'Whisker Wars,' a 'docucomedy,' indeed

Whisker Warrior Jack Passion competing at the 2011 Whisker Warrior Jack Passion competing at the 2011 World Beard Championship in Norway. Photo from IFC's " Whiskers Wars". Photo Credit: Karolina Wojtasik/IFC. /

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REASON TO WATCH: Guys with 20-inch beards compete for global facial-hair honors, while confessing "I get it caught in my zipper" or recalling the occasional "tragic power drill accident."

WHEN/WHERE: Tonight at 11 on IFC

Even Thom Beers has to have fun. You know Thom. He's the guy who produced "Deadliest Catch," then "Ice Road Truckers," and now oversees some 742 other man-ality shows. No mushy rose ceremonies for this dude. He spends his time down in the mines (Spike's "Coal") or chronicling "1,000 Ways to Die" (also Spike).

But even Beers needs a laugh, and he gets it the way any reality producer worth his salt gets anything -- by judicious editing. "Whisker Wars" is his self-described "docucomedy" saga of some Americans chasing world honors in the big leagues of hirsute competition. Beers even narrates the series, in his semi-tongue-in-cheek non-announcer way, which gives it a weird Japanese "Iron Chef" vibe, like it's dubbed even though it's not.

Some of the guys he spotlights include Jack Passion, two-time global winner in the "full beard natural" category (they've got more of these than the Emmys), who is viewed by his rivals as a pompous twit, and Brooklyn's laid-back funky Myk O'Connor, who in next week's episode stages his own New York contest. Also, an aggressive team from Austin, apparently bent on reclaiming Texas' nationhood. And then there's a guy named Aarne Bielefeldt, who actually does get subtitled; "German bearding legend" Willi Chevalier, who will look to baseball fans like a Rollie Fingers overdose; and newcomers like Dayton's Mike Scanlan, who shows up at next weeks Ohio championship saying "I thought this was gonna be a freak show, but there's nobody here freakier than me."

MY SAY Well, at least you'll learn what it's like eating ribs with a beard. Call "Whisker Wars" educational. Or call it silly. Or maybe just superfluous. Many of its competitions take place in bars, which tells you plenty. It's kind of a you-had-to-be-there (with an already emptied pitcher) thrill. Why do you think this airs Friday night at 11?

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BOTTOM LINE If it wasn't a docucomedy, it would just be dull.


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