Zach Galifianakis is known for his off-beat, dark style of comedy. What makes him truly great is his ability to relate and endear himself to the audience, even when playing the most bizarre of characters. But he lets the audience only get so close. He reveals only a small sliver of what is actually behind his veneer of comedy. It is this quality that can lead people to label Galifianakis the quintessential “sad clown.” And in Zach Galifianakis’ Baskets, he makes this a reality.
Baskets is a dark comedy, centered around the life of an aspiring clown. Or, as Galifianakis’ character would tell you, he has “a passion for clowning.” Nobody in his life believes in him, though. His classical clown teacher mocks him, calling him “Bozo” and “Ronald McDonald.” His girlfriend constantly puts him down, derisively remarking, “you are not a clown.” But he refuses to give up on his dream, and eventually lands a job as a rodeo clown.
In classic Galifianakis style, he somehow makes all of this very relatable. You do not need a passion for clowning to find common ground with this show. Baskets focuses on themes like following your dreams, brushing yourself off after getting knocked down, and the perseverance it takes to reach your goals. All presented with that signature Galifianakis charm.
Galifianakis is not the only thing Baskets has going for it, either. Louis C.K. is the co-creator, writer, and executive producer. You can certainly see his fingerprints all over the show. Louie Anderson plays the role of Galifianakis’ mother. Yes, you read that right, his mother. And he is shockingly perfect in the role. Lesser known actress, Martha Kelly, plays Galifianakis’ insurance agent. The interplay between Kelly and Galifianakis is absolutely hysterical. I hope to see more of that duo as the show progresses.
If the early returns are any indication, FX has a major hit on their hands with Baskets. Zach Galifianakis and Louis C.K. have combined to form a comedy powerhouse that has just begun to tap into the potential of what this show can become.
By Michael Halpern