Joe Pera Talks With You is one of Adult Swim’s most unique shows and comes across as their version of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
Joe Pera Talks With You feels like Adult Swim’s take on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Adult Swim’s brand of subversive, chaotic animated shows was established early on thanks to the likes of cult favorite Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They later branched out to equally insane live-action shows or “infomercials,” seen by the likes of Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell or 2014’s beloved Too Many Cooks.
The best Adult Swim shows have this subversive streak, with their most popular current series being Rick And Morty. This cynical edge has served Adult Swim well, which makes something like Joe Pera Talks With You such a pleasant surprise. The show follows the title character – a fictionalized version of comedian Joe Pera – a middle school choir teacher who talks directly to viewers about the smaller joys of life. Joe Pera’s age is 32 but his demeanor is somebody over twice that, and while it appears the show is setting him up as an awkward figure of fun, it never really goes that direction.
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Adult Swim’s Joe Pera Talks With You started life as an informational back in 2016, titled Joe Pera Talks You To Sleep. The show itself arrived in 2018 and a typical episode will see Joe take viewers through seemingly mundane tasks like going shopping or dancing, but there is such warmth and sincerity to the “character” it’s easy to get absorbed in its slower pace. While there’s definitely deadpan humor to it and Pera himself can provide some cringey laughs, it goes against the bulk of Adult Swim’s programming by being utterly sincere.
If there’s a good comparison to Joe Pera Talks With You, it might be Mister Rogers Neighborhood. This iconic kids show saw Fred Rogers play a fictional version of himself as he talks directly to the camera, with the show being praised for its earnestness and warmth. It ran from 1968 to 2001, with Rogers himself passing in 2003. His legacy feels timelier than ever, and recent years have seen the release of the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and 2019’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as Rogers.
Joe Pera Talks With You isn’t likely to reach that level of cultural status, but it’s nice to have a show that isn’t afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve and even occasionally be a little tearjerking. Joe Pera Talks With You season 2 finished airing in 2019, and a one-off special titled Relaxing Old Footage With Joe Pera followed in 2020. There’s no word on a third season at the moment, though the comedian seems open to continuing.
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