Last year we introduced you to The Birthday Boys, a sketch group based out of Los Angeles that landed their own TV series. You can read about them in this previous article.
Not a lot has changed since last year as far as their format. They still follow a format of a general anchor sketch that reoccurs throughout with several side sketches. They are still masters of brevity; the first episode had 11 different scenes while the second had 12 scenes in a 21 minute running time. A lot really gets packed in. It flies by very quickly largely due form moving from one sketch to another; it never feels bogged down or stays on one topic long enough to wear out the premise. The Birthday Boys also manages to keep the sketches relatively generic. That is not meant as an insult but rather speaks to the non-specific manner of the sketches. For example, Saturday Night Live tends to be very topical and in the moment which is great but can also make some things feel outdated. The Birthday Boys tends to stay away from this which allows for sketches you could probably watch 10 years from now and they would be just as effective.
One thing that can be said about the show is that the writing has appeared to mature greatly since the first season. The same tone and voice still exists but there is a stronger theme to the episodes. Last season had an anchor sketch with relatively loosely theme-based supporting sketches but this year all of the sketches seem to tie in more strongly to the theme of the episode. It feels much more unified and leads to a strong finish at the end of the episode. Perhaps there was more time to write on this season but based on the first two episodes it looks to be a strong one. It’s hard to talk about a show like this without giving away too much but here are some general overviews of the 2 episodes I watched.
Episode 1: “Snobs and Slobs” – The primary reoccurring sketch of this episode focuses attention on expensive clothing lines and how nobody would actually do the things they do in commercials if they spent that much on the clothing. This sketch works very well and features guest star Dana Carvey (Saturday Night Live) in a role perfect for him as snobby clothing line magnate. The entire episode actually sticks to s strong theme of people belonging to certain “groups” and what happens when those groups cross paths or somebody leaves the group. It covers a wide spread of “groups” from a smart political cartoonist (he will let you know just how smart he is), to selecting the right sperm donor, underground bands that sell out, and what happens when you introduce a person that has never had human contact to society. This all comes together very nicely at the end. It also has a well-placed cameo by Fabio that I found very funny.
Episode 2: “Wet Dreams May Come” – As the title might suggest, this episode is about dreams in whatever that might form in peoples’ lives. There are actually a couple of reoccurring sketches in this episode. One deals with pregnancy and a man trying to deal with being a father and the other is a longer story arc that ties a family together from its homeland years ago to modern America and making sure his children live the American Dream (which, as we all know, is to be a DJ). In this episode I found the side sketches to be very strong. They vary wildly from literal dreams, to achieving a goal of kicking an addiction, to dreams of finding extraterrestrial life. One of the best sketches in this episode taps into the often proposed idea of traveling back in time to kill Hitler. That sketch alone is worth watching this episode, not to say the other sketches are not good but it is addressed in a great way.
This is an incredibly fun show with gems throughout. Sometimes a certain sketch might not appeal to you but it quickly moves on to the next one which very well might. It should appeal to fans of sketch comedy from all genres whether a fan of Saturday Night Live or quirkier shows like Kids in the Hall or Mr. Show there is probably something in here for you.
Season 2 of The Birthday Boys returns Friday, October 17 at 11:30PM on IFC. Make sure to catch it or set your DVR today!