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The Watchman: ‘Cobra Kai’ Waxes On at YouTube, truTV’s ‘Comedy Knockout’ Packs a Punch

Cobra Kai, a series based on The Karate Kid, starts on YouTube Red May 2. The Karate Kid came out in 1984. Why is the time right to bring it back now?

“We’re such huge Karate Kid fans — we don’t care if the time is right,” creator Hayden Schlossberg said. “We just wanted to do it.”

Ralph Macchio is on board for Cobra Kai, playing a grown-up version of his Daniel LaRusso character. He faces off with Johnny Lawrence, his opponent from the original film, and a batch of teens also learn the art of karate.

The creators say a four-hour lunch with Macchio at New York’s Greenwich Hotel got him hooked. “Once we explained where our headspace was for the show, he jumped in,” creator Jon Hurwitz said. “He jumped in aggressively.”

The creators say the target audience is, of course, fans of the original film, and younger people who will connect with Cobra Kai’s teen talent. “We fell in love with The Karate Kid when we were young, and a young audience watching this will fall in love with a new group of teenagers,” Hurwitz said.

The creators said YouTube was on board from the get-go, offering a full season before the pitch was even completed. That’s how things go when you bring Ralph Macchio to your pitch meetings. “They were head over heels on this pitch right away,” creator Josh Heald said.

He noted how it can be difficult to steer a potential viewer to a new show on some distant cable channel. That’s less of a problem, he said, when it comes to Cobra Kai. “You tell people, go to YouTube and type in Cobra Kai,” he said.

Also on May 2, the third season of Comedy Knockout kicks off on truTV, which offers back-to-back episodes on premiere night. The show pits comedians against each other in a series of wacky challenges. Damien Lemon is host. “We get into our groove a little more in the third season,” promised Lemon. “Things click a little bit more.”

Those offering standout performances this season, shared Lemon, include comics Amir K, Brad Williams and husband and wife team Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher.

A particularly fun part of the show is “Claim to Shame,” which sees comedians pick which audience member committed some embarrassing act.

When he’s not hosting Comedy Knockout, Lemon enjoys watching FX’s Atlanta (“probably one of the best shows on TV,” he said), HBO hit man comedy Barry and Viceland’s Desus & Miro.

Lemon said Comedy Knockout hits its stride in the new season. “There are a lot of great moments,” he said, “a lot of great energy.”