Charlie Sheen is finally coming back to TV everyone!!!! Splitsider readers will no doubt be dancing in the streets when the Two and a Half Men man himself returns to our television sets with a new show this June, but that’s not the only TV comedy event of note this summer. While the broadcast networks are taking a much-needed three-month break (probably to reflect on the rapidly-declining popularity of broadcast networks), America’s heroic cable channels are swooping in to save the day, offering up a plethora of new comedic programming for comedy snobs and people who like comedy but aren’t snobs, alike.
Let’s take a look at this summer’s TV crop, including the long-awaited returns of Louis C.K. and Charlie Sheen, the television debut of Scott Aukerman’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, and new shows from Russell Brand, Eric Andre, The Office’s Kate Flannery, and Kurt Braunohler.
Workaholics – Comedy Central – Season 3 debuts Tues., May 29th at 10:30pm
It’s rare for a live-action sitcom on Comedy Central to last beyond its initial season, but Workaholics has joined the ranks of The Sarah Silverman Program and Reno 911!, becoming one of only three Comedy Central live-action sitcoms in the past decade to last more than one year. Workaholics’ third season kicks off later this month and should see the show (along with lead-in Tosh.0) continue to cash in on that elusive young male demographic, which seems to be Comedy Central’s main priority these days.
Futurama – Comedy Central – Season 7 debuts Wed., June 20th at 10pm
Futurama’s new home at Comedy Central is working out just fine, with the animated sci-fi comedy returning with brand new episodes this summer. Plotlines this season involve Zapp Brannigan setting his sights on Leela’s mother, Bender joining the paparazzi, and the Planet Express crew panicking over an ancient prophecy that the world will end in 3012. Please watch Futurama and keep it on the air so that Matt Groening can continue to amass a fortune large enough to develop the technology to cryogenically freeze himself.
Wilfred – FX – Season 2 debuts Thurs., June 28th at 10pm
Wilfred hasn’t generated the same enthusiasm that FX’s other recent hit comedies (Archer, The League) have, but with any luck, its second season should see the show growing in popularity and quality – as second seasons are wont to do – and joining the ranks of those other shows. Wilfred, about a man (Elijah Wood) and his neighbor’s dog (Jason Zann), should have some extra heat on it because FX will be airing smack dab in the middle of a massive comedy block that also features new shows from Charlie Sheen and Russell Brand.
Louie – FX – Season 3 debuts Thurs., June 28th at 10:30pm
Easily the most eagerly-anticipated comedy event of the summer is the return of Louis C.K.’s groundbreaking FX show Louie. Not much is known about the new season, as this Woody Allen-esque promo is all we have to go off of, but I’m sure the13-episode block of new episodes will be full of surprises and candid appearances from big name guests in the comedy world. Hopefully, Dane Cook will be back and he will have learned how to pronounce “2006” by now.
Childrens Hospital – Adult Swim – Season 4 debuts TBA Summer
Rob Corddry’s delightful quarter-hour medical comedy Childrens Hospital is also due to return at some point this summer. It’ll be the longest season of the show yet with a whopping 14 episodes coming our ways this time around. Fun fact: 14 episodes of an 11-minute show totals up to how long an episode of Grey’s Anatomy feels like.
NTSF: SD: SUV:: - Adult Swim – Season 2 debuts TBA Summer
Childrens Hospital’s companion series, the crime procedural parody NTSF:SD:SUV:: will also be coming back to TV screens this summer, with the entire excellent ensemble (Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, Brandon Johnson, Rebecca Romijn, Kate Mulgrew, Martin Starr, and that robot) returning. I got to visit NTSF’s set a few months ago and I think I deserve a pat on the back for not accidentally wandering into the shot or breaking any film equipment.
The Eric Andre Show – Adult Swim – debuts Sun., May 20th at 12:30am (technically Mon., May 21st)
Those who only know Eric Andre from his regular role on ABC’s Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 are in for a surprise when his new talk show debuts next week on Adult Swim. The Eric Andre Show is an 11-minute deconstruction of late night talk shows that’s co-hosted by Hannibal Buress. I’ve seen the first episode, and the show is so out there, unpredictable and weird that I can’t really do it justice in words. Andre describes the show as “Space Ghost as a live-action show, with elements of Tom Green and Ali G and Jiminy Glick,” and I’d say that’s just about as close as you can come to accurately depicting this funny, unique series in words.
Comedy Bang! Bang! – IFC – debuts Fri., June 8th at 10pm
Based on the popular podcast and long-running L.A. standup show of the same name, Comedy Bang! Bang! is one of the most promising new comedies of the summer. It’s hosted by Scott Aukerman (who also hosts of the titular podcast, wrote for Mr. Show, and co-created Between Two Ferns), co-hosted by Reggie Watts, and will feature appearances from just about everybody in the comedy world. Folks like Zach Galifiankis, Michael Cera, Elizabeth Banks, Weird Al, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Ed Helms, Tenacious D, Paul F. Tompkins, and tons more are all appearing in the first season of this absurd series that mixes celebrity interviews and comedy sketches. I’ve seen the first two episodes, and the Comedy Bang! Bang! show has something in store for comedy fans of all shapes and sizes.
Bunk – IFC - debuts Fri., June 8th at 10:30pm
Following Comedy Bang! Bang! Friday nights, IFC will be airing a new comedic game show from standup Kurt Braunohler. Bunk will feature all sorts of beloved comedians like Kumail Nanjiani, Tom Lennon, Bobby Moynihan, and Eugene Mirman competing against each other in absurd challenges. Kurt Braunohler’s the perfect choice as host, holding this circus of a game show together, as his comic sensibilities jive nicely with the craziness of the proceedings. Bunk’s a nice change of pace from traditional game shows, as Braunohler awards points randomly and all of the challenges are meaningless.
Standup in Stilettos – TVGuide – debuts Sat., June 16th at 10pm
The Office’s Kate Flannery (she plays Meredith) hosts this new standup show, with each episode featuring performances by three female comedians “whose acts feature material for, by and about women.” Comedy fans of every gender should be interested in Standup in Stilettos, though, because some amazing comics are set to appear on the show, including Maria Bamford, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Retta, and Arden Myrin. I’m 90% sure a stiletto is a type of shoe and not a type of dessert, and I’ll be able to confirm my suspicions when the show starts up this June.
Anger Management – FX – debuts Thurs., June 28th at 9 and 9:30pm
The American public demanded his return, and now he’s back! Charlie Sheen returns to the three-camera sitcom form that’s brought him so much success in the past with Anger Management, a new FX series loosely-based on the Jack Nicholson/Adam Sandler instant classic of the same name. FX has ordered 10 episodes, and under the odd syndication model the show has set up, the network has the option to order 90 more episodes if Anger Management proves successful. So, if you’re feeling nostalgic for that terrible era in American history when irritating relatives, co-workers, and Facebook acquaintances across America delighted themselves by repeating Charlie Sheen catchphrases like “winning” and “tiger blood” ad nauseum, we should be in for a nice little reprieve when the tertiary figures in your life catch wind of Sheen’s new show next month.
Brand X with Russell Brand – FX – debuts Thurs., June 28th at 11pm
FX is venturing into the late night game with Brand X, a new talk show from high-energy English comedian Russell Brand. Brand X will be closing out FX’s Thursday night comedy block, and the network has ordered six half-hour installments of the show. The show will be shot in front of alive audience and will feature a lot of Russell Brand interacting with said audience. So, if it’s your dream to interact with Russell Brand, you should try and get yourself to one of those tapings.
Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell – FX – debuts Thurs., August 9th at 11pm
Following Brand X’s six-week run, FX will be trying out another late night series, Totally Biased, for a six-week run of its own. Produced by Chris Rock and hosted by stand-up W. Kamau Bell, the new show will see Bell dissecting current events in politics and pop culture each week, with appearances from other comedians and the occasional comedy sketch. Six weeks isn’t a lot of time for Totally Biased to find its footing, but if the show takes off, it could see FX being its home for a long time to come.
PREMIERE DATES FOR OTHER COMEDIES:
May 29 – Tosh.0 (Season 4.5) – Comedy Central
June 1 – Last 2 episodes of Best Friends Forever - NBC
June 24 – Aqua Something You Know Whatever (formerly Aqua Teen Hunger Force) (Season 9) – Adult Swim
June 28 – Awkward. (Season 2) – MTV
July 1 – Weeds (Season 8) and Episodes (Season 2) - Showtime
July 2 – Web Therapy (Season 2) – Showtime
July 10 – Trust Us With Your Life, hosted by Fred Willard (Season 1) - ABC
TBA – Squidbillies (Season 7) – Adult Swim
May 13 – Tracy Morgan: Black and Blue – Comedy Central
May 20 – Hannibal Buress: Animal Furnace – Comedy Central
Aziz Ansari: Dangerously Delicious – Comedy Central (TV premiere)
June 23 – Comedy Central Live at Bonnaroo
Juune 30 – Jim Norton: Please Be Offended – Epix
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.