In Praise of ‘Let’s Be Real,’ the Unheralded Puppet Sketch Comedy Show
Last October, on the eve of the presidential election, Fox aired a special calledLet’s Be Real, featuring sketch comedy involving both humans and puppets. Robert Smigel, the veteran SNL and Conan O’Brien hand who’s perhaps best known for creating Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, is among the show’s writers and executive producers.
Let’s Be Real, based on the concept of a long-running French show called Les Guignols, was picked up for a four-episode run that ran on Fox in late April and early May.
The show, per The Wrap, had ratings that were less than stellar, and I wouldn’t be shocked if we’ve seen the last of it.
But Let’s Be Real, at its best, was downright inspired, and probably the most inventive new sketch comedy series to emerge since Netflix’s I Think You Should Leave, more than two years ago.
Sure, the show had some trouble making heads or tails of the current political moment, and its bits involving puppet versions of Donald Trump and Joe Biden tended to be its weakest. But just as the most recent season of SNL improved dramatically once the presidential election was over and Alec Baldwin and Jim Carrey’s impressions exited, Let’s Be Real did some great things outside of that realm.
For instance, there was a star-studded parody of celebrity vaccine PSAs featuring a puppet O.J. Simpson:
Then there was this truly amazing bit, featuring Jeff Garlin as the star of a King of Queens-like fat guy/hot wife sitcom, auditioning actresses to play his wife. A surprise contender? A puppet version of Viola Davis, doing a full-on August Wilson Fences monologue:
And I get the sense whoever wrote this bit must have been holding on to jokes about Ellen DeGeneres’ cruelty for years and years, until that recently became a safe thing to joke about: