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Daily Show alum Jason Jones on The Detour, Japanese game shows and Iran

The actor opens up about the new season of his TBS comedy and the torture of getting a hand job while singing karaoke.

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Jason Jones stars in The Detour on TBS, one of the funniest shows on TV.

TBS

Living at a time when there are so many amazing TV shows and films available on demand means it's easy to overlook a lot of phenomenal ones. That was the case for me with The Detour on TBS, which stars Jason Jones as dad Nate Parker. Close friends told me I'd love the show, but it wasn't until it popped onto Hulu that I finally got to watch it. And I'm glad I did.

The show, created and written by Jones and his wife Samantha Bee, both alums of The Daily Show, follows the Parker family on a road trip that over three seasons has turned into a ridiculous global comic adventure with the family overcoming nearly every outrageous obstacle imaginable. In the first season, for example, the family ends up at a strip club, where Nate's daughter gets her first period.

On social media, fans embrace The Detour because it's not the typical sanitized family sitcom where every character spews one-liners and clever quips. Instead, the show puts the Parkers in increasingly compromising and embarrassing situations, like when Nate's kids walk in on a neighbor giving birth just as the baby is crowning. Luckily for the audience, it's filmed from the baby's point of view.

The Detour doesn't play comedy for shock value. Instead it comes from awkwardness -- a key component of shows like Arrested Development and The Office. But at the heart of the show are the Parkers, who feel like an actual family, flaws and all.

The fourth season of The Detour finds Nate and Robin Parker (Natalie Zea), along with their son Jared (Liam Carroll), searching for Jared's twin sister Delilah (Ashley Gerasimovich), who has run away to become a social media star.

"Our daughter left us and we're looking for her. That's all you really need to know," Jones said over the phone. "I'd say you could jump in right away with the first episode and be fine."

In our wide-ranging conversation, Jones was as funny as he is on The Detour. He talked about why caring about characters makes them funnier, his most significant Daily Show segments and the origin of his Detour character's catchphrase "get some."

Below is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.   

The Detour airs on Tuesday nights on TBS. The first episode of season 4 premiered on June 18 and is currently available to watch on the TBS website for free

Q: What's  the most ridiculous thing you've been asked to do on The Detour?
Jones: We're [The Parkers] looking for our daughter and we think she's in Japan. We go on the No. 1 Japanese game show in Tokyo, and it's a torture-for-advertiser-minutes game show. So we endure torture to be able to advertise for the whereabouts of our daughter and beg for the Japanese people's assistance. It's not so much torture physically as it is to your ego and your pride as you endure a hand job while you sing karaoke ... for points! In the middle of that I went, "Hey, I don't know if this is appropriate or funny. I don't know where we are right now, but here we are. We're doing it."

Are there crazy things you come up with that end up being too much for the show?
We had a swastika gag in season 2 that was written in the Obama administration and we thought, "This taboo. This will be funny." An accidental swastika showed up on my shirt as I was talking about how white trash the rest of the neighborhood was. But then swastikas starting popping up in real life and I went, "It's not as funny anymore." So we wound up cutting it, and it was the right thing to do.

What's one of your favorite pieces you got to do on The Daily Show?
For just cultural influence, I would say the Iranian pieces. I went to Iran during their Green Revolution. We did a series of pieces over there that led to one of the guys I spoke to being imprisoned, and he wrote a news article, and Jon Stewart wrote a movie about it. He wound up quitting The Daily Show right after and that led to John Oliver getting his show. Those pieces really put a lot of things in movement.

At the time, those pieces really changed how people thought Iranians behaved. It showed a lot of people who thought Iranians were against us that, no, they actually love and admire Americans. They may hate our administration or our warmongering, but they have nothing against American people. And they're a lot like us. They're sort of the exceptionalists in the Middle East.

Where does the catch phrase 'get some' come from?
"Get some" was never written into a script. It was an expression I kind of used when I was playing sports with my kids, like, "Come on, let's get some." It really means nothing, which I kind of liked about it. And then it was on the pilot I used it because there was a dead space where I had to run around to the back of a car and push. And I was like, "This is going to be boring if there's no dialogue and I just did it: "Come on, let's get some!" And it jkind of snowballed from there. It was an expression I would throw out any time I was about to eat shit, for lack of a better term.

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The Detour has ridiculous jokes, but there's a grounding that keeps the story moving forward.
The situations are ridiculous, but we're playing it all real like a drama. If you don't care about these characters, you're not going to laugh as hard and you're not going to cry.

How would you describe The Detour comedy-wise to someone who's never seen it?
Not a lot of people are doing balls-out comedy anymore. There's a lot of clever things on television. There's a lot of stuff that you nod along to, but there's not a lot left where you're just laughing hard, which is what we want do first and foremost -- make you forget about your shitty day and just laugh. That's not to say it's all stupid and ridiculous; there are really good points in there about family, but ultimately, we want to make you laugh.