'Naked Trucker and T-Bones' Bares Viewing
This philosophical and sartorial question is ridiculous enough to be featured on Comedy Central's latest bit of nuttiness, "The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show," premiering Wednesday, Jan. 17.
The Naked Trucker (David "Gruber" Allen, "Freaks and Geeks") wears a red trucker cap, boots and socks, and a strategically placed guitar. The thin, long-haired man wears an athletic strap, though on television, this is not apparent.
The show, quite unlike anything else on television -- other than maybe "The Simpsons" for mixing high- and low-brow humor -- revolves around these two buddies. T-Bones (Dave Koechner, "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy") sports a comb-over with mutton chops that makes one wish he were naked too, simply to divert attention from that hair-don't.
Both guys expect that given their pigmentation and vocations (unemployed for T-Bones and long hauls for Naked Trucker), they will be branded white trash. "We are all so ready to take a classist term, white trash," Koechner says. "It's more of economic elitism, racist as well, but we just accept it. What are these guys? The quickest way to help people digest it is hillbilly art house."
Koechner describes the show as "Abbott & Costello meet Martin & Lewis and the Smothers Brothers on the road with Jack Kerouac while Creedence Clearwater plays in the back seat while hay bales soaked in moonshine are on fire while Noam Chomsky discusses the entire enterprise with the undead ghost of Joseph Campbell. That gives people a nodding acquaintance of what it might be."
This explanation is accurate.
The opening credits explain that T-Bones was hitchhiking, and the Naked Trucker gave him a lift. A friendship blossomed, and as T-Bones is constantly looking for some angle to exploit, the Naked Trucker was the perfect straight man and gentleman. He just happened to be clothing-challenged.
In each of the eight episodes, they appear onstage, telling stories. While they regale the audience, the focus switches to the video detailing these silly events. In the pilot, they are supposedly in a Paramus, N.J., diner, and both are reading. Well, the Naked Trucker is trying to concentrate on "The Grapes of Wrath," and T-Bones is making his way through the menu, apparently an intellectual feat. Then again, he talks often about Noam Chomsky, the linguist.
Naked Trucker writes a song, which T-Bones is convinced is their ticket to success. Trucker is shy about his talent, and T-Bones says, "Humility is a luxury only the poor can afford."
T-Bones corrals Trucker into sitting through a pitch on a time share for swingers because the salesman, who also sells boats, supposedly knows people in the music industry. As Trucker meanders through the boat showroom, no one notices he's nude.
When T-Bones breaks into a music producer's home -- and naturally lights the candles in the bathroom and settles in for a long bubble bath because what else would a burglar do? -- the cops who respond to a neighbor's call say nothing about public indecency.
"We never mention it," Allen says. "He doesn't get in trouble. The show is based on funny stories. Where do they go? What do they do? What trouble do they get into? And, how do they get out of it? The nakedity never enters it."
Will Ferrell shows up as a hitchhiker, an embittered laid-off worker who says, "I dream of an America without machines." Naked Trucker, ever the droll logician, points out that the elbow is a simple machine, a lever.
He has no problem kicking out maniacs from his 18-wheeler, and soon Ferrell and his powder blue jogging suit are but a strange memory.
The show is undeniably strange, which is its charm. It grew out of a stand-up routine Allen was doing about nine years ago as a solo act. Koechner and then the band, which backs them on the show, later joined. Naked Trucker is a perfect foil for T-Bones' boneheadedness. He is the friend who comes for dinner, stays for a year and sees business opportunities in rabid squirrels.
Why would the erudite and laid-back Trucker put up with T-Bones?
"Once you make a friend no matter how goofy or troublesome, you can't give them up," Allen says.
T-Bones' manners do not improve. In the second episode, he zooms his video camera up a woman's skirt.
"It is horrifying," Allen says. "But I called him on it. Halfway through, you realize the naked, long-haired trucker is the moral center of the show."
"All I am trying to do is celebrate every American," Allen says. "I am trying to salute America."
Allen describes an upcoming episode in which T-Bones ascends the throne of a parade queen on a float, brandishing a bottle of cheap hooch. Trucker tells him to stop, but "stop" is not in T-Bones' lexicon.
"T-Bones is jumping on top of the throne and saying, 'I bring you a new social contract,'" Trucker says. "And I say, 'OK, T-Bones, what is going on here?' And he says, 'Trucker, I find your multiple-choice test to be culturally biased and therefore racist.' Then he chooses that he is a handsome philosopher king ascending the throne, even though he's a drunk guy with a crowbar. That's all in one 10-second clip."
This is the sort of odd show that resonates, and it's likely be a hit with folks who do not have to wake up early and dress for work.
"It's a Costco of funny," Allen says. "There is a lot of it in there. You have to walk around for a while to find what you want, but it is all there in big portions. It could be compared to the IKEA of funny. All of our skits have crazy names, and you have to assemble it yourself."