Played with flawless deadpan by Steve Tom as an ersatz Leslie Nielsen, Haligan is the host of Funny or Die Presents, but also the Head of West Coast Sales & Marketing for the fictional Funny or Die Network, programming from which this sketch series is built. For season two, Haligan may have traded his sterile-white office for one colored in Mad Men-style brown and beige, but he’s otherwise stuck in his alcoholic, womanizing, change-hating ways, particularly when it comes to the Internet: “Pornography was more social in the old days.”
Virtually none of the first year’s recurring bits are back. In their place are all-new “shows” like:
• Adam West Hits on You … Hard, which is exactly what it sounds like;
• actual Bathroom Conversations re-enacted by the gifted Andrea Savage and friends;
• Lady Refs, chronicling the soap opera-worthy drama of lesbian soccer referees on and off the field; and
• United States Police Department, a funny Law & Order spoof starring June Diane Raphael and Seth Morris as partners Det. Phuk and Lt. Ducca, respectively.
My favorite is Mitch Magee’s Welcome to My Study, in which the über-creepy Mitchell simply pulls random items from a desk: “So what else is inside my study drawers?” It’s the kind of absurdist humor that strikes hard, if only it strikes just the right people. Ditto for John and Will’s Animal Choices, a bizarre nature rap (“All day long / I eat and shit monkeys”) between John C. Reilly (Wreck-It Ralph) and Will Ferrell (The Campaign), and — needless to say — overseen by the Tim and Eric comedy team of anti-comedy.
Like SCTV for the Frat Pack, Funny or Die Presents is a show that, while often unbalanced and spotty, is too attuned by my admittedly off-kilter wavelength to dislike. Lines like “Dude, The Celestine Prophecy will fuck you up” ring golden, and an array of guest stars proves game for anything, from national treasure Gary Cole to rising star Ben Schwartz, who clearly needs his own show. —Rod Lott