You all watch TV. You all know TV. We currently live in a time in which social media has the power to take down metaphorical giants and make content king. We also live in a period where sketch comedy is at an unseen apex and are as many different programs as there are niches being filled. And yet, Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio is unlike any other sketch show you’ve ever seen before. In fact, it’s unlike nearly any other television you’ve seen before. Period.
You know that now-classic episode of Rick and Morty where they watch interdimensional television for the entire thing and everyone lost their minds over it? Well, picture an entire series of that and you’ll maybe have a grasp on the insanity, and stream of consciousness mayhem that powers this show. Harg Nallin’ is a wrecking ball of comedy that doesn’t stop knocking down walls. Adult Swim’s underappreciated Superjail isn’t exactly the best comparison but I couldn’t help but think of the series while watching this in terms of its sprawling, unique brand of comedy. There’s an upsetting, unconventional British sketch series by the incredible Chris Morris called Jam that’s the only other series that I can think of that has a similar vibe.
If you’re not familiar with the work of Brad Neely, he’s been creating nuggets of genius for decades now across mediums like Super Deluxe and his own Creased Comics website. Before that, he was at Adult Swim where he and Daniel Weidenfeld masterminded the sublime China, Il for three seasons (a show which exists within the same universe as Harg Nallin’).
Neely’s voice is truly one of a kind, so a sketch series that allows him to approach any tangent he pleases without the anchor of a plot holds a lot of potential. Furthermore, the idea of an animated sketch show in general wields a ton of prospect and it’s surprising that it’s something that hasn’t been attempted more. Outside of Robot Chicken, really can’t think of anything else and this show goes in a completely different direction. It’s interesting to find out that Neely originally envisioned this of having more of an SNL vibe where there was an actual cast that was a part of each of these sketches. While that’s an interesting idea in and of itself, Harg Nallin’ not restricting itself to anything at all is ultimately the best approach.
This show gives micro-sketches at a surprising rate. The first two episodes both cram 18 sketches into 11 minutes. Putting aside whether this is a creative, unique approach to sketch comedy or not, it’s just straight up an efficient way to get you the most laughs possible. This show is black hole dense with laughs, and even if something doesn’t land with you, the show is already quickly spinning another plate. But what’s that? You’re missing some larger sense of story? Fuck story! This show murders story and blames it on your parents!
Length and format are really where the show excels. Some sketches here are under ten seconds long—some are even under five—with one of the longer sketches from the first episode, “Cool Girl: Geology” going on for a few minutes, but is a real gauntlet of a piece that tries its hardest to drown you in wordplay. The show really brainwashes your way of how to think of sketch comedy. A sequence here can be defined by a single joke or simply some comprehensive non sequitur.
For instance, one sketch, “Big Man at the Rim,” which pokes fun at basketball commentators and the theatrics of the sport, also inexplicably has all of the athletes mostly naked; their genitals blurred out as they leap for the net. This touch is not at all necessary for the joke being made, but it’s these mash-ups of style and humor that push Harg Nallin’ into the distinct, exaggerated world that it lives in.
Just for fun I decided to rate all 36 sketches from the first two episodes out of five—a practice that’s not always conducive for watching sketch comedy—but in the end the overall average came out to a four. That’s how consistent this show is. There’s not a single sketch out of the litter that I flat out didn’t like, and even the few that I wasn’t crazy about still had me laughing or reacting in a positive way.
Adult Swim has also kindly uploaded an additional eight sketches online via the show’s YouTube, making there a grand total of 26 bite-sized pieces of insanity out there to give you an idea of what this show is like. And even after watching all 26 sketches, you still might not have any idea what you should next expect or what this show is all about. The episodes have titles like “For Streep” and “For Knowels” and for the life of me I couldn’t tell you why.
Two sketches in particular from the first episode, “Brother and Sister” and “Jamba Jews” just absolutely destroy me whenever I watch them, and yet they just as easily could be someone else’s least favorite sketches. That’s the beauty of this thing. Stuff sometimes just latches onto you on a whole other level, and it’s great. In spite of Harg Nallin’ strictly doing its own thing it still features components like runners and recurring sketches throughout episodes to punctuate the comedy. So much of the novelty here is the explosion of content that you’re getting, but it’s still nice to see some dots being connected and the use of repetition as a means of comedy.
Music is also an integral part of this series. It’s something that’s always been at Neely’s core and it’s never been more viscerally clear than in this show. There are apparently 75 pieces of music that Neely’s written that are spread out over the course of the ten-episode season. That’s roughly seven and a half songs per episode, and if any show is capable of crunching the math on how to do a half song, it’s this show. Two musical sketches from the premiere episode, “Bitches and Dicks” and “30 Pack in a Plastic Sack” are both legitimately catchy, entertaining songs that I wish I had full-length versions of. Arguably the worst thing about this show is that your favorite segments are over before they’re even really getting going.
Neely’s music tells infectious stories that cover anything from having God as your roommate, the powers and responsibility of a leaf blower, or getting drunk on a lazy Thursday. Or you know, something predictable like a Pre-Teen with a Predator Head. His love for meticulous musicality paired with hilarious, Dadaist visuals results in some of the most memorable, bewildering segments to come out of Adult Swim in recent memory. It’s also interesting to see that it appears that Harg Nallin’ will feature some entertaining digressions on celebrity too, whether it’s Kanye West, Taylor Swift, or Donald Trump. These bursts of pop culture and reality are a nice companion piece to all of the craziness that is born purely from his harg nallin’ mind.
To even spend too much time commenting on these sketches I feel would almost defeat the purpose of the show. These are pieces that are meant to ambush you and leave you confused or affected in some way. Knowing what’s coming isn’t going to help you appreciate this any better. Just let it take you over and trust that it’s going to be a unique experience. Undeniably this show isn’t for everyone, but it’s also a series that in its promotional materials has repeatedly stated, “This show hates you.” This isn’t a program that’s interested in pleasing the masses (I mean, did you see its title?). It just wants to party and do its own thing, and if you’re the one in the corner having the bad trip, well tough luck, bro.
Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio premieres Sunday, July 10th at 11:45pm on Adult Swim
This review is based on the first two eleven-minute episodes of Harg Nallin’ as well as additional material.