Stories of road travel in the United States have taken uncountably many forms, from John Steinbeck's "Travels With Charley" and Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" to "Little Miss Sunshine." But few of those journeys are quite like the one portrayed in "The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show," a new series that premieres tonight at 10:30 on Comedy Central.
For one thing, the Naked Trucker of the title is indeed unadorned, except for sneakers, socks, and a carefully positioned guitar. He's a mellow beatnik-hippie dude who doesn't quite believe in duds. And he is the sane one. His traveling companion T-Bones is a crazed half-witted boozer with a deep disrespect for the law. He's a loose cannon with a very bad comb-over. On the surface, T-Bones resembles a redneck comedy type who slings beers and beer jokes, but dig deeper and there's a hint of Monty Python-esque insanity and illogic afoot. All his stupidity is deliberately obscure; you have to think a moment to follow the point.
The pair stand on a stage before a live audience, while the Naked Trucker rolls his eyes at the idiocy of T-Bones in the manner of the Smothers Brothers. As they relate their tales of the road, in which T-Bones has inevitably caused trouble for the Naked Trucker, they introduce pre-taped segments of those exploits.
Tonight, T-Bones serves as the Naked Trucker's agent to sell the trucker's songs; nuttiness ensues. We see T-Bones breaking into a wealthy promoter's home, lingering in the bathtub while the Naked Trucker waits endlessly on the front porch. Ultimately, there are police involved. In another pre-taped segment, Will Ferrell shows up as "the hitchhiker of the week." With only a bike and an abundance of rage, Ferrell wants to race the truck.
The Naked Trucker is played by Dave Allen, a comedian and writer whose most visible gig may have been on the series "Freaks and Geeks " as the hippie guidance counselor. And T-Bones is David Koechner, who has been on "The Office," "Still Standing," and "Saturday Night Live." The series is based on their longtime stage show, so their characters fit comfortably and are clearly defined.
Ultimately, though, the show doesn't work. The humor isn't as sharp or imaginative or ironic as it needs to be, to justify all the free-floating oddness. "The Naked Trucker & T-Bones" may be smarter and more subversive than the "Blue Collar Comedy" dudes, but only very slightly. The guys move along at an antic pace, but they seem to go nowhere of consequence.