Prank comedy has long been a limited but enduring television genre. (Of course “Crank Yankers” is being rebooted.) But nearly every lowbrow form, from gangster flicks to horror movies, eventually gets repackaged as prestige, and in recent years, some skilled pranksters have been making their move.
Last year, Sacha Baron Cohen used various disguises to pull off the most startling political humor of the Trump era on the Showtime series “Who Is America?”; and on Comedy Central’s “Nathan for You,” Nathan Fielder turned elaborate real-world stunts into unexpectedly emotional and intricate narratives. These artists expanded the ambition of the prank show while still clinging to its queasy-making juvenile roots. The latest sneaky star of this new wave, the comedian Jena Friedman, introduces a gonzo feminist perspective in her Adult Swim show, “Soft Focus With Jena Friedman” that doesn’t just crack jokes about misogynist violence. It offers the giddy pleasure of payback.
Last year, Friedman, in character as an unflappable news reporter, did a biting segment on campus rape in which she persuaded three college frat brothers to drag around life-size female dolls called Cannot Consent Carrie. And in a bracing episode last month she built a more elaborate mousetrap involving sexual harassment in online gaming. The bit’s conceit was, If men knew what being victims of sexual harassment and abuse felt like, would that change anything?
After inviting male gamers to take part in “a virtual reality immersive experience on what it’s like to be a woman,” she gives them VR headsets that offer a vision of a sexually aggressive man, played by a porn star she hired, approaching them, pulling his penis out and then masturbating into a plant. Meanwhile, Freidman sneaks near her subjects, whose headsets shield their vision, and sprays them with water while rubbing a hot dog on their arms. When asked afterward, Friedman denies touching them. “That’s gaslighting,” one guy protests, and, of course, that’s the point.
In the first two episodes of “Soft Focus,” which hopefully will have many more, Friedman seems to suggest that getting pranked is not that different from being a woman in a sexist culture. You are put in positions that make you feel uneasy, then isolated and embarrassed, and when you are upset, you are told to laugh it off and not be so sensitive.
Morally questionable humiliation has always been a part of the prank show, and the newer versions often make explicit a meanness that was always a part of “Candid Camera” and “Punk’d.” No one parodied this more brilliantly than Dave Chappelle when he imagined a show called “Zapped” in which, adults prank their kids by, for instance, having a doctor soberly tell them their parents are dead. Stop crying, toddlers, you’ve been zapped!
Prank comedy has been dominated by men tapping into their inner Jerky Boy, and Fielder and Cohen have been criticized for making women the butt of their jokes. Friedman not only flips this script, she also represents a departure for Adult Swim. In a 2016 investigation about gender disparity at the channel, Splitsider’s Megh Wright reported that it had never run a series solely created by a women. Responding to a thread on Reddit on the resulting controversy, Mike Lazzo, an executive at Adult Swim, wrote, “Women don’t tend to like conflict, comedy often comes from conflict, so that’s probably why we (or others) have so few female projects.”
Friedman makes a mockery of this sentiment. She has always gravitated toward conflict, whether arguing politics on Twitter or turning deadly serious subjects like Ebola and rape into stand-up fodder. Like Fielder, she maintains a flat equanimity, but also employs a slippery charm to ingratiate herself with subjects and her audience, sometimes glancing at the camera, Ferris Bueller-style, as if to say, “See what I just did?’
More than Cohen and Fielder, Friedman is upfront about the contrivances of her production. Her recent episode began with a burly man with sunglasses and a gun saying that the following content may be graphic or sexual in nature. Then the camera pans a few feet to the right where Friedman is standing and she gives the man a note for another line reading. “There’s so much joy in your voice when you say ‘sexual,’” she says, sounding disappointed. “I’d like to mute that joy and make it sound like a warning.” And then he does the line reading again.
“Soft Focus” features a talent-rich writing staff including the New York comics Jacqueline Novak and Calise Hawkins as well as Merrill Markoe, who arguably helped invent the modern camera-on-the-street comedy piece as the original head writer on “Late Night With David Letterman.” But the show is not dense with jokes, even if a few of the laughs it inspires are guttural, the sort that erupt when you can’t exactly believe or condone what you just saw.
The best example might be the interview Friedman did with the former New York police officer known as the cannibal cop. He was accused of plotting kidnappings after writing online about eating his wife, but his conviction was overturned in 2014. In an interview, he tries to pass himself off as misunderstood, just a regular guy. Friedman doesn’t argue, just responds by asking earnestly: “What advice would you give someone who was busted by their wife for plotting to eat her and her friends on a dark fetish website?”
Friedman’s comic attack can be blunt or surgical. When the former police officer says, “I would never dream of doing anything without their consent,” she takes the conversation in a different direction, assuring him: “Well you can dream it,” she says. “That’s not a crime.” This exchange ends in a dating-game-show bit in which he must choose between three real women. Then “the winner” sits down with him and he explains that he is the cannibal cop. It kills the mood.
Friedman, playing the role of a twisted game-show host, has the camera wait on this moment, stretching out the awkwardness, then adding surreal touches that will look extremely familiar to fans of Tim and Eric, who more than any other comics defined the aesthetic of Adult Swim. (They have also spoofed the prank show.)
