Noah Reynolds ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that a huge portion of the general population has an irrational fear of clowns. Clowns have always been painted in a creepy and ominous light. From Stephen King’s It to Twisty, the psychotic murderer clown on American Horror Story, these colorful, face-painted characters of literature, TV, and film have forever been a staple of the horror genre.
But now with the premiere of FX’s new show Baskets, the clown, and indeed the art of clowning, is finally being represented in its rightful place on television: the comedy show. And who better to be the poster child of this neo-clown revolution than the comedian Zach Galifianakis.
Baskets follows the story of struggling clown Chip Baskets (Zach Galifianakis), who is forced to give up his dream of becoming a professional in the French clown world after realizing he didn’t have what it took.
Chip is fresh off of a failed education at a prestigious clowning college in Paris. The fact that he didn’t speak a word of French certainly played a role in his ultimate failure at the school. Knowing he wouldn’t succeed in the grueling and competitive clowning scene of Paris, Chip decides to return home to Bakersfield, California, to start anew.
The only clown opening, unfortunately, is at a local rodeo. Chip’s artistic and professional French training will hardly do him any good when it comes to being chased around by bulls. Eddie, the rodeo owner, tells Chip on his first day that “all the clowns leave” and “you’ll leave too.” Hilarity ensues as Chip tries to get reacclimated to his life back in the United States.
Baskets is filled with its fair share of what many would consider quintessential Galifianakis comedy: pants indiscriminately falling down, crashing into car doors, yelling at his mother in church (who, side note: is played by Louie Anderson), and screaming at a drive-through clerk for not having the right beverage. All of these and more can be seen in this show.
Unlike the two-dimensional, slapstick performance that made up Galifianakis’s comedy in his breakout role in the Hangover franchise, the humor that comes from the Chip Baskets character is much more authentic and human.
His classic, self-deprecating humor is apparent as the viewer follows the ever-increasing troubles of Chip. Fans of Galifianakis’s catalyst stand-up special performance Live at The Purple Onion (2006) will also love this show.
And like many successful comedies on FX these days, the comedic genius that is Louis C.K. plays a huge role in the production of this show.
In August, a few months following the end of season five of his enormously successful FX show Louie, Louis C.K. announced that the show would be going on an “extended hiatus,” to comedy fans’ dismay everywhere. As it turns out, Louis C.K. had other projects in the works, one of which has turned out to be Baskets.
With the creative help of Louis C.K., who is now co-creating, executive producing, and writing the show, the audience can certainly sense a darker, more Louie type of comedy. The C.K.-Galifianakis collaboration is a clash of sad, dark, and real humor with the more absurd, satirical, and slapstick. This has forced Galifianakis to expand his range of comedy from just being the idiot who screws everything up to being a struggling artist who just wants to succeed. The viewer certainly gets a taste of Galifianakis’s more serious side, similar to his performance in Birdman.
In episode two of Baskets, Chip is having a conversation with a clown in training. After a rough day, the trainee, a confused Insane Clown Posse fan, turns to Chip and says, “I’mma have to get a real job.” Chip replies, “This is a real job. We all can’t be florists or dishwashers, some of us have to be artists.”
The true essence of this show is understanding the artistic struggle of a truly dedicated individual who just can’t seem to catch a break. C.K. and Galifianakis are a comedy duo to be reckoned with, and Baskets is a new show to be looking out for.