Tears of a clown..Pic courtesy of Wikipedia
I’m back in the Central Market Café.. It’s chilly and overcast outside, possibly about to rain. I’m eating a strawberry goat cheese muffin and drinking Guatemalan coffee with inflections of apple and vanilla. It took me 10 minutes to park, and their express checkout lines are 35 people deep. I think what we might need, HEB, is some more of these places. A team of Spanish soccer players just sat behind me.. the people-watching here is without equal.
My job has become incredibly busy. I volunteered for a “bleeding edge” technology assignment and I’m getting the expected pandemonium from that. Am hoping that we get things back on an even keel before too long.
For some reason, February has become a month for major series and movie premieres. We have a new Cohen Brothers movie (Hail Caesar) and a new Zoolander movie. TV is giving us the OJ Trial (FX’s American Crime Story), and a new X Files with the original writers and actors at their paranormal best. NBC is giving us an incredible British-American ensemble with You, Me and the Apocalypse. Its far-fetched premise still lands upon genuine pathos and humor.
The little show that has grabbed me completely, is a half hour FX comedy titled Baskets. It stars Zach Galifianakis as a failed clown, Chip Baskets, who has to move back in with his portly mother in Bakersfield, California. His mother is played with credibility and hilarity by male stand-up comedian Louis Anderson. With muumuu and wig, Anderson could easily play his own mom – maybe yours or mine too.
Chip is dogged by his much more successful twin brother Dale, also played by Galifianakis. Dale is a smarmy businessman who’s moderately successful life coaching center has outshined the unfortunate Chip. Among other indignities, Chip is married to a French beauty who loves him not – she only married him for a green card. She teases him with her scantily clad body, making it clear it is look but don’t touch.
Chip engages as a rodeo clown where there is basically no minimum standard. The manager lets him know that it’s a tiny wage with a high risk of injury. Anyone willing to make that wager is hired. Chip takes the job, but with the drawback of having to live at home.
Last but not least is Martha, the dull, plain Jane insurance adjuster who has come to nurture a crush on Chip. She drives him around in her Olds Cierra, helping him in his various attempts to win back his wife (that he never had) and to otherwise establish a modicum of his self-respect. Martha and Chip’s mother together create the surreal gravity that holds this weird universe together.
Coming from the house of dysfunction myself, I love how the freaky is oddly familiar. I love that laugh-out-loud moments might immediately be followed by a moment of sad reflection and introspection.
I also enjoy Chip’s complete inability to see himself, his marriage, his family, his career choice or Martha in any accurate light. His delusions carry each episode on gilded wings to the next ridiculous situation. The long-suffering Martha picks him up off the floor.. and so we go again. If you have FX on cable, please make it a point to see this wonderful show. It only has 8 episodes for season 1 and there’s no guarantee of a season 2 – see it while you can.
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