That this winner of the horror show of a dating game doesn’t immediately walk off stage might be its dark punch line.B:
【砰】！ 【胧】【月】【美】【羽】【的】【身】【形】【犹】【如】【一】【颗】【炮】【弹】【猛】【然】【间】【砸】【在】【地】【上】，【掀】【飞】【杂】【草】，【在】【地】【面】【上】【犁】【出】【一】【道】【数】【米】【长】【的】【痕】【迹】，【砂】【砾】【飞】【扬】，【灰】【尘】【夹】【杂】【着】【乱】【草】【屑】【顷】【刻】【间】【腾】【起】。 【青】【羽】【浑】【身】【上】【下】【使】【不】【出】【丝】【毫】【力】【气】，【原】【先】【一】【直】【强】【撑】【的】【伤】【势】【在】【打】【破】【结】【界】【的】【瞬】【间】【宛】【如】【泄】【洪】【一】【般】【爆】【发】【了】【出】【来】，【伤】【口】【的】【火】【辣】【混】【合】【着】【肌】【肉】【的】【酸】【痛】【让】【他】【的】【神】【经】【都】【仿】【佛】【麻】【木】【了】，【他】【勉】【力】
【那】【人】【上】【身】【穿】【着】【一】【件】【长】【及】【大】【腿】【的】【黑】【色】【皮】【风】【衣】，【大】【大】【的】【衣】【领】【竖】【着】【为】【他】【遮】【去】【了】【夜】【晚】【的】【寒】【风】，【脚】【上】【蹬】【着】【一】【双】【前】【些】【年】【经】【常】【在】【外】【面】【看】【到】【的】【皮】【筒】【长】【靴】【子】。 【这】【衣】【服】【没】【问】【题】【看】【起】【来】【很】【正】【常】，【可】【是】【出】【现】【在】【如】【今】【就】【太】【不】【正】【常】【了】，【这】【不】【明】【摆】【着】【是】【那】【些】【人】【的】【贼】【心】【不】【死】，【还】【派】【了】【人】【潜】【到】【国】【内】【想】【要】【兴】【风】【作】【浪】。 【看】【着】【前】【面】，【郭】【剑】【锋】【拳】【头】【能】【捏】【的】【出】【水】【来】
“【我】【不】【是】【告】【诉】【你】【要】【记】【得】【吃】【药】【吗】？”【周】【依】【伸】【手】【把】【他】【的】【脸】【扶】【正】，【手】【心】【滑】【过】【那】【道】【长】【长】【的】【疤】，【眉】【心】【微】【蹙】。 【顾】【生】【在】【家】【的】【时】【候】，【一】【般】【都】【是】【不】【带】【口】【罩】【的】，【除】【非】【有】【外】【人】【在】。 【最】【开】【始】【那】【几】【天】，【他】【是】【很】【抵】【触】【周】【依】【看】【他】【的】【脸】【的】，【不】【过】【后】【来】【他】【发】【现】，【周】【依】【每】【次】【看】【他】【脸】【的】【时】【候】，【都】【带】【着】【一】【种】【悔】【意】、【愧】【疚】。 【根】【本】【没】【有】【他】【想】【象】【中】【的】【嫌】【弃】。 雷锋高手联盟高手论坛【岳】【峰】【对】【大】【庆】【上】【发】【生】【的】【事】【情】【也】【有】【些】【莫】【名】【其】【妙】，【不】【过】，【对】【于】【他】【来】【说】，【作】【为】【洛】【阳】【令】，【他】【管】【辖】【的】【工】【作】【主】【要】【是】【大】【庆】【期】【间】【洛】【阳】【的】【秩】【序】，【环】【境】【和】【警】【戒】【等】【诸】【办】【事】【务】，【至】【于】【大】【庆】【之】【上】【其】【他】【的】【事】【情】【基】【本】【和】【他】【没】【有】【什】【么】【关】【系】【呢】！ 【所】【以】【岳】【峰】【被】【武】【则】【天】【传】【召】【到】【了】【皇】【宫】【之】【中】，【他】【的】【心】【态】【相】【对】【是】【比】【较】【放】【松】【的】，【他】【只】【当】【是】【武】【则】【天】【不】【放】【心】【神】【都】【的】【防】【卫】，【习】【惯】
【陆】【宝】【随】【着】【秦】【无】【殇】【等】【人】【的】【引】【路】【踏】【入】【传】【送】【阵】。【景】【物】【刚】【一】【转】【化】，【陆】【宝】【几】【个】【立】【即】【感】【应】【了】【出】【来】。【这】【里】【是】…… 【陆】【宝】【几】【个】【还】【没】【有】【出】【传】【送】【阵】，【一】【个】【个】【都】【呆】【滞】【的】【看】【着】【眼】【前】【身】【后】【的】【景】【象】。 【神】【能】【无】【处】【不】【在】，【但】【是】【却】【不】【是】【那】【种】【虚】【浮】【的】【充】【满】【袋】【子】【的】【感】【觉】，【而】【是】【有】【序】【的】【流】【动】【着】。【各】【种】【的】【神】【能】【在】【风】【火】【水】【土】【四】【大】【大】【循】【环】【体】【系】【中】【的】【被】【有】【序】【的】【搬】【运】，【不】【断】