One imagines that the first caveman who slipped his hand through the fur of a recently slaughtered animal to create something warm and cuddly with which to entertain his hirsute offspring also immediately thought of the impure possibilities of such a creation.
The overwhelmingly adorable necessarily occasions its opposite, the vilely dirty, a cathartic gag that’s lasted into Western civilization’s more recent centuries, from the cruel slapstick of Punch and Judy to Crank Yankers, and it never seems to get old: the cuter the puppet, the nastier must be its deeds.
The latest ventriloquized stuffed animal to take part in this proud tradition is Meatgrinder, a wide-mouthed, NSFW, glass-eyed, furry orange thing of indeterminate origin that looks like it was picked off the reject pile on the Muppet lot.
As voiced and given movement by Dan Mott in The Meatgrinder Show, the titular character, nicknamed Meat, comprises one half of the outcast roommate duo rounded out by Zach (Dal Wolf, also the series’ co-creator and producer), a relatively normal human being rarely seen without his trademark short-sleeve dress shirt and tie. In the tradition of The Odd Couple, Meatgrinder continually drives Zach crazy with various infractions on apartment decorum, but in the newer tradition of our post-South Park times, these rude acts are almost absurdly disgusting and raunchy.
Episode one, ‘The Pilot,‘ right off the bat has Zach finding Meat (with a different, less fitting higher voice than his grouchy, profanity-laced whine in later episodes) servicing an underage male. Episode two, appropriately titled “No. 2,” has Meat and Zach barely avoiding eviction as they vainly attempt to prevent their incontinence. Episode three, “Meatgrinder’s War on Terror,” has Meat sabotage Zach’s effort to impress office cutie Susie by inviting over Islamic fundamentalists.
And so on. None of these set-ups offer much comedic innovation, but in the spirit of the “how far can they go?” provocation humor it goes so far overboard with its offensive material – Meatgrinder’s obnoxious tirades and polymorphous perversity speak to an anarchic spirit – that it somehow manages to flirt with the absurdly funny.
“No. 2” is exemplary in this sense: Zach sits on his own feces at work to cover the evidence from Susie, gets Meat to drink a constipation substance by telling him it takes like something naughty he likes, and eventually, along with Meat wears and violently ejects a butt plug to pass apartment inspection.
The pay off arrives with Zach and Meats’ tortured expressions from bowel eruptions just before launching an explosion on their unfortunate but understanding landlord: “It’s not the first time I’ve been shit on. It’s probably not my last.” Juvenile, gross, and utterly hilarious.
The Meatgrinder Show so far ends on a two–part, Back to the Future-inspired cliffhanger involving several time traveling Meatgrinders with different voices and a predilection for enjoying their own company a bit too much.
But if series director/writer/creator Chris Erb were wise he’d look back on the short Meatgrinder PSAs and “minisodes” he’s dreamed up (including a dark Halloween tale, a perverted Yuletide moral about sitting on Santa’s lap, and especially the election day reminder, which ends with Meatgrinder flatulence and advice about – yes, once more – butt plugs) and remember to avoid complicating his premise: puppet + sick = funny.