By early 2017, comedian Vic Berger had already made a name for himself through Super Deluxe and YouTube as one of the most effective political satirists, harsh and surreal enough for the extremely harsh and surreal Trump era. An antidote to the “orange Cheeto” and “Dorito in Chief” strain of toothless, bourgeois Trump satire, Berger stitched together Frankenstein’s monsters of media ephemera to kill his victims with their own words, using deep-fried distortion to amplify the outrageousness of the daytime talk show and CNN debate aesthetic. And apparently, amid producing decade-defining output like “Steve Harvey Doesn’t Want to Host Anything Anymore,” Berger collaborated with Tim Heidecker’s Abso Lutely Productions and Nathan for You alum Dave Paige to produce a 20-minute comedy pilot for TBS called, fittingly, “What the Hell Is Going On?? With Vic Berger.” On Thursday, three years later, he posted it to YouTube with this message:
Unfortunately, after a lengthy development process, it didn’t work out. We never got to explore the many topics that we wanted to dig into in future episodes, but, in this, we made something we’re really proud of and we’re happy to finally be able to share it with you!
The pilot is as bizarre and funny as you’d expect it to be, somehow both parodying the smarmy, overproduced qualities of a certain type of explainer video while also functioning on its own merits as a stupidly effective explainer video. Berger prefaces the episode with clips of Trump promising to revive the steel industry before meeting townies across all manner of homes and haunts in the former steel town of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where a casino notably featuring an Emeril Lagasse restaurant has opened on the old factory site. One-on-one with the locals, Berger is polite and curious, whether he’s chatting with a former steel-pourer or a ridiculous Lehigh Valley indie-music outfit, or going on a side quest to buy his dad a custom vanity license plate that says “GRRR BABY.” On another level, he illustrates how dangerous and undesirable these steel-worker jobs were. Because of course they were! If you mixed The Eric Andre Show with Adam Ruins Anything and threw in a bunch of air horn, this is what you’d get. Watch this pilot and mourn the show that never was.