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"It's not 'Sopranos,' but I did my best."

Man at bar: Excuse me, you have a TV show? What's it like?
Joe Pera: You know how most television shows feel like they were made by an energy drink? Well my show feels like it was made by apple cider.
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Joe Pera Talks With You is a series airing on [adult swim]. It stars soft-spoken comedian Joe Pera, who previously appeared on the network with his specials Joe Pera Talks You to Sleep and Joe Pera Helps You Find the Perfect Christmas Tree, set in the same universe. Joe is best described as a man in his thirties with the demeanor and behavior of someone much older. He's very quiet, humble, polite and gentle, and loves living in his small town of Marquette, Michigan, where he works as a middle school choir teacher. Each episode covers a different subject of interest to Joe, such as breakfast, iron, grocery shopping or lighthouses. the first season of nine episodes began on May 20, 2018, and the second season began December 6, 2019. a third special entitled Relaxing Old Footage with Joe Pera was released May 20, 2020, and third and final season began on November 7, 2021, before the series was officially canceled on July 7th, 2022.

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Joe Pera Talks With You contains examples of:

  • Absurd Phobia:
    • Joe is apparently afraid of jack-o-lanterns. Gene theorizes it's because whenever you carve a jack-o-lantern, you give it 1/16th of your soul. Joe takes a drive every year on the Saturday following Halloween to reflect on why they unnerve him and to "grow his soul back".
    • He mentions in "Joe Pera Discusses School Appropriate Entertainment With You" that near the top of his list of fears is getting bitten on the nose by a snake and dying with a swollen honker in a British hospital, but the perfectly rational fear of losing his job is scarier.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • When Gene's friend Timrick, described as a Joe Pesci type ball-buster, asks Joe what it was like growing up in an Amish community, Joe laughs and says he actually likes that one.
    • When Lulu calls Joe "Bald Spot Dennis the Menace," he responds by calling it a good roast.
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  • Apologizes a Lot: Joe does this whenever he says or does something that he thinks might make you feel uncomfortable, or if he swears (which is extremely rare).
  • Audience Participation: Since the show has No Fourth Wall and Joe can talk directly to you, he will occasionally ask you a question, such as whether he'll get perch or whitefish at the fish fry.
  • Babysitting Episode: "Joe Pera Lights Up the Night With You" has Joe babysitting the Melsky family's youngest daughter, Kelsey.
  • Big Eater: Joe gets very excited about food in multiple episodes, especially breakfast, whether it's at a diner or his Nan's egg bake.
  • Birthday Episode: Joe reveals at the very end of "Joe Pera Takes You to the Grocery Store" that it's his birthday, but didn't want to make a big deal out of it.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Joe has very poor eyesight, but spends the majority of "Joe Pera Answers Your Questions About Cold Weather Sports" without his glasses in order to train his eyes not to need them. It doesn't work.
  • The Bore: How most people view Joe. He is a soft-spoken guy who is interested in odd subjects like Michigan's history as America's iron mine. Because of this, he seems to get along best with older people.
  • Brick Joke: In the finale of Season 1, Joe is shown at the grocery store with a cart full of cans of tomato sauce. Later on, in the Season 2 episode "Joe Pera Shows You How to Pack a Lunch," Joe ends up bathing in the tomato sauce after getting sprayed by a skunk.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: As awkward as he can be, Joe is shown to be a skilled choir teacher. He writes an entire musical by himself and is seen conducting the children and teaching piano successfully. Outside of work, he clearly has an impressive knowledge of various subjects, even if it does come off as random.
  • Burial at Sea: Joe says he wants to be sent down a waterfall when he dies (at age 85, probably from a poison kiss). Since he believes his jack-o-lantern has part of his soul in it, he decides to do the same for it.
  • Call-Back:
    • In "Joe Pera Lights Up the Night with You," Joe presents his theory on why people don't cheer after every firework. This is one of the mildly interesting subjects he mentions in his original special, Joe Pera Talks You to Sleep.
    • In the same episode, right before talking about this, he repeats, "Nice." after every firework, the same thing he does while in the batting cages in Joe Pera Talks You to Sleep.
  • Canine Companion: Joe's basset hound, Gus, which is the 32nd most popular dog name.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Joe has an undeniably unique way of looking at the world: he sees the grocery store as a "theater experience" and would have loved to have been a ratcatcher in Canada during the 1950s.
  • Comical Overreacting: In "Joe Pera Discusses School Appropriate Entertainment with You," when the movie he's showing to his students features swearing in the opening line of dialogue, he proceeds to knock the entire TV off the cart in order to stop it.
