The opening scenes of the new Comedy Central series “Brickleberry” is sanguine: shots of waterfalls, beautiful park vistas, a sunrise and bunnies rubbing noses.
But then you see two bears humping. Wildcats humping. Mooses humping.
Welcome to the world of Brickleberry National Park, courtesy of two Athens residents, Waco O’Guin and Roger Black. The series, obviously targeting adults, debuts tonight at 9:30 p.m. with a key executive producer attached: Daniel Tosh.
Tosh has been promoting the show on his program “Tosh.O” aggressively. And given that Tosh is the No. 1 program on Comedy Central, it virtually guarantees big audience numbers for at least the first couple of weeks of its ten-episode run.
Already, Comedy Central has committed to scripts for a second season of two.
For O’Guin, a 2000 University of Georgia graduate who has lived in Athens ever since, this is a potential breakthrough after years of struggling to gain a wider audience for his admittedly juvenile sense of humor.
He credits his grandfather for telling him dirty jokes as a child, annoying his mom. O’Guin came up with thie idea courtesy of a family member: his father in law is an actual park ranger at Yellowstone National Park. His friend Black would mock the man incessantly, calling him a “tree cop.”
O’Guin also cites Yogi Bear as a source of inspiration for “Brickleberry.” “We are totally ripping them off,” he says, “but way dirtier.”
O’Guin and Black, who plays Yucko the Clown on the Howard Stern Show, did sketch comedy at UGA and got a season on MTV2 called “Stankervision” in 2005. Though ratings were good (by MTV2 standards), advertisers ran away from its crass feel and it didn’t stick.
The pair signed a deal to work with Turner on a short-lived comedy website superdeluxe.com, where they taped 35 sketch comedy skits afterwards. That paid pretty well. Then they worked for a year on a pilot with Fox for “Brickleberry” but were rejected. Again – too dirty.
Fox picked “Allen Gregory” instead. (That didn’t last.)
Fortunately for O’Guin and Black, they shared the same agent as Tosh. Tosh saw “Brickleberry,” liked it, embraced it and with that imprimatur, the pair were in the door at Comedy Central.
The pilot features Steve, an incompetent park ranger who has a knack for killing animals and customers (without deliberately meaning to), but somehow getting away with it because his boss Woody is just as inept.
“Steve makes up for incompetence by his enthusiasm,” O’Guin says.
Woody has a pet/friend named Malloy, a baby bear who talks and helps keep him sane. He’s a bit like Stewie on “Family Guy,” but is all Tosh in attitude because he is voiced by… Tosh. “He’s not an evil genius like Stewie,” O’Guin says. “He’s just a jerk.” (Malloy gets some comeuppance for his jerkiness in the first episode in a way that would never get past the censors on Fox but cleared the looser Standards and Practices department at Comedy Central. “They didn’t say a single thing about it,” O’Guin says.)
When the film “Ted” came out over the summer, O’Guin was a little concerned people would think they were ripping of the talking bear idea. But he got over it. “People forget so quickly,” he says.
The attractive Ethel is the only decent ranger but is also “a raging alcoholic” who doesn’t always do the right thing when she’s blacked out.
Two other rangers are also briefly introduced in the first episode: Denzel, an African-American ranger who is pure dopey, and Connie, a rough-and-tumble lesbian.
O’Guin is certain the National Association of Park Rangers will have a reason to complain but he doesn’t mind. “These are dangerous places where people die all the time!” he reasons.
While O’Guin has struggled financially over the years, he has been saved by his very patient wife Jolene, who has a steady job in health care (with health insurance). He hopes this series will be validation that he can create a successful TV series. But he admits, even in his 30s, he still has a suspended state of maturity in terms of his humor.
“I’m pretty much on the level of my five year old,” he says. “We play video games together.”
10:30 p.m., Tuesday (starting Sept. 25), Comedy Central
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By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk