Strike a pose! Meet John Early, the new face of com­edy

Meet John Early, the anti-Lena Dun­ham whose joy­ful com­edy marks a de­par­ture from self­ab­sorbed mil­len­nial hu­mour, says Har­riet Gib­sone

The Guardian - The Guide - - Front Page -

In one of the fi­nal episodes of sub­ver­sive mur­der mys­tery se­ries Search Party, John Early’s fan­tas­ti­cally vain­glo­ri­ous char­ac­ter El­liott has an epiphany. He sits at the desk of his book pub­lisher and ad­dresses a room of staff who are im­pa­tiently wait­ing for a first draft of his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. “Here’s the truth. I don’t want to work. I don’t like work­ing. Work sucks,” he de­clares af­ter a long, med­i­ta­tive sigh. “Work­ing feels bad and I don’t ever want to work one more day in my en­tire life. Oh my God, it feels so good to say that!” Com­bined with his ridicu­lously con­trar­ian outfit – a gaudy striped smock, a cream Sher­lock cap and a pair of pat­terned swim­ming trunks – El­liott ex­udes the much-ex­am­ined “mil­len­nial malaise”. A man ex­hausted by life, by ex­pec­ta­tions. Even the prospect of a ghost­writ­ten book about his own life is a cruel dis­trac­tion from the re­lax­ation he be­lieves he is en­ti­tled to.

Early him­self is far from the in­so­lent fool he’s mas­tered so dex­ter­ously, even if the role was imag­ined by Search Party writ­ers Sarah-Vi­o­let Bliss and Charles Rogers with him specif­i­cally in mind. El­liott fol­lows a suc­ces­sion of per­versely en­ter­tain­ing per­for­mances from the standup and ac­tor: cut-throat, body-rolling, am­a­teur thes­pian Lo­gan in Wet Hot Amer­i­can Sum­mer: Ten Years Later; the emo­tion­ally fraught, con­trol-freak din­ner party host in Net­flix’s The Char­ac­ters; the string of sur­real, fame-hun­gry out­liers in his Vimeo se­ries 555; his short but scene-steal­ing ap­pear­ances in Broad City, High Main­te­nance, 30 Rock and Judd Apa­tow’s Love. At a time when so much mod­ern com­edy is over­whelmed by coy still­ness and nat­u­ral­ism (the most high-pro­file and in­flu­en­tial ex­am­ple be­ing

Girls), Early’s cameos are bursts of joy­ful, elas­tic fa­cial ex­pres­sions and elab­o­rate dance moves, an en­ergy that fol­lows in the foot­steps of Amy Poehler and Kris­ten Wiig. It is be­cause of his fresh ap­proach to hu­mour that the cult on­line comic, and now ever bur­geon­ing main­stream pres­ence, ush­ers in a new era of TV com­edy. He is a re­ac­tion against the drift­ing mood that has en­gulfed screens for the past decade, and is, as Esquire neatly put it, “com­edy’s se­cret weapon”.

“In my 20s it was the dawn of the web se­ries,” says a sub­dued Early over Skype from his apart­ment in LA. “I was watch­ing peo­ple my age make mum­blecore: gen­tle, gut­less in­die stuff with el­e­gant fram­ing and peo­ple with messy buns be­ing like: ‘Hmm, I don’t know what to do to­day. I’m just go­ing to eat a cup­cake?’ That’s still hap­pen­ing to­day and it shocks me. There’s just a real lack of emo­tion in the con­tent that

Look­ing good: Search Party; (top) John Early and Kate Ber­lant

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.