New workplace comedy from creators Matt Ingebretson, Jake Weisman and Pat Bishop takes a darker approach to the familiar "work sucks" premise.
But if you love your corporate job, you might hate to watch a show that tears apart the very fabric of your futile existence.
At first glance, the premise sounds familiar: A couple doofuses bumble their way through an office job while hating every second of it, yet simultaneously aspiring to succeed in the corporate work environment. Wait, didn’t Comedy Central already do this via "Workaholics"? Is this an "Office" knockoff?
No, actually "Corporate" is wildly different in tone and visual style, while packing in about the same amount of laughs per episode —- unless you can’t find the humor in serious subjects like depression, suicide, war mongering and racism. (And that's just what we noticed in the first two episodes!)
This show is a dark, sick and twisted satire of everything awful in American workplaces, almost completely void of any optimism, mainly because it uses its corporate setting to make smart, depressing and often hilarious social commentary about the damage powerful, money-hungry corporations can do to employees and the world around them.
TooFab watched the first two episodes, which debut on TV Wednesday night, but have been available to stream for free on on Comedy Central's website for about a month.
The premiere follows stars and co-creators Matt Ingebretson and Jake Weisman —- who play junior executives in training at their company, Hampton DeVille -— as they are tasked with firing a social media manager who is guilty of tweeting a mildly offensive hurricane pun to promote a new product, which is now in danger as outraged Americans call for a boycott. It serves as an introduction to the dreary skyscraper of an office building and the generally awful characters (in a good way) that populate it, including the ruthless, tyrannical CEO, perfectly played by “The Wire” alum Lance Reddick, as well as his spineless lapdog lieutenants (Anne Dudek, Adam Lustick) and the more pleasant head of Human Resources, played by Apart Nancherla, plus a “social media guru” (Baron Vaughn) whose computer skills will likely extend to just about any technological-driven plot lines the creators dream up.
Suicide is the dominant theme of the premiere after compassion puts Matt and Jake’s job in jeopardy, and if that sounds like a downer, it only gets darker in Episode 2 when the company is competing for a contract to help the CIA start a war by supplying cheap weapons. It all comes down to, what else, a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, which Matt bravely volunteers to build while Jake plots a whistleblower scheme.
The jokes range from clever, blunt observations of the mundane ("I majored in English and that should be illegal.") to more sophisticated, even international commentary ("Wars are good. They create jobs, prevent over population and benefit the rich and powerful, which I plan to be one day.") These miserable characters are morally flawed, totally naive and ready to turn on each other to advance their own agenda, all while being a lot of fun to watch.
"Corporate" is Ingebretson and Weisman’s first major project in Hollywood -— but the pair are no strangers to the Los Angeles stand-up comedy scene and developed a following online by teaming up with fellow comedian Pat Bishop to make a series of amusing short films. While the two leads effortlessly shine on camera without much formal training or experience, Bishop shines behind it as director, using a number of cinematic elements —- dramatic camera movements, ominous lighting, original music -— to create a distinctive style with two types of consistency: 1.) this workplace is consistently awful and 2.) the episodes consistently offer zany vignettes brought to life through creative editing techniques that enhance the premise behind each unique bit.
There’s something here for fans of "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!" "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "South Park," "Wet Hot American Summer" and of course "Office Space" —- if they can stomach darker material without running to Twitter to complain about it.
Provided increasingly sensitive Americans can embrace this dark workplace comedy, we predict it will become a Comedy Central staple for years to come.
"Corporate" airs Wednesdays at 10/9c on Comedy Central