Problematic with Moshe Kasher airs Tuesdays, 10pm on Comedy Central.
Moshe Kasher is mostly known for his stand-up comedy, and that’s how Jon Stewart started off as well. But Kasher is no Stewart. His new weekly talk show, Problematic, is about halfway through its run on Comedy Central. Each episode delves into a single theme for the entire 21 minutes. The topic is always controversial, hence the name. Unfortunately, the show can’t make room for itself in the crowded late night landscape.
Kasher opens with a quick monologue, and chats with the main guest. After a commercial break, he discusses topics like Islamophobia or the “dark web” with a panel of comedian friends. Sprinkled in are pre-recorded bits, which are always the highlight, mostly because the panel segments often fall flat.
Problematic is akin to a less intelligent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; Kasher’s jokes are funny, but no points end up being made. And if they are made, they’re hardly revelatory. The premiere added up to “Cultural appropriation is bad.” In the age of Oliver and Samantha Bee’s pointed political commentary, what can Kasher possibly add?
Only one clip has stuck with me: Hasan Minhaj speaking about what his Muslim-American family went through after 9/11. It was well done and gave me a look into his struggles.
The last couple of minutes are audience questions and comments, which is a risky move. If nothing substantive is said at the taping, it is unclear how the producers would fill the empty time. Either way, this section too has been hit or miss.
Unless Problematic improves, you’re better off tuning into the same channel just an hour later and watching the Daily Show. Trevor Noah is a fine example of someone who has taken the classic political comedy formula and done great things. Moshe Kasher still has a way to go.