Too Many Cooks video: your life with extra cheese:...
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Nov 11, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Too Many Cooks video: your life with extra cheese: Mallick

Twelve-minute viral comedy video Too Many Cooks flashes our entire cultural life before our eyes

OurWindsor.Ca

The Too Many Cooks comedy video is a surreal work of art, homage to lunacy, blast from the past, chiselling reminder of human stupidity blah blah blah. I will now wait for you to Google “too many cooks” and watch the 12-minute video (you can pause at four minutes or eight or watch the whole thing) and return to this column. Tick tock.

Good, you’re back.

Adult Swim, a tiny weird U.S. cable network, ran this beautiful thing at 4 a.m. last Thursday, I think, and a couple of insomniacs alerted the world. As I write this, I haven’t seen any print commentary on it, which is why print is dying, but I have a bigger problem: Too Many Cooks flashed my entire cultural life before my eyes. I was raised on American cheese family TV and so were you. It takes a lot to make a stew, a pinch of salt and laughter too! How true that is!!!

On its surface — and feel free to float there — Too Many Cooks, with its earworm theme song, is a parody of earnest American family-friendly sitcoms from Punky Brewster to Modern Family. There’s the bumbling dad, mock-frowning mom, smart kid, stupid kid, doofus uncle, chirpy grandma and then a serial killer pops up. It mocks cop dramas, sci-fi, evening soaps, animated kids action shows and teen slasher movies, doing an even better job than great British TV satire of cops (Fat Sweaty Coppers) or marriage (Human Remains). It even has a plot.

A tribute to verbal exclamation marks, it satirizes glee, smirks, exaggerated shrugs, rueful eyes, the turn-and-grin and the slurpy sentimental “awww.” The ‘80s fonts and backdrop of tired sofas and kitchen clutter (crockpots, fridge magnets, paper towel dispensers and potholders) recalls everyone’s parents. I once interviewed a collection of writers from The Onion. Frighteningly clever men, they were all from small towns, all screaming to get out of that kitchen.

But Too Many Cooks is also a takedown of high culture, as if Rembrandt’s The Night Watch were a portrait of pub quiz night. Is it the “entertainment” of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest? asked @evankindley on Twitter. Impressive, Evan. But equally, is it, as I suspect, a call-out to Taylor Swift’s high-waisted pants? If I were hiring summer interns — and of course no one would ever let me near them — I would make them sit down and write a fast test essay on Too Many Cooks. “Has the Too Many Cooks murderer been inside us the whole time, filling our hearts with love? Comment.” It’s a trick question.

Truly, the American cultural code of Too Many Cooks is “you’re stupid” and of course we are. The genius of pop culture is its cluelessness, its comedy of revenge on parents, its vernacular. This is a fam-damily, I thought as I watched, it’s a fine how-de-do.

The video was created, written and directed by Chris “Casper” Kelly, creator of Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, who planned it for 18 months as he did his regular TV job, and shot it in two days on a minimal budget and a cast of extras. It was about “hell-like banality and degrading repetition,” as Vice put it, or “time-dilation,” as Kelly told Vulture. “My boss gives me a lot of rope,” Kelly said. When he sent it in, not sure if it was any good, “he emailed me and said, ‘This is f---ing great.’ And I printed that out and framed it because he does not email me very often.”

I had a strange feeling of isolation on Tuesday repeatedly watching Too Many Cooks interspersed with Remembrance Day ceremonies, and it’s the same sensation that eventually hits everyone who works/lives online. We are alone. We will die. Eventually.

Remembrance Day is covered heavily because it is a public, scheduled, stationary event that is easy for editors to assign, reporters to describe and photographers to render. It’s as slow and formal as a Peter Mansbridge interview. Questions unroll. Years pass. Comes an answer.

Too Many Cooks is a wild manic pot that boiled in one guy’s head and appeared at a time when fortunate good people rest. I am struggling to describe it without any visual help. I give up. “It takes a lot to make a stew/A pinch of salt and laughter too!/A scoop of kids to add the spice, a dash of love to make it nice/And you’ve got ... too many cooks!”

Toronto Star

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