Would you like to be annoyed by two giddy comedians for the better part of two hours? Boy, do I ever have a treat for you – it’s Oh, Hello on Broadway on Netflix!
I have never particularly liked Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, played respectively by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. The two alte-kaker New York characters were fan favorites on Comedy Central’s late Kroll Show, and their act, Oh, Hello, was a mainstay of New York alt-comedy for years prior. Gil and George’s inexplicable popularity propelled them into an Off-Broadway show and eventually a Broadway show, which now has been filmed and made into a special for Netflix.
On Kroll Show, the occasional appearance of the Oh, Hello guys was tolerable – welcome, even. Their “Too Much Tuna” prank show was frequently funny, and Kroll Show ended before they had the chance to clobber every last bit of humor out of that particular joke. If, however, Gil and George had dominated just the slightest more screentime on Kroll Show, the show would’ve been borderline unwatchable. The characters are fun in tiny doses, nothing more.
The majority of Oh, Hello on Broadway is taken up by Gil and George insulting their live audience, the Netflix viewing audience, and theatergoers in general. There’s an extended, and humorless, bit wherein they just describe theater conventions and then reenact them: one-sided phone calls; coughing into handkerchief to convey fatal illness, etc. Early in the show, one of the two interchangeable hosts describes the live audience as being exclusively composed of “comedy nerds and theater dorks and children whose parents have made a severe miscalculation.” At one point, George says “for those of you observant enough to clock that this mezuzah is on the wrong side of the door, you’re at the right play.” You get the picture – it’s an hour-forty-five of bad dad jokes and vaguely Semitic references, with some egregiously obvious meta-takes on theater convention tossed in for good measure (“audiences like to be screamed at… the backbone of contemporary American theater is screaming stuff.”)
Every joke is fed to the audience via a metaphorical giant, overflowing soup ladle. There’s not one gag in the special that isn’t stomped to death by repetition or simple negligence. The best bit in the show involves a particularly esteemed Broadway star who shows up in a surprising and brief cameo; its minimalism had me thinking that someone involved in Oh, Hello possessed some restraint after all. But no, wouldn’t you know it: as soon as the lights come down and Gil and George walk backstage, there’s that joke again; Oh Hello will hammer the humor into your skull or it will die trying. And it does, it dies trying.
An aggravating, interminable ball of rambling agitation. That’s what Oh, Hello on Broadway is. Not even Steve Martin can save this lost cause – he shows up for Gil and George’s famous “Too Much Tuna” bit (always the highlight of their appearances on Kroll Show) but offers nothing in terms of actual laughs.
Perhaps Oh, Hello isn’t conducive to a comedy-special format. Maybe being in the live audience during the Broadway run actually made for a good night at the theater. There’s room to believe that Oh, Hello on Broadway was a good time. Oh, Hello on Broadway on Netflix, however, is simply dreadful.