June 21, 2024 5:08 am

Netflix's Tires Should Have Fans of Shane Gillis Rolling
Netflix's Tires Should Have Fans of Shane Gillis Rolling

Netflix’s Tires Should Have Fans of Shane Gillis Rolling

Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to Shane Gillis. In 2019, the stand-up comedian was announced as a new cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” but then podcast footage surfaced in which Gillis used ethnic slurs (he claims “in character”), and he was fired five days later. A performer who had already pushed the envelope leaned into his personality as a problem child in the subsequent years and got huge in ways that “SNL” really doesn’t have the power to do anymore. 

Five years later, Gillis was big enough to be asked back to host the show that let him go, and he’s ready to embark on his next phase of comedy dominance with a Netflix original comedy called “Tires,” which was already renewed for a second season before today’s first season premiere. Is Gillis a button-pushing troll or a genius who knows how to use the market in a way that benefits him? Is he playing a role as a loud-mouthed buffoon with problematic boundaries that mocks people like the character he plays on “Tires” or is that really him? 

I’ve watched all six episodes, and I’m not sure. Still, I do find the Gillis brand of humor an interesting one in today’s market, and I lean more to the idea that he knows exactly what he’s doing, pushing buttons comedians deemed objectionable used to do more openly in the past. Sometimes it takes someone smart to act this dumb.

Even the choice to use “Tires” as an expansion of his stand-up comedy empire feels smartly calculated. It’s not a program that really breaks the mold of what fans of Gillis will expect and will give just enough fuel to his detractors to maintain their online opposition to his fame. It’s six relatively short episodes of sitcom comedy, a program that recalls workplace laughers of the past. It has a strong “Workaholics” vibe for those who remember the Comedy Central hit with a bit of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”’s willingness to push boundaries for a punchline. 

Still, it’s not the non-stop offensiveness that some people might be expecting. Bikini car washes and jokes about sex trafficking and smelling like a certain female body part—it often feels like “Tires” has been carefully manufactured to make just enough people mad to produce online buzz through opposition without saying anything that’s all that more offensive than a morning radio talk show. Like so much of Gillis’ career, especially post-“SNL,” it walks that fine line between mocking idiocy and being just plain stupid. I wouldn’t argue strongly with anyone who finds it irredeemably dumb, but I would also be lying if I didn’t admit to laughing at the fine line that Gillis and company walk here.

Gillis plays a guy named Shane—because of course he does—who works at a mediocre auto shop that’s now being run by his meek buddy Will (Steve Gerben), the kind of aggressively milquetoast personality who is constantly being bullied by everyone around him as he tries to impress his dad into believing that he can handle the business. (He clearly can’t.) Other comic personalities from the Gillis world—also people often attached to the world of Joe Rogan and his podcast—like Andrew Schulz and Stavros Halkias guest star, but it’s Gillis and Gerben’s show as the alpha and the extremely beta of this operation. Shane may bully Will, but Gillis and his writers allow for a bit of sentimentality to seep in as these two try to do whatever it takes to basically keep each other employed.

That’s about it. “Tires” breaks no ground, but I have to admit to being somewhat refreshed by a comedy that doesn’t aspire to do much more than make people laugh. There’s nothing “meta” here and little commentary on the human condition. It’s about a bunch of idiots trying to stay employed. They say the wrong things; they do the wrong things; rinse and repeat. The writing and performances (Gerben’s timing is particularly sketchy) could definitely be sharper—I suspect the second season will be stronger as the writers hone the voice of this show and characters—but this is a quick diversion that is designed to appeal to the increasing fan base of its star. I can’t imagine they’ll be disappointed. Shane Gillis may not be for everyone, but that’s precisely the way he wants it.

Whole season screened for review. On Netflix now.

Getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to Shane Gillis. In 2019, the stand-up comedian was announced as a new cast member of “Saturday Night Live,” but then podcast footage surfaced in which Gillis used ethnic slurs (he claims “in character”), and he was fired five days later. A performer who had already pushed the envelope leaned into his personality as a problem child in the subsequent years and got huge in ways that “SNL” really doesn’t have the power to do anymore.  Five years later, Gillis was big enough to be asked back to host the show that let him go, and he’s ready to embark on his next phase of comedy dominance with a Netflix original comedy called “Tires,” which was already renewed for a second season before today’s first season premiere. Is Gillis a button-pushing troll or a genius who knows how to use the market in a way that benefits him? Is he playing a role as a loud-mouthed buffoon with problematic boundaries that mocks people like the character he plays on “Tires” or is that really him?  I’ve watched all six episodes, and I’m not sure. Still, I do find the Gillis brand of humor an interesting one in today’s market, and I lean more to the idea that he knows exactly what he’s doing, pushing buttons comedians deemed objectionable used to do more openly in the past. Sometimes it takes someone smart to act this dumb. Even the choice to use “Tires” as an expansion of his stand-up comedy empire feels smartly calculated. It’s not a program that really breaks the mold of what fans of Gillis will expect and will give just enough fuel to his detractors to maintain their online opposition to his fame. It’s six relatively short episodes of sitcom comedy, a program that recalls workplace laughers of the past. It has a strong “Workaholics” vibe for those who remember the Comedy Central hit with a bit of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”’s willingness to push boundaries for a punchline.  Still, it’s not the non-stop offensiveness that some people might be expecting. Bikini car washes and jokes about sex trafficking and smelling like a certain female body part—it often feels like “Tires” has been carefully manufactured to make just enough people mad to produce online buzz through opposition without saying anything that’s all that more offensive than a morning radio talk show. Like so much of Gillis’ career, especially post-“SNL,” it walks that fine line between mocking idiocy and being just plain stupid. I wouldn’t argue strongly with anyone who finds it irredeemably dumb, but I would also be lying if I didn’t admit to laughing at the fine line that Gillis and company walk here. Gillis plays a guy named Shane—because of course he does—who works at a mediocre auto shop that’s now being run by his meek buddy Will (Steve Gerben), the kind of aggressively milquetoast personality who is constantly being bullied by everyone around him as he tries to impress his dad into believing that he can handle the business. (He clearly can’t.) Other comic personalities from the Gillis world—also people often attached to the world of Joe Rogan and his podcast—like Andrew Schulz and Stavros Halkias guest star, but it’s Gillis and Gerben’s show as the alpha and the extremely beta of this operation. Shane may bully Will, but Gillis and his writers allow for a bit of sentimentality to seep in as these two try to do whatever it takes to basically keep each other employed. That’s about it. “Tires” breaks no ground, but I have to admit to being somewhat refreshed by a comedy that doesn’t aspire to do much more than make people laugh. There’s nothing “meta” here and little commentary on the human condition. It’s about a bunch of idiots trying to stay employed. They say the wrong things; they do the wrong things; rinse and repeat. The writing and performances (Gerben’s timing is particularly sketchy) could definitely be sharper—I suspect the second season will be stronger as the writers hone the voice of this show and characters—but this is a quick diversion that is designed to appeal to the increasing fan base of its star. I can’t imagine they’ll be disappointed. Shane Gillis may not be for everyone, but that’s precisely the way he wants it. Whole season screened for review. On Netflix now. Read More