Noam Chomsky’s Minimalist Program, published in 1995, makes a big deal about the economy of derivation and representation in linguistics, based on the idea that the structure of a phrase or sentence should be no more complex than is needed, or that grammatical structures exist for a reason. Believe it or not, this is actually quite a contentious theory within the linguistics community

Two Guys Drinking At A Bar, a web series featuring Kevin Farley (Chris’ brother) and Paul Preston, could be Chomsky’s case in point. Check out the first episode:

Created by The Phantom Editor, Mike J. Nichols, economy of representation is certainly a central tenet of the show.The first several episodes are all under two-minutes, comprised of little more than one liners, high production values, and 45+ seconds of intros and outros set to a Shane Tassart theme song, which isn’t the best content:credit ratio, which makes me think these guys spend more time marketing than they do writing their script. But those long credits have a purpose beyond listing who’s in the show.

Messages, gags, Fight Club-like editing splices, and phone numbers for fake alcohol distributors (the home offices for Milder Lite can be reached at 310-237-6453) are conspicuously and inconspicuously hidden throughout the show’s list of acknowledgments, giving the appearance that, if you scratch the simple surface of the series, you’ll be privy to some deeper meaning/entertainment. That depth could be an illusion, but you at least get the feeling that’s there more to the show than two guys boozin’.

Up to its thirteenth episode, the creators urge you to keep watching for these kinds of developments, but it’s gestures at narrative growth are really episodes that mock melodramatic TV genres and shows, like old-school-To-Be-Continued cartoons, cheesy sitcoms, Heroes and Lost.Personally, I’d be more impressed by narrative development within the original premise of two guys sitting at a bar instead of these silly gimmicks. Farley and Preston have a fun, accessible rapport that could be further explored before needing to incorporate thought-provoking, extra-comedy components.

It’s ironic that the guys discover that they can’t actually leave the bar, because the show’s attempt to do so is also a failure. But when they stick to their format, they can be really funny. The installment where they take shots at the Beatles is one of my favorites. Simple, smart humor that could stand on its own, but is accented by the elements surrounding the live-action.

For an internet short, Two Guys Drinking at a Bar has lofty ambitions that I think might be unfulfilled by a YouTube audience. Still, it’s interesting to see them try.

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