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A.V. Club: Harmontown Documents the Community Guru’s Highs and Lows

On 02, Oct 2014 | In Press & News | By SBI

Dan Harmon—creator of the NBC sitcom Community and host of the Harmontown podcast—freely admits that he’s a miserable, alcoholic asshole, but he also doesn’t protest when he’s called a genius (which he is, not infrequently). The documentary Harmontown falls over itself to balance his dark and light sides, with talking heads testifying both to his rare comedic voice and his impossible-to-deal-with irascibility. Sarah Silverman, near the top of the doc, does both in the same breath, touting how great his jokes on The Sarah Silverman Program were, then admitting that she was so scared of his explosive personality that she had to fire him. He’s a “human hand grenade with a predilection for pulling his own pin out,” says John Oliver.

In a cliché so pronounced it couldn’t work anywhere but in a documentary (and even then, it’s sometimes a stretch), it turns out that Harmon only wants to be loved. So after being fired from Community after its third season, he decides to take his warts-and-all podcast on the road in order to connect with his small but very worshipful fan base. The shows come across as shambolic but somehow magical: Harmon is joined onstage by his co-host Jeff Bryan Davis and a fantastic, plucked-from-obscurity sidekick named Spencer Crittenden, whose chief job is Dungeon Master for onstage Dungeons & Dragons games. The shows are frequently drunken revelries, with Harmon talking about whatever pops into his head, unfiltered, as well as doing some impromptu singing and crowd surfing. It feels like an inclusive celebration, with a beloved, drunken ringmaster at the center.

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