Last month we talked about Machinima’s foray into the genre known as Tommy Wiseau, with the cleverly titled The Tommy Wi-Show. Wiseau, the modern-day celebrity manufactured by irony, his movie The Room navigating the midnight-screening territory of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, has a perfectly-tailored channel on YouTube to continue this tour of oddball lack of skill. The Tommy Wi-Show garners a fair amount of viewers, thankfully not as much as Machinima’s other original series going on right now, RCVR, which at this point can be declared a bona fide hit.
The Uninspired Structure of The Tommy Wi-Show
There have been three episodes of The Tommy Wi-Show thus far. Each of them has Wiseau suddenly finding himself on a spaceship, where an alien on a TV screen tells him that he needs to play a video game and “score points,” or something, for research, or whatever it is that aliens do. The alien, voiced by Brock LaBorde, is that typical alien voice, like someone with harp strings for vocal chords broadcast through an oscillating fan, or for anyone who knows what “Mini-Me,” Verne Troyer, sounds like. In the first episode, we find out that the aliens, after tireless searching, have found Wiseau to be the best video game player on the planet. Here’s the first episode, in which Wiseau stumbles through Mortal Kombat:
This would be hilarious, to those who are familiar with Wiseau, if he actually was good at playing video games, or at least given the appearance that he’s good at them. Yet, in each episode, we find that Wiseau is not very good at games, to the point that we wonder if he’s ever played one or knew what one was before agreeing to be on this show. Every game he’s played, he doesn’t know the controls, gets frustrated, calls for the alien to come help him, makes some strange Wiseau-esque comments (probably the draw for some) and then he is sent merrily back to Earth after playing the game poorly for a couple of minutes.
And that’s where this show fails, in that it has no stakes. I can discuss the various forms of humor and how we derive humor from certain situations and that would fill another article. But simply taking Wiseau’s ironic cult stardom and putting him in a situation where he can continue to be an awful performer without any redemption is mean-spirited. I mean I get the joke. Wiseau is a bad actor, and every episode puts that on display. That would be fine, if he could also be playing for something, and was good enough at video games to pull it off.
Taking the “plot” at face-value, we are supposed to believe that Wiseau is the best video game player alive, and that his playing the video games will somehow save himself, or Earth, or something. Wiseau is not good at games at all, horrible in fact, and can’t even get out of first round, or even learn the controls. But after every video game session, Wiseau is sent back to Earth. For what reason? I thought this was a kidnapping. I thought he had to do well to advance. I thought the aliens would be so evil, like Dr. Clayton Forrester in Mystery Science Theater 3000, and keep Wiseau on the ship no matter how well he did. Imagine how much funnier this show could be if Wiseau was a thumb jockey. I’m thinking that classic Chappelle’s Show skit where Prince is awesome at basketball. We get humor from the unexpected. The Tommy Wi-Show tries to get humor from the absolutely expected, which doesn’t work.
The Tommy Wi-Show Is In Love With A Tired Joke
And that’s the shame of it. The Tommy Wi-Show could still be an awesome display of horrible acting skill, but having Wiseau actually blowing the doors off these games would add a spirited humorous element. I imagine a boastful, cocky Wiseau easily handling the most challenging games and sputtering out his oddly-accented line-readings with victorious fervor. Instead, the creators of The Tommy Wi-Show exposed their hand way to early: this is a lazy examination of Tommy Wiseau playing a video game and not knowing what to do, so we can laugh at him being awful. I get the joke. It’s been done three episodes now. They failed.