[WARNING – This Con Man Review Contains SPOILERS!]
Desperate to break free of the doldrums of science-fiction, actor Wray Nearly (Alan Tudyk) has done the unthinkable. Fresh off a brief descent into the realm of commercial acting. Wray has hired his convention manager, Bobbie (Mindy Sterling), as his full-time agent and negotiator for a role on the hot upcoming drama Doctor Cop Lawyer.
Miraculously, Bobbie came through and secured Wray an audition for the role of Doctor Officer Blade Slater Esquire…
…’s lisping, limping, squinty-eyed partner, Doctor Dick Trimmings.
Still, beggars can’t be choosers and network drama is network drama. Besides, Wray’s lucky enough to have a good friend in Jerry Lansing (Nolan North) – The Mo-Capture King – who is all too happy to turn his motion-capture acting/improv class towards helping Wray with a read-through.
Unfortunately, once Wray gets to the audition, trouble rears its ugly head, as Wray finds himself going-on right before lunch break and playing to an audience of executives that are not so much hostile as they are aggressively indifferent. Worse yet, the director – the one person with any authority who knows and likes Wray – is watching the audition remotely via live stream and the only person who is physically there that is familiar with Wray’s work is the gum-smacking fangirl reading him lines.
Can Wray somehow pull a victory out of this ala Peter Parker? Or will this be the latest in a long line of indignities and failures?
The fifth and sixth episodes of Con Man’s second season may be the strongest to date. While continuing to focus on the tribulations of the actor’s craft in favor of the more geek-friendly in-jokes that dominated the first season may seem counter-intuitive, one senses that Alan Tudyk is slowly building to something big with the overall story.
It helps that Tudyk and the other writers do a good job of making Wray’s suffering relatable to those who have never endured an audition. Most of us know how it feels to be doing your damnedest to make the best of a difficult situation only to have every little thing going against you and the writing here translates the peculiarities of acting into something more universally understood.
That sense of pathos sets Con Man apart from other comedies, which would be satisfied with cheap jokes about the oddballs in Wray’s life. Mind you, those oddballs are pretty hilarious on their own terms, particularly Nolan North (yes, the voice of Deadpool himself) as Jerry Lansing and Mindy Sterling as Bobbie. Eliza Dushku also has a fun cameo, as the casting agent streaming the audition via the phone mounted in the pocket of her blouse.
Six episodes into the second season of Con Man and we have yet to see a single Con? It doesn’t matter. Con Man continues to be a delightful farce, whether it’s poking fun at the convention circuit, the problems with being a typecast character actor or the sheer lunacy of its core cast.