Workaholics (Photo: Comedy Central)

The guys decide to hold their own music festival (hastily christened “Faux Cella”) to impress some women. Not a bad starting point for an episode of Workaholics. We know Blake, Ders, and Adam are prone to impulsive actions where their few real desires (sex, weed, booze, not working) are concerned, a fact Blake lampshades when rallying his friends to action, calling Faux Cella something “that we threw for three random ladies that we met for like 10 minutes at the bar the other day.”

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And it is an appropriately ramshackle operation—although, like with their front-yard wrestling extravaganza, the four stages (plus merch) seem to require an awful lot of money and effort. Adam attempts to wow the half-dozen or so bored guys in attendance with his spazzy feats of strength and butt-cheek corn-shucking skills. (Neither goes well.) Ders (a.k.a. “The Dogfather of Comedy,” complete with airbrushed shirt bearing the name) does exclusively, enthusiastically exhausting dog-centric standup material. (There are lots of poop jokes.) And Blake, repeatedly thwarted by Ders and Adam, just wants to Riverdance. (They variously set his shoes on fire and pull his pants down, exposing his infamous micropenis.) Adam’s boast that they’ll be able to secure a performance from Third Eye Blind rests on his emails to their supposed webmaster, the French-sounding (to Adam) Monsieur Mailer Daemon. So, you know, ding-dong business as usual.

And ding-dong business is what Workaholics, at its best, does very well. Unfortunately, there are tonal and structural problems here that make “Faux Cella” more dispiriting and loud than particularly funny. For one thing, the fake music festival idea is where the episode’s energy needs to be. Instead, the guys take off for a trip to the hospital mid-way through the shenanigans to have their tender heinies treated after Blake calls his estranged biker Uncle Mike to avenge him after Adam and Ders set his shoes on fire (and piss on them to put them out). Blake gets paddled, too, since Uncle Mike (played by UFC legend Chuck Liddell) doesn’t like the sight of Blake’s Riverdance dance belt, and is a bit of a psycho. At the hospital (where they get a room right away because of that sweet TelAmeriCorp insurance), the guys continue their bare-assed fight, throwing bloody medical waste on each other and eventually disturbing the crotchety old man in the next bed. (Character actor legend Paul Dooley, somehow retaining his dignity even while asked to emote from the crapper.) And that’s all before the one, perhaps most gullible, woman from the bar shows up back at the house with her mom and stepdad because they all really love Third Eye Blind. (She does, however, disabuse Adam of the idea that his emails are getting through.)

It’s a lot of side-business for a short 20 minutes, and that’s not even counting the sub-plot about the guys bringing along the disgruntled, uninsured patients from the hospital waiting room. (A few of them may croak during the show.) But the bigger problem is that Workaholics is so casual about its’ protagonists’ personalities that the guys’ nonsense isn’t grounded in character. To put it bluntly, Adam and Ders are over-the-top assholes to Blake here simply because the plot demands it. Ders has a line about Riverdancing making women’s “vaginas just swell closed,” but Ders and Adam’s honking laughter when they pull Blake’s pants down in public is brutal. And, after they attack Blake to stop him dancing at Faux Chella (where there aren’t even any women present), Blake’s tears and furious, “You frickin’ psychos, I hate you!” is too well-sold by Blake Anderson to be remotely funny. Continuing at the hospital (until wise old man Dooley shares a story about friendship and regret), Adam and Ders’ abuse of Blake jars the episode out of the “enjoyably scabrous chaos” zone into just plain unpleasant.

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From the chaos, there are, as ever, some weirdly funny details to pick out. Adam’s repeated, offhand, “Shut up real quick” to Dooley’s helpful codger is well-calibrated to Adam’s selfish self-obsession. The nice, sick old lady patient’s obsession with the guys fraudulent “Make-A-Wish” operation taking her to hang out with Cameron Diaz is nicely random. (“She loves action sports!”) And Uncle Mike’s eventual emotional breakdown—Janet at work is all over his ass—closes things out on something of an up note. (Ders and Adam’s lip-synch of Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” does the trick, along with Blake’s triumphant Riverdance.) Still, like the guys’ conflict, their inevitable reconciliation is rushed and unconvincing.

Stray observations

  • Karl’s band (also Kyle Newacheck’s band), “Fade Up, Fade Out, Bye Bye!” plays throughout the episode. Their goofy, cool-jazz swing is a lot better than you’d imagine a Karl-fronted band would be.
  • Paul Dooley, at 89, remains a trouper. In addition to memorable dad roles in Sixteen Candles and Breaking Away, I suggest hunting down one of his only leads in the Robert Altman-directed sleeper A Perfect Couple.
  • Chuck Liddell does fine as a grunting, violent nutjob.
  • Karl, singing from the bar stage: “How many times a day to you wish you had a bigger dick?” Blake: “Seven.”

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