Let me address this right off the top: I'm not a huge Dane Cook fan. That's right I said it - feel free to shun me or send me out into exile for not being one of his 1,000,000 myspace friends. I find him somewhat amusing, but there has always been something below the surface that bothers me about him. Perhaps it's the fact that I still remember his act from a couple years ago (before he was the flavor of the month) where he was running around in black wife-beaters with his hair slicked back and a drum kit on stage. He was the crazy comedian for the extreme Limp Bizkit-loving crowd at the time and I suppose I've never fully forgiven him for that. I mean seriously - look at that photo. In my book, you don't get a free pass for that no matter how you re-purpose your image as the guy who poses for pictures with your adoring fans or make exuberant hand motions with every word you say. Still, I tuned into the premiere of Tourgasm on HBO Sunday Night. The show is marketed as a documentary of life on the road featuring Cook and three unknown comedians. I figured if nothing else, it had to be better than the premiere of the new Louis CK sitcom that preceded it. (By the way, Louis CK's show might be the worst show EVER to air on HBO. EVER. Seriously, not only does this show makes Arli$$ look like Seinfeld, but it makes Real Sex 27 look like Real Sex 12! Oh yeah, it's that bad.)
So where do I start with Tourgasm. It has several problems. The first being that the three guys on tour not named Dane Cook aren't funny. This is a significant issue considering that they're comedians. Here's a sample of one of the "jokes" from "comedian" Jay Davis:
"The names they give hurricanes are too nice. They should name a hurricane after my ex-girlfriend; hurricane bitch!"
I would pause and let you get the laughs out of your system before continuing, but if you're laughing at that, you're retarded. I'm sorry to break it to you this way. If you didn't find it funny, don't worry - the first episode contained no more than 90 seconds of stand-up from each participant (but who wants to see comedians doing stand-up anyway?)
The larger problem with the show lies squarely on Dane Cook, who is not only supringly unfunny off-stage, but also serves as the director and executive producer of the show. For a look "behind the curtain" of life on the road for a comedian, the only thing I'm sure of is that these guys are boring. Guess what they do during their down time in Seattle? They go to the fish-throwing market that you might recall from EVERY SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION THAT FEATURES SEATTLE. Why not just visit a Starbucks, light a candle for Kurt Cobain, and let Shawn Kemp impregnate you while you're at it? I kept hoping Stephen from The Real World would show up and at least slap somebody in the face, but it wasn't to be. From a directing standpoint, Cook forces you to sit through long, boring arguments about pornography on the tour bus which a) couldn't be less funny, b) seem to have been created just for the camera, and c) result in a grown man crying on screen.
The bottom line is that the show fails on pretty much every level. Cook repeatedly states on-camera that there's never really been a show to go behind the scenes of stand-up life on the road. In fact, not only did The Comedians of Comedy already showcase this premise last year, but they did it in a much funnier and unique method than the cast of Tourgasm (probably due to the fact that it was shot and edited by an outside director.) With Cook being marketed as the next big thing in stand-up comedy, I imagine many people tuned in waiting to see what all the fuss was about. By the end of the episode, they were probably still waiting.