Friday , April 12 2024
Comedy Central's summer tour inside the mind of Gary Busey

I’m with Busey

The stated reason that we and comedian Adam de la Pena are spending time with actor Gary Busey is to learn “what makes a man a man.” But that’s just Adam being comically disingenuous: the real reason we’re watching Buse is to learn what a weird fucker he is.
Comedy Central’s new summer series, I’m with Busey, is the latest in the Celebrities Is The Craziest People sub-genre of reality programming. And though it’s been a point of pride with me that I’ve never watched an episode of The Osbornes (didn’t care for him as a rocker, so why should I care for him as a rockin’ family man?) and only made it through the premiere ep of Anna Nichols’ tour of the Borderline, I was ready to sample this ‘un. Like self-professed fan de la Pena, I’ve enjoyed Busey’s acting work ever since he made Buddy Holly more than a toothy guy in horn-rims. He’s performed plenty of able-bodied heavy roles over the years (e.g., the grinning albino hitman in Lethal Weapon) and can often liven up even the lamest B-movie (Predator 2, for example), so I was willing to give the show a shot.
The debut episode focused on four sequences:

Adam being shown around the actor’s home;

Adam watching Busey eat oysters while he waxes philosophically about the experience (Busey waxes philosophically about a lot of stuff in just one half hour; as Adam sardonically notes at one point, “Gary has a lot of answers to questions that nobody asks”);
Adam and Gary going to a dance club, with the latter made up in full drag to experience the essence of womanhood (“Men,” Busey tells us twice, “are failed women at birth”);
The duo fighting as a team on the paintball field (weakest of the four sequences, but I guess we had to include it to keep the adolescent males in teeveeland from a prolonged homosexual panic attack).

Through it all, Busey alternately offers insights and tells the wise-cracking de la Pena to shut up. Every once in a while, the show will break away to a shot of Adam looking into the camera to squeeze in an after-thought joke. At one point, after Busey makes a garbled reference to the “symbology of eating food,” for instance, the show cuts to the comedian who goes, “Let me get my Crazy English Dictionary” for translation.
Is it all a put-on or is it the actual Busey? Is it real or is it scripted? Hard to say. It’s clear the actor – still piercing-eyed and intense after all these tears – gets a kick of keeping us and the soft-bodied comedian off-balance. First thing he does, he tells our guide early on, with guys he works with is give ’em “a lovingly sensual French kiss.” Yikes! we think for a moment. Is he gonna do it? He doesn’t, but that doesn’t negate the possibility that we won’t get an LSF goodbye kiss when the series ends.
As a nil-weight summer series, I’m with Busey has its moments, but I can’t see it holding up through August. Its biggest joke is based on balancing condescension and fear – more enjoyable than the pity and disgust we feel watching a former Guess Jeans girl stumble about in spike heels, but still fairly limiting. But if being on this series gives Gary Busey a chance to parlay better movie roles, I guess it’s not an entirely bad thing.
Do I plan on watching any more eps? Naw. But I am considering renting Silver Bullet for the weekend. If I can find a copy. . .

About Bill Sherman

Bill Sherman is a Books editor for Blogcritics. With his lovely wife Rebecca Fox, he has co-authored a light-hearted fat acceptance romance entitled Measure By Measure.

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