Forget the proverbial fox in the henhouse. More fun are the hens in the Fox house.
Co-cutups Jason Feinberg and Monica Jackson of "Fox-5 News: Live in Las Vegas" are (seriously!) the best reasons to gape at local a.m. yammer-fests. While surfing channels, you just need to appreciate morning news with a Mad magazine undertow.
There must be a sign at KVVU-TV, Channel 5: "Screw Propriety, 7-9 a.m. Weekdays."
Local shows -- and even, in stretches, network flagships "Today," "Good Morning America" and "The Early Show" -- often are wrapped in a veneer of false chumminess and forced joie de vivre, their happy-and-happier patter painfully obvious as strained stabs at joviality. But Feinberg and Jackson go straight for slap-happy with riffs that can leave you giggling, groaning, smiling or praying someone dumps a truckload of decaf and the name of a competent therapist at the studio door -- but at least offer authentic exchanges rather than antiseptic pleasantries.
I'll tune in any news using Eddie Murphy's "Boogie in Your Butt" as fade-in music.
Like a puppy on a sugar rush, Feinberg is the impulsive chatterbox who often kick-starts the goofiness, as when insisting that Jackson -- who gazes at him with affectionate exasperation -- ask him on-camera what she intended strictly as off-camera prattle: Who has the bigger butt, J.Lo or Kim Kardashian? "Why do you do this to me in public?" she sighs as Feinberg finger-traces their ample assets in the air and declares Kardashian the prime rump roast.
He ad-libs mock boos over tape of Republican conventioneers doing likewise during John McCain's speech attacking Barack Obama with the disclaimer, "I was getting into it." He shows a picture of his cat at a computer, the "kitty porn" blurred out. He caps a story about a stamp-order request line rerouted to a phone-sex service with a breathy, 1-900-style voice-over. The dude's decorum filter is frequently on the fritz, refreshingly so.
Jackson toggles between eye-rolling mommy and campy cohort with robust humor. She'll occasionally jump the tracks: Witness her tantrum earlier this year, donning a tiara and suggesting R-J columnist Norm Clarke -- who accurately reported her reporting inaccuracies during the Monte Carlo hotel fire -- "bow down" to her. But even that is embarrassingly good TV, and the hint that she might spasm into some gonzo rant makes her watchable.
Her upbeat banter bouncing off Feinberg's kooky kibitzing cements their rapport. And weathercaster Ted Pretty's deadpan reactions -- his sardonic mug makes it look like he's got permanent heartburn -- cast him as George to their Gracie.
Amusing or asinine (often both), they at least appear free of fakery, and that's a feat. They favor spontaneous silliness over scripted stiffness. It's like a breakfast choice: Feel free to have oatmeal. I'll go with Count Chocula.
Contact Review-Journal reporter Steve Bornfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0256.