In these ever more rational, mechanized, scientific times many people feel spiritually lost and unfulfilled by the promises of postindustrial finance capital. With fear they face the burning darkness but, like true children of Aquarius, must search for metaphysical answers to nagging questions like, “Why does my soul ache when I spend more than a half-hour on Facebook?” or “Why didn’t I leave Oklahoma when I had the chance?” or, “How many cupcakes is too many?”
Google (and even Bing) doesn’t seem to have the answers, which just exacerbates technophobic frustrations. But alas, like a Jungian miracle of synchronicity (or a simple coincidence), the seeker finds a guru in a most unexpected place: at the gym, or the supermarket checkout aisle or a friend of Darlene, the receptionist at work.
Sometimes, the guru seeks you out when you weren’t even aware you were in need. Hell, you’re not even the spiritual type and probably think most of that stuff is dopey hogwash. There you are sitting at home when your mother calls and says that the son of a friend of hers just moved to your town and needs a place to stay for a couple days. Seems like a completely unreasonable request since you don’t know the guy, but you finally relent because it will please mom.
Next thing you know a shirtless guy calling himself The Shaman shows up on your lawn.
I’d bet the majority of us know someone – good friend, co-worker, arch nemesis – who is just like the Shaman. Perhaps you even are “the shaman” among your peers – though you probably wouldn’t realize that, lest your better judgment force a radical reconsideration of your life choices.
Whatever the case, like the poor Wandering Grape…er, Matt…few would welcome an intrusion of this magnitude. The Dude? Well that’s a completely different story; I could totally live with The Dude. However, the Shaman is kind of like the “bizarro” Dude and that – mixed with some Walter Sobchak scheming – may just be what writer/star Jason Nash had in mind when he developed his character for the Atom series.
Jeremy Shockey-lookalike Nash plays the Shaman and knows just how to stir confusion with the goofy pronouncements that precede his revelations. He walks within that grey zone where it becomes impossible to tell whether he’s completely oblivious or that he knows he’s full of bunk and could snap out of the persona at any minute. Whatever he’s doing works because the Wandering Grape (played by Matt Price), who seems neurotic to begin with, is only further put on edge by the Shaman’s unpredictability.
Episode two (which features a Laura Silverman cameo) contains a perfect example of this behavior.
I wouldn’t go so far to say that The Shaman is an absurdist work, but the half-baked hippie throwback-meets-low key neuroticism veers very close to that realm. The first two episodes are funny, but Nash & Co. turn it up with each subsequent episode. There is plenty of juvenile humor to be found, but it’s all done really well and because Nash seldom goes for the low-hanging comedic fruit nothing comes off as rehashed.
If you’re looking for something to stave off recurring spiritual emptiness, a few sessions with The Shaman should do the trick. Find comedic enlightenment at Atom.com.