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New series review: Halfway Home (Comedy Central)

Kenny Carlyle is the hands-on headmaster in Halfway Home.

Premiering: Wednesday (March 14) at 9:30 p.m. central (10:30 eastern) on Comedy Central
Starring: Kevin Ruf, Jordan Black, Regan Burns, Octavia Spencer, Oscar Nunez, Jessica Makinson
Produced by: Damon Jones, Oscar Nunez, Kevin Ruf, Jay Martel

Stark raving funny in the Reno 911! mode, Comedy Central's half-improvised Halfway Home gives puerile humor another good name.

Is denizens are "semi-hardened" L.A. cons who have matriculated from the clink to Crenshaw House. It's a residential rehab facility run clunkily by mustachioed Kenny Carlisle (Kevin Ruf) with help from snitch Alan Shepard (Regan Burns). Premiering Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. central after a new South Park, it's a good bet to join Comedy Central's growing list of go-to series. Which means that the show's five messed-up inmates won't be getting out any time soon.

The opening episode begins with a 3:23 a.m. roust after Shepard smells pot in the air. He's otherwise a fire fetishist who regularly clashes with flamer/male prostitute Eulogio Pla (Oscar Nunez from The Office). The show's other three denizens, who also have issues with Alan, are volatile Serenity Johnson (Octavia Spencer), trash-talking Sebastian "Sea Bass" Yates (Jordan Black) and the relatively sedate Carly Barzak (Jessica Makinson).

Thanks to Alan, everyone's required to take a drug test. Eulogio delights in showing cup-holder Alan his pierced pride and joy. "My urine is not so much a stream as a mist," he says.

Alan eventually catches Kenny with the pipe, but he says it's medicinal for his irritable bowel syndrome. And so it goes.

Two subsequent episodes are built around erectile dysfunction and Kenny's off-limits, air-conditioned room, which the cons all covet during a heat wave. These premises aren't earth-shattering, but the cast goes to town with both the lines they're given and the ones they make up on the fly. Black and Burns are especially strong both together and on their own.

Episode 2 includes a cameo by Saturday Night Live charter player Garrett Morris. He drops in as a mailman who gifts Sea Bass with a porno mag while at the same time raising doubts about his ability to rise to the occasion. This half-hour also finds Carly attempting to set a pogo stick jumping endurance record, with Serenity as her coach.

The humor is mostly rawer than a vegan diet. But the cast of Halfway Home definitely knows how to work it.

Grade: A-minus