Worn script wastes talents of 2 ‘Comedians’

So this is what killed vaudeville.

No doubt a reference to a deceased art form is not what FX hoped for when it ordered The Comedians(Thursday, 10 p.m. ET/PT, ** stars out of four), a backstage comedy about the creation and destruction of a new sketch show. Unfortunately, what FX got was a series that takes one good idea — pairing Billy Crystal and Josh Gad — and negates it with a show that plays like a sour, unamusing version of Showtime’s Episodes, rewritten for Laurel and Hardy.

Shot as a mockumentary — a format that needs to be rested if not retired —The Comedians casts Crystal and Gad as fictional versions of themselves, as Episodesdoes more successfully with Matt LeBlanc. Crystal has pitched a comedy/variety show in which he plays all the parts, but FX’s president (Denis O’Hare) is only willing to do the show if Crystal teams with Gad, which sends us behind the scenes as they try to launch The Billy and Josh Show.

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