  • Comically Small Bribe: In "Joe Pera Has a Surprise for You," Joe gathers his friends to reenact the movie Rat Race. Joe hands them all envelopes that contain the location and key to a safe where he hid $115. None but two of them participate, since the location of the safe is three hours away.
  • Cool Car: Joe feels this way about his 2001 Buick Park Avenue, but everyone else seems to make fun of his car.
  • Cool Old Guy: Gene is definitely this to Joe, though more of just a regular old guy to others. Gene's "artsy-fartsy" twin brother Glass, on the other hand, absolutely qualifies.
    Glass: Electric to meet you, Joe.
  • Crazy Survivalist: Sarah is revealed to be one. She also thought Joe was one, after she misinterpreted some of the weird things he's done as being survival training.
  • Cringe Comedy: Joe's socially awkward nature can lead to this.
  • Deconstruction: Sarah's entire "The Reason You Suck" Speech in "Joe Pera Talks to You About the Rat Wars of Alberta, Canada, 1950 - Present Day" originates from Joe Pera wanting to do a 15-minute long speech (about the length of an 11-minute TV episode, with commercials) that starts the same way the episode did. She assumes, that with the calm and long and useless topics that Joe talks about, he won't be ready for any real dangers.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • "Joe Pera Gives You Piano Lessons" focuses on Lulu and centers around her anniversary with Gene.
    • "Joe Pera Shows You How to Do Good Fashion" is largely about Gene patching up his relationship with his sons.
  • Disco Dan: Joe, despite being a music teacher, doesn't seem to know much about current music.
    • When he hears "Baba O'Riley" for the first time, he asks if anybody's heard of The Who, calls it a new song and doesn't seem to realize that he can easily search for the song on Youtube, rather he calls every radio station and ask them to play the song. He also has a collection of sheet music from the early 20th century.
    • In "Joe Pera Helps You Find the Perfect Christmas Tree," he dresses up as John Denver for his class, assuming they would know who that is.
    • In "Joe Pera Lights Up the Night with You," he has an Imagine Spot of Sarah out partying where he assumes everyone is "doing a cool new dance move," which to Joe is apparently raising the roof.
  • Downer Ending: "Joe Pera Has a Surprise for You" starts with Joe organizing a "rat race" for his friends, but nearly all of them drop out. Just as he's starting to cheer up, Nana Pera dies, and the two friends who actually took part in the race come home to find Joe and Sarah devastated by the news. The episode ends with Joe sadly putting away the chairs he'd set out for everyone earlier.
  • Everybody Knew Already: In "Joe Pera Takes You for a Hike," Joe and Sarah are trying to keep their relationship a secret from the other school staff. At the end, he admits to Principal Neiman that he and Sarah have been dating for four months, who says that everybody already knew, and that she thinks they're great together.
  • Five-Man Band: Gene's breakfast crew, the Over-Easys. Gene makes it a point that each member of a breakfast crew needs to bring something unique to the table. Jack knows politics, Jeff knows sports, Timrick is the ball-buster, Alan is The Everyman, and Gene has the sex appeal. Their wives also have a breakfast crew called the Pink Grapefruits.
  • Formerly Fat: Joe mentions being a chubby boy in the first episode, and flashbacks to his childhood in "Joe Pera Takes You on a Fall Drive" and "Joe Pera Takes You on a Hike" show that to be the case.
  • Friend to All Children: Downplayed with Joe. His conversations with kids can be as awkward as those with adults, but he at least is shown to be an effective choir teacher, and has a good rapport with his students. He also turns out to be a pretty good babysitter for Kelsey Melsky.
  • Frivolous Lawsuit: Joe mentions off-hand in the first episode that he's being sued. He reveals at the end that he and Gene are suing each other, not for any particular reason, but to learn more about the legal system, and to see if there's any racial bias in the court.
  • Halfway Plot Switch:
    • "Joe Pera Shows You Iron" starts with Joe beginning a presentation on iron, but getting interrupted by the Melsky family, who thinks his house is for sale. The rest of the episode is about Joe contemplating whether he should sell them his house, but still manages to throw in some facts about rock formation and geology.
    • "Joe Pera Reads You the Church Announcements" starts with Joe doing the church announcements, but then he starts talking about how much he loves "Baba O'Riley" by The Who.
    • "Joe Pera Talks to You About the Rat Wars of Alberta, Canada, 1950 - Present Day" ends up being about Joe Pera's play on the topic, and Joe's now-iffy relationship with the band teacher, Sarah.
    • "Joe Pera Answers Your Questions About Cold Weather Sports" is almost entirely about Joe coming to terms with Sarah's paranoia about the future, and the two learning to like each other despite their differences.
