OMG! Is Steve getting all Mr. Hankey with his excrement? Yes. He is. And that’s just one of many reasons why children – despite their love of Mr. Hankey – are not allowed inside the absurd, disgusting, hilariously Canadian place that is Inside Steve’s Mind.
The five-part online series is literally full of potty humour and off-color jokes about Yalies, politicians, girlfriends and Hollywood. From the opening moments of the first episode I giggled uncontrollably for nearly five minutes. Then I almost threw up.
Steve Markle, the writer and director of Steve’s Mind, is a test subject in an exploration of dreams conducted by voice overed Dr. Frank Yakasuki. Strapped to a large brain-reading contraption – the DreamExtractor2000 – Steve’s nocturnal reveries are recorded and then flushed out onto video for all to see. The disturbing results reveal a gentle yet lustful, passionate man tormented by fear of loss.
The perpetual night and fog of Steve’s subconscious immediately called to mind the atmosphere of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, another darkly irreverent show with a mock-1980s sensibility. I’d bet the British sitcom had at least a minor influence on Steve’s Mind cinematographer Jeremy MacFarlane and art director Chris MacFarlane, who perfectly execute the fuzzy, illogical banality of Steve’s dreams.
I also picked up shades of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, particularly during the second episode’s did-you-catch-what-I-just-said banter between Steve and the secretary, or the ludicrously nonsensical job interview that follows.
Scenes like that one lead me to wonder if Canada’s membership in the Commonwealth is its secret to retaining its healthy measure of dry, punishing wit.
This thoughtful humor also has the effect of raising the intellectual quotient of bits like the poop-kissing scene from episode one. The scene works because, though it’s clear that Steve wants romance, our viewer’s revulsion keeps us squirming at the thought of the inevitable action until the precise moment lips touch log. The tug between wit and slapstick retain a proper balance of comedic tension, preventing the gag from going stale.
And then, in a category all his own, there’s “Everywhere Man.”
Mr. Markle’s brain certainly has a knack for satire and parody. His dream Heaven, revealed in episode 3, resembles a government-run hospital whose receptionist is, contrary to popular belief, a flamboyantly gay man and not St. Peter (or maybe it is St. Peter!). Though I’d love to attempt a description, I won’t spoil the grand surprise that awaits, the revelation of the true image of (Steve’s) God (I think the image may just be too offensive to some parties and possibly improper to print here). However, I will go so far as to say it’s in the top five funniest things I’ve ever beheld.
The subsequent episode is not as ludicrously glee-inspiring as its predecessor, though it has its moments and does its part to offend. If a guy is gonna have a weak episode, it may as well be the fourth and it may as well be while cleverly rehashing old tropes about women.
The final episode provides a decent finale, and though it doesn’t quite match episode three for laughs, it can definitely hold its ground for sheer offensiveness.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to gauge what Steve’s dreams have been up to lately (other than maybe this music video). These episodes are now a year old and, given that the real Mr. Markle is busy with the FX series Testees (check out this interview), I doubt there will be anything new anytime soon.
Fortunately, going Inside Steve’s Mind is an entertaining tirp worth repeating. Check it out on YouTube.