Friday, August 11, 2023

Toast of Tinseltown, on Roku

Anyone who thinks British actors are classy hasn’t met Steven Toast yet. When you do meet him, you can’t umeet him. However, the abrasive blowhard has such a knack for bringing out the worst in people, it weirdly almost makes him sympathetic by comparison. After annoying his British colleagues during a few seasons of Toast of London, he takes a shot at Hollywood in creators Arthur Mathews & Matt Berry’s six-episode sequel series Toast of Tinseltown, which premieres today on the Roku Channel.

Toast comes to Hollywood with the delusional understanding he will co-star in the next
Star Wars film. Of course, his long-suffering agent is happy to have a break from him, referring him to her Hollywood colleague, Brooke Hooberman, who specializes in Brits. She also works out of her car, sort of like the Lincoln Lawyer, but in a way that inspires less confidence.

At first, Toast assumes he is lucky to meet Russ Nightlife on the flight from London, because the stranger offers to put Toast up in his Hollywood Hills home. Then the actor discovers his host is ragingly neurotic and deeply anti-social. On the plus side, Nightlife’s housekeeper-caretaker Billy Tarzana is quite charming. She pretends to only speak Spanish around Nightlife, but she is happy to relax and converse in English around Toast.

The first episode is basically an extension of
Toast of London, in which Toast’s agent sends him off to an anger management workshop, which seems to be suspiciously successful. “LA Story” introduces Toast to Hollywood, exaggerating its eccentricities in ways that hit somewhat more than they miss. As he acclimates to Hollywood, he thinks he has a torrid affair with a dominatrix and lands a role on cheesy medical drama. There is a weird, feverish Manson-family-influenced Western-style detour, before the series culminates by revealing the truth about Russ Nightlife.

Toast of Hollywood
is often quite funny, in a bellowing British kind of way. Co-creator Berry is spectacularly crude and rude as Toast, but somehow he holds viewers’ sympathies. Rashida Jones adds some needed charm and warmth as Tarzana. Fred Armisen finally finds a sufficiently awkward character to credibly suit his screen persona in Nightlife. Larry David’s recurring appearances as a JFK assassination conspiracy theorist also feel uncomfortably true to life.

definitely isn’t shy when it comes to foul-mouthed, in-questionable-taste humor, which is why it is funny. It is also more adventurous than the average sitcom, venturing to some odd, random places. That is the old school Hollywood spirit for you. Recommended for those who appreciate scattergun in-your-face British humor, Toast of Hollywood starts streaming today (8/11) on the Roku Channel.