    • "Joe Pera Has a Surprise for You" starts with Joe trying to reenact the movie Rat Race with his friends, but then Nana passes away.
  • Humble Hero: See the picture quote.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Every episode title begins with "Joe Pera" and is followed by whatever he does in the episode, like "Joe Pera Shows You Iron" or "Joe Pera Takes You to Breakfast".
  • Improperly Paranoid: "Joe Pera Talks to You About the Rat Wars of Alberta, Canada, 1950 - Present Day" reveals Sarah to be extremely paranoid about things like solar flares, drone strikes, and the electrical grid shutting down. She also has a fortified basement with a massive food supply.
  • Insomnia Episode: "Joe Pera Reads You the Church Announcements" is actually about Joe gushing to his fellow churchgoers about how he's been up for three straight days listening to "Baba O'Riley" by The Who, and drinking Starbucks coffee for the first time.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Joe generally hangs out with old people. His best friend is Gene, who is significantly older than him, and he also spends a lot of time with his Nana and her friends. Joe admits when he's talking about going to his first ever bachelor party that he was nervous because he doesn't really hang out with people his age.
  • It's a Long Story: This is Joe's justification for why he has an onion in his fruit bowl.
  • Jerkass: Joe's coworker Johnny has been questioned by the principal if he's really in the mindset to actually be a teacher. He likes to brag about his sexual encounters, throws in quips about Joe's dick size to get a rouse out of other teachers while passing it off as a joke, and just antagonizes Joe without outwardly being hostile about it.
  • Klatchian Coffee: Inverted. During school hours, Joe drinks coffee, but makes it so weak that it's translucent and mostly water, so he doesn't crash in the middle of a lesson. He describes it as being the exact opposite of espresso, and calls it "School Blend".
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Science teacher Jon practically speaks in nothing but these, much to his own amusement and everyone else's annoyance.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Season 2 begins after Joe and Sarah's Relationship Upgrade. Season 3 follows up after Nana's passing.
  • Lighter and Softer: Than pretty much all of Adult Swim's other shows, animated or live-action. There's very little profanity, sexual content, or violence (Joe even apologizes whenever he swears, and admits to avoiding violent movies), and it has an overall optimistic and relaxing feel.
  • Long List: Joe seems to like listing things. Sometimes his lists aren't very long, but they're made long just by how slowly Joe speaks.
    Joe: Pancakes. Eggs. Bacon. Melon. Muffin. Coffee. Waffles. Syrup. Sausage. Rye toast. Donut. Nanners on cereal. I could fill three programs listing stuff you could eat in the morning.
    • In "Joe Pera Takes You to the Grocery Store," Joe invites viewers to check out his grocery list online and suggest items for him to add. And yes, the link he gives is real.
  • Lost Food Grievance: "Joe Pera Takes You to Breakfast" has Mike Melsky attempting to combine every item on his breakfast place into the "Perfect Egg Bite," which consists of rye toast, butter, grape jelly, hash browns, ketchup and a sunny-side up egg. However, the yolk keeps breaking whenever he takes his first bite, ruining his meal and causing him to angrily shout and bang on the table.
  • Madness Mantra: Joe repeats the word "Snowmobiles." during the intro to "Joe Pera Answers Your Questions About Cold Weather Sports".
  • The Moving Experience: In the first episode, a for Sale sign is placed in front of Joe's house accidentally. When a family visits and wants to look inside his home, Joe feels he has to honor their request. He then starts thinking that even though he didn't put the sign there, he still needs to sell his home, and begs the family not to buy his house.
  • Never Trust a Title:
    • The episode name "Joe Pera Helps You Write," which was advertised with that title in previews and TV listings, is only part of the full title. The full title of the episode is "Joe Pera Helps You Write an Obituary."
    • "Joe Pera Shows You His Second Fridge" begins with Joe doing just that, but upon realizing that his second fridge has been ransacked by local teens, a second title card appears saying "Joe Pera Talks With You About Teenage Crime and Punishment," and the rest of the episode deals with him talking about sending Nicole Melsky to the principal's office.
  • Nice Guy: Joe might be a bore to some, but he is uncommonly pleasant. In the first episode alone, he contemplates selling his house, even though it isn't for sale, just so he doesn't have to disappoint the Melsky family, who wanted to buy it.
  • No Fourth Wall: As one might expect from the title, Joe is talking directly to you.
    • The episode "Joe Pera Helps You Write an Obituary" has Sarah also talk directly to you, as she takes over addressing the viewer and directs you outside to give the grieving Joe some space to write his Nana's obituary. She talks about what types of plants you can eat and which will kill you.
