Watch 13 Comedians Take “The Bob Ross Challenge” & Help Raise Money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

The late Bob Ross, the almost laugh­ably calm host of PBS’ pop­u­lar how-to series, the Joy of Paint­ing, was a boss of many things—business, brand­ing, the 16th-cen­tu­ry wet-on-wet ”Alla Pri­ma” tech­nique…

Also speed, as thir­teen New York City come­di­ans recent­ly dis­cov­ered first­hand.

Invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate in The Bob Ross Chal­lenge, a web series-cum-fundrais­er hatched by come­di­ans Mic­ah Sher­man and Mark Stet­son, they game­ly plunged ahead, regard­less of artis­tic tal­ent or famil­iar­i­ty with the mas­ter.

Some like, Julia Duffy, are sim­ply too young to have encoun­tered Ross in his pub­lic tele­vi­sion hey­day.

(For the record, all 403 episodes of Ross’ paint­ing show are now view­able online for free.)

Oth­ers, like Aparna Nancher­la, above, chanced upon reruns screened for iron­ic effect in dive bars…

Or, like Keisha Zol­lar, they’re in a roman­tic rela­tion­ship with some­one who uses The Joy of Paint­ing to com­bat insom­nia.

The major­i­ty seem to share a latch key kid’s fond­ness for the gen­tle Ross, whose show proved a chill pair­ing with after­school snacks.

“We spent about $1000 on offi­cial Bob Ross sup­plies,” She­man reports. From easel to the fan brush, every­thing was set up for the par­tic­i­pat­ing come­di­ans’ suc­cess. Like Ross, who typ­i­cal­ly shot a sea­son’s worth of episodes over a sin­gle week­end, the first sea­son’s shoot tran­spired over a few days.

The ground rules were sim­ple. Armed with an arse­nal of offi­cial­ly sanc­tioned sup­plies, each come­di­an entered a stu­dio where a Joy of Paint­ing episode was screen­ing, charged with recre­at­ing that can­vas in real time. At the end of the episode, it was “brush­es down” whether or not the can­vas bore pass­ing resem­blance to Bob’s.

“Our orig­i­nal title was Bob Ross Fails, but peo­ple were actu­al­ly suc­ceed­ing,” Sher­man con­fess­es.

That said, there’s a def­i­nite edge. The par­tic­i­pants may be trained in improv, but as per­form­ers, there’s an imper­a­tive to get over, and, as stat­ed, Ross moves fast. In the time it takes an aver­age mor­tal to apply a sky wash, he’s like­ly fan brushed in a cou­ple of hap­py lit­tle trees.

Tough nuts.

The rules of the game decree that the stop­watch abides.

As Ralf Jean-Pierre observes, it’s a race against time.

Though not every­one plays by the rules…

David Carl, above, cre­ator of Trump Lear, declares (in char­ac­ter) that he not only defeat­ed Bob Ross, but that “no one’s ever had a bet­ter tree than that” and that his clouds are “beau­ti­ful­ly tremen­dous.”

Sher­man and his co-cre­ator Mark Stet­son have con­ceived of The Bob Ross Chal­lenge as a fundrais­er for the Leukemia & Lym­phoma Soci­ety. Like Ross, Stetson’s father was pre­ma­ture­ly claimed by lym­phoma. Make a dona­tion in their hon­or here.

Watch the first sea­son of The Bob Ross Chal­lenge here.


Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Every Episode of Bob Ross’ The Joy Of Paint­ing Free Online: 403 Episodes Span­ning 31 Sea­sons

Arti­fi­cial Neur­al Net­work Reveals What It Would Look Like to Watch Bob Ross’ The Joy of Paint­ing on LSD

Chris Rock Cre­ates a List of His 13 Favorite Standup Com­e­dy Spe­cials

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. Her recent trip to Mex­i­co City is the inspi­ra­tion for her lat­est short play at The Tank in New York City on August 23, Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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