Carolla’s ‘Mr. Birchum’ gets his culture war close up

News & Politics

Adam Carolla’s timing couldn’t be better.

The comedian and podcaster broke into show business in the 1990s partly thanks to his Mr. Birchum radio character. The woodshop teacher’s old-school shtick scored with KROQ-FM listeners in Los Angeles.

‘Mr. Birchum not only checks all the boxes of the identity villains today, [he also] possesses practical skills, and that is now completely missing and really looked down upon in our culture.’

Now, Birchum’s back in time to ride the wave of anti-woke comedy. Think rebel comedians like Andrew Schulz, Tim Dillon, and Ryan Long thriving without much help from mainstream platforms. Or consider the lack of outrage following “The Roast of Tom Brady,” replete with cancel-worthy yuks.

Add “Mr. Birchum” to that movement.

The Daily Wire series revives Carolla’s creation for a new generation. Now, his cranky ways clash with kids who need YouTube videos to change a tire or fix a leaky faucet.

The animated series follows Mr. Birchum, voiced by Carolla, as he navigates high school in our woke age. His nemesis? Karponzi (Tyler Fischer), a far-left troll aghast at Mr. Birchum’s methods. The show co-stars a pair of “canceled” voices — Megyn Kelly and Roseanne Barr — alongside industry veterans like Alonzo Bodden, Jay Mohr, and Patrick Warburton.

The show’s May 8 premiere in Los Angeles brought out stars eager to explain why the show matters in 2024.

Mike August, part of Carolla’s podcast empire and an executive producer on the show, suggests the character’s sudden relevance isn’t accidental.

“Adam feels like Nostradamus a little bit … he wrote a book 15 years ago called, ‘In 50 years, We’ll All Be Chicks.’ And in 10 years, you kind of saw that happen in the culture,” August said. “He has this way of seeing things coming.”

He points to the show’s failure to launch 15 years ago at Fox, with none other than animation giant Mike Judge attached, as Exhibit A.

“It’s like this character is a product of something that hasn’t yet happened, but in Adam’s kind of mind, it was coming,” August said.

T.J. Miller, part of Carolla’s extended comedy family, sees the project as a sign that the woke’s grip on comedy is loosening.

“There is starting to be a swing back where people realize that this just was too much,” said Miller, best known for his work on “Silicon Valley” and “Deadpool.” “We used to be allowed to say whatever we want, and then they took that away from us. And so this is an example of a show that is trying to rail against that.”

Daily Wire personality Michael Knowles said the woodshop teacher is more than just a colorful character. He’s the “nemesis” for some on the ideological left.

“Mr. Birchum not only checks all the boxes of the identity villains today, a straight white man who knows that he’s a man, but there’s something even deeper,” Knowles said. “Mr. Birchum possesses practical skills, and that is now completely missing and really looked down upon in our culture.”

Daily Wire co-founder Jeremy Boreing notes the left’s near-universal control of the comedy levers may be waning.

“They gained power by mocking the status quo. And now in their ascension, they are the status quo. And we’re finally starting to avail ourselves of the very tools that help them break down the culture,” Boreing said. “Adam Carolla has been consistently doing that.”

Tyler Fischer forged his digital fame with a blistering Dr. Fauci impersonation. He also lampoons the left’s extremes on Instagram and YouTube. His Karponzi character leverages the latter to comic effect.

“I’ve been doing this kind of woke, man-bun character online for a couple of years who shames everybody for not getting the vaccine or not having enough people of color in their movie,” said Fischer, who teased his co-stars at the May 8 show premiere in L.A. for its alleged lack of diversity. “He doesn’t want anybody to have any fun. He’s there to make sure everything is equal and equitable and diverse.”

“Mr. Birchum” is a comedy, but there’s a method to the animated madness, according to Carolla.

“I’ve always been a big proponent of have the comedy have the message. And then there should be a lesson somewhere in there, and it should ring true,” Carolla said. “I always like I like a little bit of nutrition with my meal, and I didn’t want it to just be a sort of cotton candy. So I thought if there was a way to be funny and send a message, then that would be the best of both worlds.”

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