  • Noodle Incident: These are often brought up to explain why Gene's wife Lulu doesn't care for Joe, including him and Gene pretending to be French-Canadian fur trappers in the house, and him and Gene putting a bullet in the microwave.
  • Not So Above It All: Joe is usually a sensitive, polite and respectful person, which puts him in stark contrast to guys like Mike and Johnny. However, Joe shows off his mischievous side too, especially once he and Sarah start dating.
  • Official Kiss: "Joe Pera Answers Your Questions About Cold Weather Sports" ends with Sarah kissing Joe.
  • Once per Episode: Near the beginning of each episode, Joe will wave to the camera and say "Hello. My name is Joe Pera."
  • Opposites Attract: Joe is a calm, easygoing guy interested in the little things in life, and Sarah is a paranoid Conspiracy Theorist who is always worried about the collapse of civilization. This causes friction at first, but they eventually learn to see past each other's differences and become an Official Couple.
  • Place Worse Than Death: In "Joe Pera Shows You How to Do Good Fashion", a fashion blogger tells Joe that he would like it in Milwaukee if he chose to move there. It's not as glamorous as London, but it's certainly not Cleveland.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Not explicitly mentioned in the show, but Joe's actual parents are never really mentioned, and his grandparents from both sides of the family appear in flashbacks to his childhood, and adult Joe spends a lot of time with his Nana. This might explain a lot of Joe's old man mannerisms. This is further implied by Nana's obituary, which says she is survived by her grandson, with no mention of either of Joe's parents. (In an interview about the show, Pera explicitly notes that the character was raised by his grandparents.)
  • Refrain from Assuminginvoked: The DJ who Joe calls brings this up about "Baba O'Riley" in "Joe Pera Reads You the Church Announcements".
    Radio DJ: the name of the song is "Baba O'Riley," alright? It's not "Teenage Wasteland" even though they say "Teenage Wasteland" a hundred times and "Baba O'Riley" zero times. I guess if you write a song that good you can give it whatever dumbass title you want.
  • Show Within a Show: Joe lists off some of the movies available for his students to watch in "Joe Pera Discusses School Appropriate Entertainment With You," such as Freshwater Story, Julius Caesar Revealed, The Great Flying Day, Tales by Old Pheasant, The Patriot Man, or Trash Can Cats Go Romp-Pomp-Pomp. Joe's favorite, though, is The Adventures of Otto, which seems to be about a turtle in a vest who can operate a canoe and a car looking for a man who stole a library book. There's also Wish It Ain't So, a teen-drama movie one of his students brought in to show the class after receiving the most behavior points, but Joe ends up destroying the TV after the movie features swearing in the opening line of dialogue.
  • Spock Speak: Joe talks in a gentle, monotonous manner, never raising his voice, even when he's excited about something. Like breakfast.
    • He actually does raise his voice in "Joe Pera Reads You the Church Announcements," wherein he becomes extremely excited after hearing "Baba O'Riley" by The Who for the first time, also also starts drinking Starbucks coffee after staying awake for three days straight.
  • Precision F-Strike: Joe rarely swears, and when he does, he'll probably struggle to say the word and/or apologize for it, even if it's something minor like "goddamn". Usually when he does swear, he's quoting someone else.
    • He says "bullshit" a few times in "Joe Pera Shows You His Second Fridge", but clearly struggles to do so, and was quoting what Nicole Melsky said that got her in trouble at school. He says it again at the end of the episode to try and break the tension between him and Nicole and show her that outside of school, he doesn't need to discipline her.
    • When Joe shows a movie to his class in "Joe Pera Discusses School Appropriate Entertainment With You", he lets a student choose her favorite movie, Wish It Ain't So. The movie begins, and the opening line of dialogue is "Hey, you fuckin' bitches!", which immediately causes Joe to run to the TV and topple it over.
  • Take That!: The reason for Mike's horrible all-protein diet of a whole rotisserie chicken every day and nothing else is that he heard about it from Joe Rogan.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech Sarah ends up doing this in a huge Deconstruction episode of the show itself, "Joe Pera Talks to You About the Rat Wars of Alberta, Canada, 1950 - Present Day". She talks about how Joe isn't ready and able to survive in a world with so many possible paranoias that she has.
  • Tomato Skunk Stink Cure: Joe bathes in a tub of tomato sauce after getting sprayed by a skunk.
  • Weird Aside: Jack, the "political junkie" of Gene's breakfast crew, introduces himself to Joe by saying that 93% of Americans don't approve of murder.
  • Wham Episode: "Joe Pera Has a Surprise for You" and "Joe Pera Helps You Write an Obituary".
  • Wham Line
    Carol (to Joe): Honey, you need to get over to the hospital right away. It's Nana. I just called an ambulance.
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