One of the joys of long-haul flights these days is the voluminous amounts of entertainment options onboard to help you dull the mind through the hours in the air. My recent honeymoon to the Americas afforded me the opportunity to reacquaint myself with what it means to while away 14+ hours in the air. It also introduced me to the gut-laughter inducing antics of Hank Azaria as down on his luck baseball commentator Jim Brockmire.
Azaria, who many readers would know as the former Mr Helen Hunt or more memorably as the voice of gruff bartender Moe and Chief Wiggum among others on The Simpsons, steps out in front of the camera in Brockmire. Unsurprisingly though, even in live-action mode, it’s his golden tonsils that brings his character to life.
In interviews, the 54-year-old has explained the genesis of Brockmire was in a lifelong curiosity about the day-to-day lives of smooth-voiced baseball commentators. On The Ringer MLB Show in 2017, he detailed the thoughts that flashed through his head after listening to baseball broadcasts as a child growing up in New York. “Did these guys always sound like this? Do they sound like this at home? Do they sound like this in emotional situations, in intimate situations? Then that idea sort of stuck in my head.”
As he brought his own baseball announcer voice to life on The Simpsons from time to time, the idea continued to bounce around in his head until the eureka moment. “What if a guy like this had a meltdown on the air, and said really inappropriate things? But continued delivering it real smooth and with the count rights afterwards,” Azaria told The Ringer. With that, he went to work. Undeterred by the initial movie plans falling through, the concept was restructured for television with the first series released in 2017.
Despite its one-joke premise, the final product is anything but the tired old parody it could have been in the hands of less imaginative creators and scriptwriters. While it is every bit the politically incorrect, foul-mouthed, dirty joke filled program you’d imagine, it has a more meat on its bones than this would suggest. While Brockmire is laugh out loud funny throughout, as those who shared the same flight as this writer would be able to attest, its greatest strength is its ability to create empathy for a collection of incredibly flawed characters.
Not content to rely only on A-Grade gross-out jokes, clever wordplay and reference to pop-culture and sports figures, Brockmire builds a three-dimensional tale around its main character that the viewer buys into. While they do take every opportunity to milk the ‘Brockmire says outrageous things in different situations’, it takes special care to ensure that he is fleshed out in such a way that the audience is invested in him and in the characters that surround him. He is flawed and fallen but you can’t help but be won over by his earnestness and dedication in rediscovering his lost glories.
All this and the half-hour long episode running time makes it an incredibly binge-able program. While it is a small field at present, it also makes for one of the best sports-based comedies on television at the minute. Apart from the pains in my stomach, caused by the laugh-out-loud nature of the show, I don’t have a bad word to say about it. If you like gross-out jokes, foul language, and sport, Brockmire is definitely the kind of show you should check out.