David Hasselhoff is channeling his inner Larry David.
The Knight Rider/Baywatch star has made his own demented version of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s called Hoff the Record and it premieres in America at 8 p.m. Thursday on AXS TV.
Hasselhoff stars as David Hasselhoff — or, as he tends to call himself, the Hoff. The six-episode mockumentary, which originated last summer in the U.K., is packed with self-parody and squirm-inducing laughs.
The premise: a Larry David-esque Hasselhoff’s career is in freefall. His finances are in ruin. His personal life is a mess.
As his bumbling manager puts it, “I don’t want to say that people don’t want to employ him in the States. But I’m not sure that people in the entertainment industry want to employ him in the States.”
Desperate to prove he’s not a has-been, the man once watched by millions — as Dr. Snapper Foster (on The Young & the Restless), as Michel Knight (on Knight Rider) and as Mitch Buchannon (on Baywatch) — heads to the U.K. to make a fresh start.
Alas, the Hoff’s ego takes a beating as he realizes how far he has dropped off everyone’s radar.
No topic is off limits, no punches are pulled.
“It’s like therapy doing a show like this,” Hasselhoff says. “You’re able to go in, get out all of the stuff you’ve wanted to say to everyone and do it through a comedic art form, which is wonderful.
“I was able say, ‘People have made fun of me about this. People perceive me in this light. Well, let’s have a little fun with that. Let’s take those preconceptions and play with them. Let’s take them to the next level, twist them into something completely ridiculous.’”
Sure enough, in the hilarious premiere, David’s enthusiasm for a movie about his life is dashed when he must audition to play himself. Even sadder, and funnier, the director is convinced that our hero is completely wrong for the part.
“Which is kind of what’s happening right now, in real life, with me checking my ego at the door to play a role in the Baywatch movie while someone else, Dwayne Johnson, is playing me,” Hasselhoff says. “It’s funny that such a different type of guy is playing my character.
I think it was Marlon Brando who said it’s how well you ride the downs in your career that shows what you’re made of.
“But that’s Hollywood. It’s a roller coaster of ups and downs. I think it was Marlon Brando who said it’s how well you ride the downs in your career that shows what you’re made of.
“In that regard, I think I’ve done OK.”
Perhaps Hasselhoff’s most therapeutic, and triumphant, moment in the show comes when he addresses and even embraces one of the great embarrassments of his life.
Remember the Internet video that went viral in 2007? The Hoff was in a Las Vegas hotel room, drunk, shirtless, lying on the floor and trying to eat a hamburger. It was a low moment.
In the series premiere, he discovers that they’re re-creating that scene in the movie about him.
His steamed response: “I had a bad night, right? I had a hamburger and I had a bunch of beers. And you know what? Tonight, I’m going to have beers and burgers, I’m going to take off my shirt and I’m going to have a lie-down. And guess what. You can’t film it! Because it’s a private moment!”
Hasselhoff says that scene was unscripted. “I said, ‘Let me just come in and improvise how I really feel. Just turn the camera on.’ And I came in and I let the other guy have it. I just went off. That is all in there in one take. It was basically what I’ve felt for years about that night.”
Hoff the Record is unlikely to be the next big ratings-buster hit for Hasselhoff. It certainly won’t match the worldwide popularity of Baywatch, which at its peak was watched by nearly 1 billion viewers across 140 countries. After all, how many potential viewers even know where to tune in to AXS TV?
But Hoff the Record is certainly some of the best work he has ever done.
The Hoff is a character, not the real me. I hope people here can make that distinction
“Everybody who’s seen it seems to really love it,” Hasselhoff says. “Everybody seems to think it’s really funny.”
Perhaps the greatest compliment of all is that many viewers in the U.K. didn’t realize it was a farce and that the leading man was in on the joke.
“A lot of people thought it was a reality show,” he says. “I think the promotion for it over there was a little bit wrong, because it’s not a reality show. It’s a Curb Your Enthusiasm-style comedy. The Hoff is a character, not the real me. I hope people here can make that distinction.
“But mostly, no matter what people think of me, I hope they find the show and that they enjoy it. Because I’m really proud of it.”
Hoff the Record
- 8 p.m. Thursday
- AXS TV