Do you ever wonder what an obese gay couple talks about just before falling asleep? Or why grown men shouldn’t sleep next to their mother? Since you probably don’t, Pillow Talks addresses that for you.
Intended as a comedic study of various dysfunctional couples’ interactions just prior to hittin’ the hay, this new web series unfortunately doesn’t quite deliver. The show is akin to that booty call you drunkenly hoped would just be better.
The premise of Pillow Talks has legs, but the writing isn’t consistently clever, rendering the episodes only occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. In nearly every installment we witness a few minutes of couples’ conversations just before they go to sleep. That includes the hefty homosexual partners, a mother and son, a just completed one night stand, and a porn star and her producer.
And while many of the actors have appeared in mainstream TV shows, commercials, and films (fans of ER and Prison Break may recognize Howie Johnson here as a neurotic gay lover in “How Fat”), the most glaring element missing is that many of the performers lack the proper comedic timing or energy to match the absurdity of the scenarios. Hailing primarily from the Chicago theater scene, they seem unskilled at delivering the grand gestures and character embellishments that comedic characters require (see Kate Henley in ‘Enlightenment‘ and Susan Adler in ‘Personals‘).
Produced by Boris Wexler, this is the first web series from his Chicago-based Escape Films. Wexler certainly could’ve done better in the casting department – seasoned sketch comedy performers would have been a more effective choice – and though most of the episodes limp to their conclusion with no memorable punchline or final revelation, Keeper and Model are the two notable exceptions. These are also the only two episodes which break from the established formula of showing long time couples in all their neurotic glory.
Keeper begins at the post coital moment as an American woman attempts emotional intimacy with her foreign born one-night-stand. Their status as strangers greatly heightens the level of awkwardness, and in turn, the comedy. Usman Ally is particularly adept in his portrayal of the self-absorbed Suneil, an amateur film maker. His lover’s repeated attempts to learn more about him and to cuddle are rejected, as he is wholly disinterested in her, and brutally honest in his dismissal.
Ally returns in Model as a possible terrorist and part-time catalog model, again succeeding in his energetic and creepy portrayal of a socially awkward man.
Though this series doesn’t leave me wanting more, the two standout sketches deserve a viewing, and serious sketch comedy fans will be left wondering what UCB performers could have produced with similar set-ups.