Joe Pera Talks With You (Season 1) Review
by C. Palmer
***** 5 Stars
Actors: Joe Pera, Jo Firestone, Conner O’Malley
Synopsis – A middle school choir teacher walks you through his day-to-day life as an odd but lovable man with the mannerisms of a pensioner.
Gems like these are few and far between. This show was originally programmed on Adult Swim in June 2018, a network known for its potty-mouthed comedies like Robot Chicken or Rick and Morty, which is why I was surprised to see such a wholesome, heart-warming and moving comedy when I finished episode one. Currently, there are 8 episodes of 10 minutes each and a 20 minute season finale, making its bite=size style of narrative easy to make time for. Though some viewers may be put off by the short length, the stories are crafted in a way where you get a perfect dosage of warmth and humour, as well as character arcs for both Joe and Sarah over the season’s run time.
Pera’s comedy style is intriguing as it is unusual for the most part. Whilst his character would usually be the butt of the joke in other comedies, this series aligns you with him – I often found myself envying him and his love of the inconsequential over the course of the series. Both him and love interest, Sarah (played by Jo Firestone), are oddballs compared to modern society. They are similar in personality, with fantastic chemistry between the actors, but are foils for each other – Joe is obsessed with the mundane whereas Sarah has an overwhelming fear that the world is going to end. It is this conflict that drives a separation between the two in later episodes, which felt natural and unforced as it made genuine sense that their relationship could never be perfect, despite their similarities.
Each episode deals with Joe talking to you about different things (as the title suggests) and this is where I believe the true genius of the show lies. With topics such as rock collecting and breakfast selection, the writers have the tough job of keeping the audience interested. Not only do they manage this with surprising success, but also make them (or at least me) laugh about it. This show is a cathartic and therapeutic release from modern day worries such as Brexit, climate change or any personal problems you’re going through. Personally, the month of October wasn’t great for me, which might be why I hold this show in such high esteem. Joe Pera’s grandad-like persona is like a cup of tea on a cold night, putting into perspective how unimportant our day-to-day worries are in the grand scheme of things.
I could continue this analysis for pages and pages, from the beautiful shots showing the peacefulness of small-town America to the grand musical overtures that accompany a pumpkin’s burial (and I probably will in any conversation I get into over the next month), but I think this show’s genius relies on its simplicity just as Joe relies on his appreciation of the little things in life.
Joe Pera Talks With You is currently available on All4.