A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shorties Watchin' Shorties is a hilarious Comedy Central series that adds animated illustrations to the stand-up work of comedians such as Dane Cook, Bill Burr, and Greg Giraldo. As with stand-up routines in general, you should expect the unexpected in content; unless you're familiar with the material already, there's no predicting where the jokes will go or how explicit they will be. There's a fair amount of animated nudity (only genitalia are obscured), sexual play (simulated sexual movements and masturbatory indications), and violence (guns, exploding bodies, and blood). Language also is a concern, with only "s--t," "f--k," and "goddamn" edited, and the jokes often tap stereotypes and negative body features (excessive weight, especially) for laughs. This is mature comedy at its best, particularly for fans of stand-up work, but it's not appropriate for teens.
What's the story?
SHORTIES WATCHIN' SHORTIES is a compilation of animated sketches inspired by clips from stand-up comedy routines from the likes of Janeane Garofalo, Mitch Hedberg, Patton Oswalt, and Lewis Black. The cartoons play on-screen to voice-over audio from the comics' stage performances. Between the segments, two babies (voiced by Nick DiPaolo and Patrice O'Neal) crack jokes of their own about their lives and the shorts they're watching on TV.
Is it any good?
That this show is unpredictable goes without saying for anyone who's watched or listened to any amount of stand-up comedy. There's no telling what will come out of the mouths of some of these comics, and jokes that otherwise might sail over the heads of younger teens will pack more of a punch when they're accompanied by these hilarious -- and oftentimes explicit -- cartoon illustrations. And since many garner laughs from stereotypes of certain body types or personality quirks, it raises issues about tolerance.
That said, Shorties Watchin' Shorties is a must-see for mature fans of stand-up comedy, particularly if your favorite comic's work is featured in some of the sketches. The only thing funnier than watching these comedians onstage themselves is seeing how the show interprets the jokes through animation, and even material you've heard many times takes on a certain freshness with these hilarious visual references.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about explicit comedy. Teens: Were you offended by any of the material in this show? Are any topics off-limits in comedy, or is everything fair game? Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
Where does joking end and bullying begin? How might some of these jokes be interpreted differently if they weren't delivered in the context of a stage performance? Why are topics such as weight, adultery, and violence frequently revisited in comedy?
In general, do media ratings and parental controls do enough to keep kids safe from inappropriate material? To what degree is it the government's responsibility to monitor these things? Does the Internet facilitate parents' control over content like this, or does the breadth of access it offers complicate matters?
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