Daily Wire’s Mr. Birchum series has its moments, but ultimately falls short.

If you’ve been reading this site for the past couple of years, you’ll already know that I’m a fan of Adam Carolla. As far as political commentators go, I’ve always found the Aceman’s takes on issues to be more grounded and reasonable than most, even when I don’t necessarily agree with those takes. Carolla has a no-nonsense approach to life, and often isn’t afraid to say what needs to be said even if it might offend someone. While he tends to lean to the right on a lot of issues, he doesn’t usually lean so far right that he can’t admit when the left is right about something.

Some of you might remember Adam Carolla’s appearances on KROQ, Howard Stern, and Crank Yankers as the character Mr. Birchum, an angry older man who complained about the current generation. Mr. Birchum’s background changed from time to time, sometimes he was a Vietnam veteran, other times he was a gym or woodshop teacher (with Carolla drawing from his many years of experience as a construction worker). But usually Mr. Birchum was depicted as an angry psychotic Vietnam vet with a penchant for woodworking.

A while back while doing a Reddit Revue, I came across ads for a new animated sitcom from Adam Carolla, called Mr. Birchum. Being a fan of the Aceman, I felt almost obligated to check it out. A whole series based around the Dick Birchum character could be funny if done right, especially in a day and age where everyone is offended by everything. Birchum reacting to things like pronouns and social media had the potential to be comedic gold.

Unfortunately, Mr. Birchum just wasn’t that funny.

The series revolves around the titular character Dick Birchum (Adam Carolla), a high school woodshop teacher who often finds himself at odds with current social standards.

Sitcoms centered around generational culture clash are overdone, but can still be funny if they’re done right. King of the Hill and Last Man Standing are great examples of this. Generational culture clash works well in these shows because at the end of the day we see that Hank Hill and Mike Baxter aren’t always wrong in their seemingly outdated way of thinking, but they aren’t always right either. You can’t have a generational clash comedy where the older character is always right, there’s no humor in that.

Most of the episodes are Birchum pontificating about why the current generation sucks, and his point of view is always presented as being correct. The people who disagree with him, like JEDI officer Karponzi, are usually portrayed as whiney effeminate idiots. Karponzi is meant to be a parody of a social justice warrior/male feminist. And it’s funny… for about one episode.

Karponzi’s character is so ridiculous that the schtick gets old fast. I get it, he’s supposed to be a caricature of the stereotypical SJW millennial. But he’s too stereotypical, and it wears thin quickly. Karponzi is the embodiment of every single possible liberal stereotype you can think of. He’s so over-the-top that it’s just not funny. Karponzi might work better as a secondary antagonist who didn’t get so much screentime, but in a sitcom it’s very difficult to have a main character that’s an extreme caricature. It usually doesn’t work and just becomes irritating and unfunny after a few episodes. I get the points that Adam is making with the character of Karponzi, but again, you can’t have one side of a culture clash always be wrong in a comedy. Birchum is always right and manly, Karponzi is always wrong and weak. The struggle between Birchum and Karponzi honestly feels like what I’d expect if someone made a show about the Chad and Soyjak memes.

Another flaw is Birchum’s tendency to go off on tangents about things that bother him. This is a staple of Carolla’s work, and one of my favorite things about him. His seemingly off-the-cuff rants are reminiscent of the early internet rant scene that I grew up with, they’re hard-hitting, gritty, and no-holds-barred. They’re enjoyable in his writing and in his podcast because humor isn’t the primary focus of those, it’s more of an undertone that appears as-needed to enhance whatever point he’s making at the time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work on a show where comedy is meant to be the driving force. Too many times the show stops so Birchum can pontificate about some flaw in today’s society, and the rants last way longer than they should in a sitcom.

To be fair, Adam himself is more than aware of his habit of ranting a lot, his book Not Taco Bell Material even includes little annotations called “Tan-Gents” where he complains about things that are related to whatever he was talking about. He’s even mentioned that his now-ex-wife and kids would make fun of him when he does this with hand gestures and noises indicating that he’s talking too much. I personally don’t see this as a flaw, but again, I don’t think it works for an animated sitcom.

Classic animated sitcoms like The Simpsons, Family Guy, or South Park have characters go on long rants or give passionate speeches on issues. The difference is, these shows don’t do it multiple times an episode, and when they do they usually close it with a joke such as a sarcastic remark from another character or the people listening completely missing the point. The writers deliver a message without forgetting that their primary job is to make the viewer laugh. Mr. Birchum hits you with rants multiple times an episode, and there’s usually no comedic payoff to them.

The show isn’t entirely bad though. I actually enjoyed the dynamic between Birchum and his friend/fellow teacher Gage, it felt solid and often produced amusing banter that made me chuckle. Some of the one-off gags were also kind of funny, like when Birchum and Gage are at the race track betting on horses, or Birchum’s student emulating Dalton from Road House to get a date to the school dance.

Ultimately though, Mr. Birchum suffers from taking itself too seriously. Some of the jokes aren’t bad (even if they do lean mostly to the right; Ben Shapiro and Jeremy Boreing have producer credits), but most of them get overshadowed and buried by Carolla’s tangents. The humorous parts of the show are few and far between, and nowhere near enough to carry the show. Comedy just isn’t Adam Carolla’s main forte, and he needs to stick to what he does best: Calling out bullshit. 

As someone who’s been a fan of Adam Carolla since The Man Show, I give Mr. Birchum a 3/10. It’s just not that funny, it feels like forced conservative propaganda. I thought you were above partisan politics Ace, what happened man? If you’re not too familiar with Carolla’s older work and just want a show with right-leaning social commentary and humorous undertones then you might appreciate this show more than I did, but if you’re a fan of Carolla looking for a funny sitcom that’s along the same vein as King of the Hill or Last Man Standing then skip this series.

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By Angry_Jerk

The CEO/Editor-in-chief of AJnet, and the current king of internet ranting. Hailing from the fine village of Northeast Philadelphia, AJ has been creating content on the internet for over 15 years. None of it has really been funny or entertaining, but he keeps trying anyway. When he’s not creating new articles for the site, he can be found hitting the weights, watching anime, or playing retro video games.