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Web TV Review: Star-Ving Is Vilarious!

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Full disclosure: I'm an old fart (62). I've never watched much — no, make that any — of the last two decades' gross-out comedy, not because I'm a prude, or particularly weak-stomached (the sexual stuff makes me laugh, the barfing makes me and everybody else over 25 shrug), but because I have a low cruelty threshold. Just hearing about a dog thrown out the window or "They've killed Kenny!" is enough. I'm outta here.

More full disclosure: I would never have watched or even heard of Star-Ving, the new Internet TV comedy on Sony's edgy Crackle network, starring David Faustino (Bud Bundy in Married … With Children) and Corin Nemec (formerly of Parker Lewis Can't Lose), if the director, Seinfeld veteran ("The Switch") Sam Henry Kass, weren't the son of my husband's late best friend, Peter Kass, who taught acting to Val Kilmer and many others.

That said, I couldn't stop laughing. I developed a bothersome jones for the next episode. And I came away convinced that if Laurel and Hardy had lived in the 21st century, they'd be doing exactly this.

Each episode is a gem of compressed cultural trash (like those diamonds you can get made from a loved one's ashes) five to seven minutes long, featuring drug and alcohol abuse, sex orgies, casual accidental death, and equally offhand chainsaw-massacre cover-up, and other forms of depravity. Every possible disadvantaged group is made fun of — the senile, the retarded, cancer survivors, blacks, Latinos, Jews, Nazis — and all who are able participate with enthusiastic self-mockery. There is barfing, masturbation (albeit depicted graphically from the waist up), and copro-whatever. There is cynical Hollywood sleaze and showbiz hope-and-despair springing eternal like a diseased weed on an abandoned back lot. The attitude of all concerned seems to be that a disgusting culture and species deserves disgusting treatment — and rewards it with outrageous fun.

The faux-reality show premise is that Faustino, his glory days as a child star far behind him, now can't get arrested (his ex-wife really does live with Coolio, according to Wikipedia!), and his roommate and fellow overgrown child star, Nemec, is his cheerful enabler in failure. Every episode opens with a manic, inept suicide attempt by David (which reminds me of the joke, "Wait a minute. You said you throw up every morning?" "Doesn't everybody?"), interrupted by the dawning of a great hope — the tantalizing prospect of a job, a break, a comeback. As you can imagine, it comes to no good in a variety of ways.

There are a few limits. There's no full frontal nudity, which is made up for by lots and lots of full rearal nudity (it's almost the show's trademark). The director has promised me he'll never harm an animal, even in jest. ("People, no problem.") All signs are that neither will he allow his vilest characters (producers, agents) to get their paws on a child. The show features a startlingly stellar roster of guest stars, among them Gilbert Gottfried, Ed Asner, Katey Sagal, Christina Applegate, Ed O'Neill, Seth Green, and Coolio.

If you can stomach the content, which is not easy — but probably easier the younger you are — the form is absolutely classic slapstick. Now excuse me, I need to go watch the new episode.

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