This Joe Pera Talks With You review contains no spoilers.
It’s very easy to be negative these days. Unfortunately, it’s almost become the norm to feel like the weight of the world is just too unbearable and that we’re about to be crushed by never-ending stresses. It’s even easier to be cynical in the world of comedy, where an insult between friends can often resonate more than a pat on the back.
It can feel reassuring or empowering to wear this nihilistic armor, but at a point all of that negativity can fester and consume itself. The programs that populate Adult Swim’s lineup definitely skew more towards rudeness and the “hipness” of apathy. This is exactly why Joe Pera Talks With You is such an important antidote for the toxic culture of not just comedy, but the world at large.
There are few shows as sincere and straightforward as Joe Pera Talks With You, but the fact that this humble series that articulates the smaller wonders of life can still stand out and find an audience is a testament to the power of this show and its voice. The second season of Joe Pera Talks With You builds off of the strange confidence and rhythm of its first season, but succeeds in creating an even better and more unique comedy.
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Joe Pera Talks With You isn’t a complicated show, but therein lies its charm. Comedian and kind soul, Joe Pera, lets the audience into his incredibly wholesome world. Joe casually navigates through his passions as they offer insight into his past and the lives of the people around him. Joe carries out simple activities, but the way in which he conducts himself is just so genuinely unique and turns into its own brand of comedy. He can turn something basic like grocery shopping and break it down into a multi-step process that makes it seem like he’s teaching you a scientific formula.
This do-it-yourself aesthetic to Pera’s gentle comedy helps demystify his approach. It’s an energy that not only erases any negativity, but also still manages to be funny. The majority of the season’s topics all harken back to a simpler, more old-fashioned time that’s easy to get overlooked these days. There’s even a bit of a Look Around You quality in Joe Pera Talks With You where an episode begins in one place and it looks like it will tackle one topic, only for it to veer in a whole other direction. Yet, at the same time, all of this still feels justified by Joe’s strange transition.
The variety of topics that are explored this season demonstrate the same range as what was tackled in the first season, but they dip into crazier tangents this time. An episode about hiking can turn into a lengthy detour on baseball, for instance. Each topic focuses on itself, but they will also open up to a larger macrocosm where Joe can get existential about life. The most everyday occasions can set Joe off on some unexpected revelations about the human condition.
This season of Joe Pera Talks With You also features a little more serialization between its episodes. Each entry is definitely self-contained, but they pay reference to other installments from the season in subtle ways. It makes it feel like this is all apart of a deeper story for Joe and that each of these topics are making an impact and changing him in some ways. Episodes of the series still clock in at a tight eleven minutes, which continues to be the perfect length for this vehicle. No episode ever overstays its welcome. The storytelling present in the second season is only more confident as the series gets an even better grasp on what this show is.
As much as Joe’s unusual perspective remains the anchor for this series, the show’s second season works towards expanding the supporting characters in Joe’s life. This season spreads its focus more as Joe’s willing to open himself up to community and even enters into a relationship. It’s a comfortable angle as Joe is willing to share the loves of his life as he lets the audience in on these intimate, little secrets.
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To this end, Joe Pera Talks With You season 2 shares Joe’s spotlight with Jo Firestone’s Sarah as the two of them grow closer, which turns into a very cute, authentic relationship. Their dynamic really works, but it never impedes on Joe’s presence. Through all of this Joe remains the perfect center of calm. Even though he encounters so many chaotic and outrageous individuals on his journey, he never breaks or loses his collected demeanor.
Joe Pera Talks With You is still one of the most honest and heartwarming comedies that is currently on television. The show’s second season continues to perfect its formula and put Joe in ideal scenarios that showcase his signature brand of gentle comedy. There still may be a storm cloud that permanently hangs over the world, but soothing escapes like planting beans and running errands with Joe Pera help the darkness subside and the sun to shine through.
Joe Pera Talks With You season 2 premieres December 6 at midnight on Adult Swim
This review is based on three quarter-hour episodes from Joe Pera Talks With You season 2.
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Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, and Bloody Disgusting. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and that Hannibal is the greatest love story ever told. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.