"Adam Ruins Everything" may be the title of truTV's new comedy/informational show, premiering Tuesday night at 10, but, as in the relics of ancient Rome, ruins can be a good thing. They remind us of what endures, prompting us to learn from history.
And in the case of Wading River native Adam Conover, his show's ruination of cherished myths and "common knowledge" reminds us that we're often idiots -- which prompts us to want to slap him silly. But he's smart enough to know that, so even as he's exposing the scam behind the "tradition" of diamond engagement rings, even as he's deflating our assumptions about the efficacy of canned-food drives and of giving blood in the wake of disasters -- he pretty much slaps himself silly for us.
That means a witty, very meta TV series in which Conover can barge into a proposal and inform the young man he and his fiancee are just characters on a TV show, and they in turn let him know he's an annoying know-it-all.
"It's actually self-defensive," explains the not-at-all-smarmy Conover, 32, a writer for CollegeHumor.com since 2012, who developed the series from his hit online video "Why Engagement Rings Are a Scam." At the CollegeHumor office, "The other writers used to make fun of me for talking on and on. They actually made a blog called Opinionated Adam," where they recorded him and posted out-of-context bon mots online.
"I got it," says Conover, a Shoreham-Wading River High School alumnus. "I rubbed people the wrong way." To prevent this from happening in his new show's writers' room, "I just wrote that reaction [by characters] into the script, so that [the other writers] couldn't complain about me being too didactic." To his surprise, "It ended up being the comedy engine of the whole series."
He first popped open that engine's hood at Bard College, where -- when he wasn't getting his bachelor's degree in philosophy -- he was in the sketch-comedy group Olde English with Raphael Bob-Waksberg, future creator of the Netflix animated series "BoJack Horseman." Conover's girlfriend, Lisa Hanawalt, is that show's production designer, and Conover supplies voices for child-actor Ethan of the show-within-a-show, "Horsin' Around," as well as other characters.
One might imagine there are only so many common myths to debunk. Conover, now a Los Angeles-based standup comic, disagrees. "Human capacity for not thinking about what we're doing is infinite. To me, the main process of the show is just looking more deeply into everything we take for granted. Turning over rocks and seeing what's underneath. And there's something underneath every rock."