|Billy Eichner interviews Amy Poehler on Billy on the Street.|
Celebrity culture is something that many of us would probably rather not admit to following, and yet it’s both hard to avoid and increasingly something that it’s no longer shameful to confess to liking. Liz Lemon, the alter ego created by Tina Fey on her show 30 Rock, was an intelligent, successful woman and a confirmed feminist, but she also had a weakness for reality TV (a genre which the show occasionally parodied, to great comic effect). Comics such as Amy Schumer and Mindy Kaling, who have a reputation for creating smart, socially-engaged work, nevertheless present their fictionalized public selves as obsessed with pop culture and largely apathetic towards politics and high art. However, they’re also operating on the implicit assumption that we’ll get the joke, and be able to laugh at their characters’ self-absorption.
Comedian Billy Eichner takes this self-consciousness about pop culture’s paradoxically fascinating and vapid nature and turns it into the centerpiece of his bizarre, oftentimes very funny game show, Billy on the Street. Eichner’s satirizing our obsession with celebrity gossip and the ephemerality of popularity (whether that applies to movie franchises, TV shows, or individual stars), but there’s an undercurrent of sincerity, too, as when he launches into a rant defending the universally-panned Sex and the City 2 in a recent episode. It’s that tension between satire and sincerity, as well as the sheer gonzo bizarreness of the show, that I find so entertaining.