Jon Glaser has always been a magnet for the unusual. His TruTV series, Jon Glaser Loves Gear, is one of the comedian’s strangest, most unique projects to date. The series acts like an innocuous unscripted series that focuses on various gear and equipment, but each episode also heads down a bizarre tangent as Jon’s personality and obsession with gear derails the subject at hand. An episode about space gear can somehow organically turn into an installment that looks at plastic surgery and prosthetics as Jon attempts to hide his identity. It’s a stunning hybrid of styles which all amount to a comedy that’s ridiculously silly with absurd set pieces that you won’t see anywhere else on television.
Jon Glaser Loves Gear season 2, which premieres January 9th on truTV, keeps the trajectory of episodes much more of a surprise than the show’s first season. This time around, they find a creative way to undercut how the respective gear topics play out, or if topics will get replaced. Gear almost becomes secondary and a background element in some episodes, as crazy as that sounds.
Glaser explains that this deeper approach to the material had a lot to do with how he had a better understanding of what this odd show was after already doing a season of it.
“I don’t know if it felt easier this time around, but we had a whole season of experience now and had a better grasp on what the show was,” Glaser tells Den of Geek. “It didn’t make picking topics easier, but it came down to whatever just felt the funniest or the most interesting.”
Glaser admits that there was a conscious effort to not have every episode be so focused on sports and athleticism. Obviously a lot of gear exists in those areas, but Glaser wants to feature as much of a variety whenever possible.
“We always tried to branch out whenever we could last year so it’s not just all stuck in athletics,” he says. “So like an episode on road trips can touch on snowboarding gear, so it still gets to touch on athleticism, but sometimes it’s just fun to figure out what kind of gear ends up being associated with each topic. In terms of topics, we look at survival, tennis, baby gear, football, magic, snowboarding, photography, basketball, swing dancing, and sky diving—which may or may not actually happen in the episode! There’s also an episode that’s without a topic at all, which I’ll let your imagine run with.”
This season looks a lot more at Jon’s family and how his obsession with gear and his show could destroy the lasting relationships in his life. This season shows how deeply gear takes over every single aspect of Jon’s life and personality. It’s akin to a drug addiction, but infinitely sillier. On the topic of Jon’s family strife, Glaser adds, “The real family’s back, the fake family’s back, and they both intersect as well as having their own distinct storylines.” Glaser elaborates, “There’s a road trip episode for instance that features Jon’s real family. That also happens to be our first destination episode, too.”
Other characters in Jon’s orbit, such as Steve Cirbus, will get more focus in season two. Even Gear-i gets a romantic storyline and a subplot this season. He’s an actual character, not just a ridiculous gag now. And that attitude applies to most of the second season as the show evolves, expands, and refines its universe.
Jon’s family and friends are important to the show and that circle grows even larger this season, but he teases that it may come at the cost of an existing relationship.
“There are also some fun new characters that come this season, too,” he says. “There’s a struggle for Jon at the network where they want a lot more of Steve and Jon’s eager to avoid that.”
Glaser is excited to see some more tension get added to Jon and Steve’s friendship and that there will be consequences to his actions this year. “This leads to a lot of conflict between Jon and Steve this year, but it also sees another ‘spurt join the picture who’s very much the opposite of Steve.”
Glaser clarifies, “So Bowen Yang’s a fun new ‘spurt to have by Jon’s side, but it also causes to Jon to try to turn up his toughness and become the new Steve in a lot of ways.”
Perhaps the most baffling thing about Jon Glaser Loves Gear is that you’ll genuinely learn things throughout episodes. Glaser says that bowling and darts were two topics in particular that contained goldmines of gear (gearmines) that he never would have expected. “Everything can be really broken down when you look closely into it,” Glaser reveals on the topic of possible gear sources.
In spite of this, episodes are still full of such outlandish ‘brevs and terminology, as everything gets steeped through Jon’s dumb point of view. Jon was a loser and idiot in season one, but he’s even worse this year, and everyone seems to be aware of it but him. This season depicts a much more helpless, oblivious side of Jon, which makes for an interesting ingredient to the show.
The show’s second season also features some absolutely ridiculous twists and stylistic choices.
“It’s certainly fun to indulge in stuff like that,” Glaser says, “but I love to do those stranger ideas that you typically don’t see done in a show, whether it’s dubbing my voice over for the whole episode or Steve’s face being blocked out in the credits during season one. I just love that kind of stuff.”
“I’ll always remember this episode of Jon Benjamin Has A Van where the sound guy goes missing and they’re without sound for the whole thing,” says Glaser with a grin. “That’s just so funny and I love that the network let them do that. That’s the kind of stuff that I want to be doing and I just love when our stuff gets so complex that it starts to become confusing.”
This season of Jon Glaser Loves Gear certainly rises to the occasion and they actually have a rather inspired, elaborate joke that’s one of the funniest things that the show’s ever done that involves an episode where Jon’s real (and blurred) family is present for the whole thing. “Oh God, it’s so dumb, but it’s funny,” laughs Glaser.
Some of the more extreme examples of this include an episode that riffs on The Shining and The Omen and the show isn’t afraid to go for bigger concepts like that this year. There’s a punchline in this episode that’s so outrageous, but also exactly the kind of thing that you’ll only find in this show. At the same time, the series will throws lots of genuine gear facts and knowledge at the audience and then deviate on something supremely ridiculous, like the idea of the “Anti-Gear”—a “gear devil.”
Glaser is incredibly proud of the season that they’ve put together, but he speaks particular high praise over the grandiose scale of their season finale. “The finale this year is definitely very big,” Glaser admits. “It’s specifically about doing something very spectacular more than it’s about any particular gear crisis.” Glaser is careful to not give too much away about the specifics of the installment, but adds, “It’s more about Jon’s concern on whether he can do this big thing and what he’s capable of, which felt like a good way to bring the year to a close.”
Out of all of the craziness that comes out of Jon Glaser Loves Gear’s second season, Glaser singles out a particular stunt that he still can’t quite believe: “There’s this one bit where I’m at a skatepark in this big La-Z Boy chair and basically just treating this huge recliner like you would a skateboard. It’s pretty ridiculous.”
He’s also somewhat proud of the fact that season one’s “Fry Caramba” pretty much came together through actual events. “That was basically from a real moment,” says Glaser. “I went through that exact situation, complete with telling the guy, ‘I know that fries are tough.’” He’s hopeful that more art can imitate life in that matter during the show’s future.
Between interview questions, Glaser just gushes about some electric, pulse-heated socks that he’s wearing that have made some of the outdoor filming a breeze. He goes on about the different settings and variables for the socks and this real version of Jon Glaser is indistinguishable from his fictionalized counterpart in Jon Glaser Loves Gear. It’s obvious that Jon Glaser deeply does love gear and that’s why such a silly, absurd show with a fool at its center can still work so well.
The second season of Jon Glaser Loves Gear premieres January 9th at 10:30 p.m. on truTV
Daniel Kurland is a published writer, comedian, and critic whose work can be read on Den of Geek, Vulture, Bloody Disgusting, and ScreenRant. Daniel knows that the owls are not what they seem, that Psycho II is better than the original, and he’s always game to discuss Space Dandy. His perma-neurotic thought process can be followed at @DanielKurlansky.