At some risk to my reputation for being alert, aware, and informed, I have to say that I only discovered the TV show, Reno 911, earlier this year, and I wouldn't have found it at all had it not been for Wendy Covey's appearance on Red Eye. She was so subtly hilarious that I had to check out the show in which Greg Gutfeld told us she was one of the cast members.
Being that it was on Comedy Central, I expected to be severely disappointed since this is where great comedians go to die, and every mediocre comedian gets his or her own special, but if you're familiar with Reno 911, you know where this is headed and can stop reading now. This is for people who are not aware that the show may be the funniest thing to ever air on television, and even though it owes its roots to Monty Python, that show was never like this – nonstop laugh-out-loud.
Like Python, every character is unique, dysfunctional, and funny just to look at, but unlike Python, the situations they get into as police officers are actually believable – you know that somewhere, sometime in America, some police man or woman had an encounter exactly like the one you're seeing on screen. Sometimes you pity the unfortunate officer, and other times you pity the perp, but no matter how outrageous or dangerous, you can't stop laughing.
Another thing I like about this show is that it demonstrates there's a huge difference between prejudice and bigotry. The former is about having preconceived ideas about race or ethnicity… or waitresses, many of which are well-founded and necessary to a sense of perspective and safety, but which have little if any impact on a person's actual interactions with a certain group, and which may even add to the richness of an experience. Bigotry, on the other hand, is the active attempt to exclude people and hinder them from attaining their own desired dreams, even if they don't conflict with yours and might even enhance your own opportunities.
The officers of Reno 911 are prejudiced against just about everyone, especially each other, but they still sink or swim together, and they're at their best when they are all going down as a group. Then they start blaming each other as the cause, and when they hit bottom, they pick themselves up as one and continue on. No calamity is too great that they're overly worried about it, and in that we learn a good lesson – to accept where we are and attempt to improve on it.
Then there are the running gags that are close to ingenious. You even see them coming a mile away and they're still funny. Like the perennial argument between two officers in their car which always results in an unplanned and abrupt stop. Another is how the bad guys always manage to sucker an officer into taking up a challenge of the nature that "If you didn't have that badge and that gun, I'd beat your head in."
And of course, the law, apparently any law, doesn't apply to these cops themselves, though I don't believe they've killed anyone yet, at least on purpose. "Lieutenant Dangle" did, however, shoot one officer in the head while demonstrating firearms safety or some such thing.
My favorite cast member is Jonesy, but like everything else with this show, I'd hate to be forced to choose one of them. Trudy is flat-out nuts, and Lieutenant Dangle was a guy I'd seen once but didn't realize it until I looked at his credits. He played the dealer when Friends went to Vegas and Joey thought they had identical hands. You'd never know from that limited exposure that Thomas Lennon was a comic genius. He very much reminds me of Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther movies.
Most shocking to me is how the cast gives new meaning to the term "uninhibited." I often can't believe they do the things they do. My wife says, "They're just acting." Well, I'm not talking about the characters, I don't think I could do some of the things you see them do even as an actor. But I'm glad they can do them because while they may sometimes approach the limits of decency and vulgarity, they never cross the line in my opinion.
Since I discovered Reno, I can't get enough, so it's lucky that it's on a number of times a day on different channels. The one caveat: it can be gross and shocking in its content, so no children should be viewing, even if one of the funniest scenes I recall is that of a young black kid giving his description of a woman to the above mentioned Wendy who plays Clementine, a former waitress/dancer turned cop.
And the funniest episode? Though they are all so good it's hard to choose, I think it's the one in which Islam is involved as the main storyline. You won't believe they were able to get it on the air, and then you realize how much you'd have missed if they hadn't – which they no doubt wouldn't have if the show had aired on the Fox Network instead of Comedy Central, as they had originally hoped it would.
So if you're like me and you weren't aware of Reno 911, you've got to check it out – now! Or as the officers might say, "Look at my partner and listen to me." And if you are turned off by the first episode you see, watch another. You'll soon find yourself laughing at things you could never have imagined you'd find funny.
One citizen-reviewer said Reno 911 has the highest "re-watchability quotient" of any show ever, and while it's still early for me, I'm sure not gonna disagree.