Monday, May 8, 2023

This Old MadTV, "Antiques Roadshow," Parody Remains a Masterclass in Comedy

I loved, "MadTV," when it was on the air. It could be quite hit-or-miss, but when it, "Hit," the results were sheer hilarity. The show was brought back some years ago on another network but apparently was horrible. The original series was a hoot, however, and one of my favorite skits would be a three-parter from a single episode. Throughout the episode, we witness a hilarious parody of, "Antiques Roadshow," that manages to lay out how to do perfect comedy while also cleverly twisting the famous, "Rule of Three."

The Rule of Three or, "Comic Triple," basically means that a grouping or pattern can be quite hilarious. Something is funny the first time and makes you laugh even more the second time. Then the tension and anticipation for the third occurrence results in you guffawing harder than ever. The MadTV take on, "Antiques Roadshow," uses the Rule of Three while also taking advantage of audience expectations to supply an even funnier twist.

The first skit establishes the general idea. A British(?) man named Fenton Kenilworth (portrayed by Will Sasso) tells a woman who brought him a flask some shocking news--basically that an older relative was in fact an opium junkie who engaged in sex work via, "Orally servicing Chinese rail workers."  The woman (Mo Collins) is at first aghast, but upon learning how the flask is worth a chunk of change, becomes quite pleased. Observe:

The second skit features good ol' Fenton with another woman (Debra Wilson) who found a strange old dress at her Grandfather's estate. It turns out her Grandfather was a vaudeville drag performer...who also turned to, "Whoring," to support an opium habit. The result was that he--you guessed it turned to, "Orally servicing Chinese rail workers." Wilson dislikes hearing this shocking news about her Grandfather and says she doesn't even want the dress, but as you can probably predict decides to keep it after hearing it has a lot of value. Here is that skit:

This leads us to the third skit where viewers might think they can anticipate what is going to happen. Alex Bornstein has brought a candelabra for Fenton to appraise. However, things go quite differently than before in this skit. Watch it and then we can break it down:

Wasn't that quite the swerve? Bornstein knows full well she had a, "Whoring Granny, we called her, 'Granny BJ.'" Fenton seems outright perturbed he doesn't get to upset her with the news of her grandmother engaging in sex work. He tells her of its great value with little joy, but then the big twist happens--she had it cleaned/replated.

If you or anyone around you knows anything about antiques, you basically don't ever engage in restoration except in rare cases (and with an expert involved). Bornstein's character knew full well her Grandmother was orally servicing rail workers but didn't know she'd utterly destroy the value of her antique. Fenton now gets excited to tell Bornstein about this because the dude clearly is twisted and we viewers just got taken on a wild rollercoaster of anticipating the Rule of Three taking us one way but it zigging right where we expected the zag. It's ingenious and some damn fine comedic work. Yes, it is a bit raunchy and offensive, but it also is very clever. Man, I miss MadTV in its prime.

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