired string-bean had a memorable role as a Grateful Dead-luvin' h.s. teacher (turned Linda Cardellini's former mathlete onto the joys of American Beauty, if I recall), then periodically noticed him in small roles on sundry teevee shows (another teacher on Malcolm in the Middle, a guy beneath the desk on Conan, etc.) But The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show is his first decent billing in way too long. Allen has a wry way of delivering even the dopiest lines that can be plenty amusing – and even though he spends his time with a guitar, trucker's hat, white socks and work boots as his only apparel, turns out that he's the voice of reason on this Comedy Central series. Partner Gerald "T-Bones" Tibbons (David Koechner, another busy supporting character comic) is the loony 'un.

On the basis of its premiere, the duo's new show is a slapped-together blend of staged and filmed antics – kinda like the old Jack Benny program in structure, though much more deliberately outlandish. In the debut, for instance, we're told how T-Bones attempts to sell a song that Trucker's written: the two show up unannounced at the home of a big-time record producer, and T-Bones breaks into the absent record mogul's house, leaving his unclothed bud to stand out in front where his naked-ass-self naturally attracts the attention of the neighbors. When the cops appear and find T-Bones using the producer's bathtub, he initially resists their order to step out of the tub. "I feel threatened," Koechner explains in his good-ol'-boy slur, "so, of course, I have an erection!"

Gotta admit that made me laff, though a later bit where T-Bones attempts to tack a rap onto the Trucker's song to make a video promoting Speedboat Glen's was more ragged than funny. Felt better about a second segment devoted to the "Hitchhiker of the Week." The filmed sequence featured a guest turn by Will Ferrell as a technophobe in a jogging suit who starts lambasting the Trucker for being part of The Machine. Listening to Ferrell babble like a character in a bad 30's "scientifiction" story brought back pleasant memories of some of the Higgins Boys & Gruber's goonier kitchen table debates. A good sign . . .
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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