(Fox) There's a certain sleepy, sardonic voice that you've heard many times on many different shows. It's the voice of Carl on Family Guy and Yoda in the Family Guy Star Wars spoofs; it's the voice of Archer on Archer, Coach McGuirk on Home Movies, and the Master on Venture Bros. That voice belongs to H. Jon Benjamin, and you've probably never seen his face, because the shows he's best known for have mostly been animated. While he does host the live-action show Jon Benjamin Has a Van on Comedy Central, Benjamin isn't straying far from animation: he's the voice of Bob Belcher on Fox's Bob's Burgers.
Bob's Burgers was created by Loren Bouchard, who co-created Home Movies with Brendon Small – co-creator of Metalocalypse, and all-around talented guy. If you've never checked out Home Movies, please do. It's a classic of absurdist animation which captures the reckless, scatterbrained thrill of being eight years old.
Bob's Burgers has a lot in common with Home Movies. They both feature an ensemble cast of excellent voice actors, they both have a quick-cut style of rapid-fire wit, and they both rely on frequent non-sequiturs to achieve their offbeat tone. In many cases, a joke will appear out of nowhere, last for all of two seconds, and have the effect of confusing you into involuntary laughter. Example: a parrot shouts “Nerd alert!” at people in glasses. Second example: a character exclaims, “It's the documentarian who hates Dad and puts wigs on cows!” and another character asks, “Werner Herzog?”
The show revolves around the Belcher family, who run the titular burger joint situated next to The Grindecologist Coffee Shop. Again, that's The Grindecologist Coffee Shop. To be fair, the neighborhood shops seem to come and go quite frequently, and sometimes Bob's Burgers is located next to a store called Stickers for Men, or the That's Improv-able Improv Theater. If you can appreciate the subtle ridiculousness of these little touches, then you're going to love this show.
Bouchard proved with Home Movies that he has an ear for the natural flow of dialogue among a group people who spend most of their time together. He also excels at portraying the hilarious little moments of family life, as when the Belchers are arguing over a bad review from a food critic: Gene says, “Um, I'm pretty sure I was in Sausalito that day,” and Bob explodes, “I'm pretty sure you WEREN'T, GENE!” These petty squabbles never persist; rather, they get lost in the constant ruckus of a roomful of people bantering with each other, trying to make their voices heard in the clamor of daily events.
Another voice that will excite comedy nerds is that of Kristen Schaal, who plays young Louise Belcher. Schaal is famous for playing obsessive superfan Mel on Flight of the Conchords, appearing as a correspondent on The Daily Show, and appearing in one of the greatest music video ever made by humans: the New Pornographers' “Mutiny, I Promise You” (the video doubles as an episode of her web-comedy series Penelope: Princess of Pets).
Having premiered in 2011, Bob's Burgers has already been renewed for a third season, been nominated for a Teen Choice Award, and received many critical accolades. Bouchard and company are making a strong bid to join the exclusive club of successful prime-time animated comedies. Whether or not Bob's Burger scatches on with the masses, it's already cemented its place as a cult comedy sensation.
FOR FANS OF: Home Movies, Venture Bros., The Simpsons, Family Guy, Archer
WHY WE LIKE IT: dry wit, believable family dynamics, great voice acting, rapid-fire absurdist humor