Jon Benjamin has stolen the hearts of many a person, he’s a major favorite. When his Comedy Central show was announced, the comedy scene was more than interested. Benjamin has done tons of voiceover work over the years from Dr. Katz, Home Movies, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force to current raves in the FX and FOX hits Archer and Bob’s Burgers. But this would be his first real foray into live action comedy that’s all his (he was a regular on Important Things with Demetri Martin amongst others).
The show itself, Jon Benjamin Has a Van pits Benjamin hosting a show that travels wherever it needs to to get the story to you, the viewer. The format is part Onion News Network part Borat. I suppose the official term would be “mockumentary” but you get it with me just saying Borat, right? Jon hosts various gigs all involving interviewing or talking to people in not too normal circumstances. Like, talking to those who are going to the bathroom and actively trying to participate in Cash Stall. Normal.
The show’s opening segment is of the very first ever documented person with pre-traumatic stress disorder. Jon interviews a man (Delocated’s Jon Glaser) who is terribly frightened by just the thought of war so much, that he loses his voice. He was in training to go, but never actually went. After the interview, there’s a commercial of American heroes of war who have lost their arms and leg, then the bravest of them all, the man who lost his voice. Would you be proud to be an American after seeing that commercial?
Another segment is about Jon pushing his producer, Rob (Matt Walsh), across the Mexican border…as a prank of course. They were only there to work on an assignment, but why not have some fun? Jon refuses to give back Rob’s passport, leaving him there to fend for himself. Standard procedure is then to stay there for a year, like Rob has done. When Jon visits him again, Rob is happy, peaceful, and living in a house with his wife and baby. Jon has an assignment and wants to see if Rob could help with the language barrier – since Rob speaks fluent Spanish equipped with a Spanish accent. They reach their destination and Jon quickly pushes Rob across the Guatemalan border, as a prank… again. See you in a year Rob!
The last segment, Jon is on a dangerous assignment and meeting with El Monte Blanca, a Guatemalan drug lord and—unbeknownst to him—aka Rob. Their peaceful meeting—which included Rob shooting his father in the head for wearing a wire and snitching—is interrupted with men holding guns bursting through the doors. A car chase ensues, ending with Rob begging Jon to do the joke and push him across the El Salvador border to escape. He happily obliges and Rob is yet again in another country, this time on his terms. Just when you think everyone’s happy, Rob reveals he has Jon’s passport and won’t give it back. Sound familiar? Rob screams loudly and into the sky, “Borderrrrrrr!” also the name of the episode.
This show has had a lot of good talks around it. Clearly for good reason. It is great and funny. The humor is snarky in a good way and leaves you wanting more. I’ll be sad when it’s over tomorrow. Boo hoo. But, I know I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Cash Stall.
Jon Benjamin has a van airs on Wednesdays at 10:30pm on Comedy Central.