Cover Story: Are We Not Men?

Kimmel and Carolla produce TV men really want to see

 
Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla



There is an episode of Taxi in which Latka's fiancée must meet with her future mother-in-law to find out the secret truth about men. Until she hears it, Simka cannot marry Latka.

His mother sits her soon-to-be daughter-in-law down and tells her, "Men are drunken lumps of lazy flesh," as well as a few more not-so-pleasant revelations.

A new show on Comedy Central looks not to dissuade these notions, but to celebrate them in the form of The Man Show (Wednesdays 10:30 p.m., repeats Saturday at 7 p.m.). Both hosts, Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, are pulling double duty. Kimmel is best known as Ben Stein's sidekick on Win Ben Stein's Money, while Carolla is the comic relief from MTV's Loveline.

Veterans of morning radio at Los Angeles' famous KROQ, the two are close friends in real life. In fact, Carolla got hired at KROQ by infiltrating the station and accosting Kimmel, who was then doing sports. Carolla had heard the station was looking for someone to train "Jimmy the Sports Guy" for an upcoming boxing match.

Grab the remote and scan through to 1999 and the birth (as it were) of The Man Show — or "30 minutes of beer commercial fun," as the network promotes it.

This is a little misleading, though, as most beer commercials pretty much stink. The Man Show, despite its outward appearance, does not. After a month on the air, things look fairly positive.

"It seems to be going well," Kimmel sates, "ratings are good, and that's all we care about. And no one's gotten hurt."

"Seriously hurt," Carolla adds.

But doesn't basic cable restrict The Man Show from showing the type of show men really, really want to see? One with wet T-shirt contests and so forth?

"We have boundary issues, as it is," Kimmel says, "If we were on HBO we'd be arguing 'Why can't we show the inside of a vagina?' "

"It's probably best, come to think of it," Carolla concurs. "The show is a comedy, first and foremost. It's supposed to be smart without being highbrow."

At this, the program succeeds. Yes, there are jokes about flatulence and feces, but there are also more inventive and clever bits, all built within the framework of what men really want from television. The trademark bit at this point would appear to be the show's ending, in which girls jump on trampolines.

There is a conscious effort, however, to avoid the hackneyed and obvious. "You'll never hear the word 'Viagra' on our show," Kimmel insists. "Its such a comedy trigger word. So Jay Leno."

Instead, you can watch Jimmy Kimmel dispense advice to his young son: How to play blackjack, the importance of ESPN and so on. You may even learn a thing or two.

In the premiere episode, Cindy Crawford showed how to fix a leaking toilet. It's done strictly for yuks, but then again, it may prove useful to somebody.

The pace of the show, too, is varied enough, so that things don't go on too long. Come in, drop the bombs and fly out of there for the most part.

"A lot of people approach TV that way," Carolla says. "I think you get a headache eventually (from the fast pace)." So there are longer bits including The Man Show Hall of Fame. The first inductee, Scott Baio, is profiled, and it's explained why he is being so honored. Essentially it's because, though not very talented, he's bagged a lot of attractive starlets in Hollywood. Baio, unfortunately was not able to accept the award as he was out ... well, you know.

Guests won't be seen often on The Man Show. "If John Madden wants to do the show, he can," says Carolla.

Adds Kimmel, "Unless they're a freak like the guy who's got breasts."

If the show's early success continues, a movie may be in the works, no? "We hope so," says Kimmel.

Carolla already has the first bits of a plot. "Somehow we piss off the mob and have to take it on the lam."

"Or we infiltrate NOW," suggests Kimmel, referencing the National Organization for Women, "and have to dress like women, like Bosom Buddies."



The Man Show will air new episodes through the end of January.

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