The Beaverton is an occasionally funny The Onion imitator that you’ve probably come across on your Facebook feed. Its creators are now branching out with an un-funny Daily Show imitator that lands more as a knock-off of This Hour has 22 Minutes as written by CBC Punchline alumni.
The show has the distinction of being the most Canadian of all our lacklustre comedies in that it has no sense of its own identity: it can’t decide if it wants to play it straight like The Onion or go the Daily Show route and engage with its audience. In true Canuck fashion it tries to meet somewhere in the middle and utterly fails. While the live-studio audience is there, the show’s bland, personality-devoid hosts don’t use that in any way. Every jokes lands with the same robotic laughter with none of the organic back-and-forth you get with Colbert or Oliver. Nothing bombs or cuts a little too deep and nothing ever feels at stake. The series plays it completely safe, its main targets being right-wing militiamen, right-wing Trump supporters, right-winged bros and right-wing Albertans, lest we ever consider that its writers were somehow on the wrong side of progress.
Everyone on camera is a graduate from the ACTRA school of performance, so you’re constantly aware that you’re watching actors, killing the satire. The militiaman in the Vice-spoof segment is the worst of the lot, mugging it up like he’s spent his whole career up to this point in silent film. For all you Boyd Banks fan, rest assured that he shows up (as is guaranteed by our Charter). Here, he plays an embittered alcoholic, drinking from a giant forty so we know he’s an alcoholic and because big props are funny.
The gags – such as they are – are mostly just juxtaposing dated pop culture references with topical political/social issues. There’s one bit about Kim Kardashian starting a charity to give homeless people big butts. Another has Trudeau creating a dubsmash video with oil company executives. Aside from not being funny, the hosts’ delivery is so rapid fire there’s no setup or regard for timing, its like a nervous fourth grader reciting their book report in front of the whole class and wetting themselves. Oh, and rather than show us Kardashian’s butts or Trudeau’s viral videos, the jokes are just described by the host accompanied by some awful Photoshoping.
The nadir of this whole approach is a segment on entitled teens fucking around on a Birthright tour of Israel. It was the closest the show came to being funny, completely undercut by having the scenario related by a lone actor standing against a green screen. This is screenwriting 101, people: Don’t TELL us the Blowjob at the holocaust memorial, SHOW us.
Collectively, we Canadians have already invested at least $4 Million in the production of this bland, inoffensive exercise in growing the brand. Given that The Comedy Network is the same channel that gave us eight seasons of Kevin Spencer, we could be in for many millions more. We do this because we can’t be trusted with our own money and tepid crap like The Beaverton is the only thing protecting us from the foreign content that we actually want to watch.