I Think You Should Leave is hilarious, but needs to abandon gross-out humor

Courtesy of Netflix
Tim Robinson as an awkward interviewee in his series’ opening sketch.

Josiah Martin | Arts & Entertainment Editor

04/29/19

Sketch comedy is hard. Tim Robinson knows this, but has the tools to pull it off — he was a featured player and writer on Saturday Night Live. He has pulled out all the stops for I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, creating a sketch show that gets the laughs, but is often too vulgar or absurd for its own good.

The first sketch of the first episode sees Robinson — an actor whose strong suit is excruciating, calculated awkwardness — leave a job interview at a restaurant by accidentally pulling on a “push” door. His interviewer informs him of his mistake, and Robinson’s character chooses to double down to save face, painfully pulling the door past its frame and off its hinges to make his exit.

This opener captures the overarching theme of many of the show’s sketches. They are awkward situations, taken to extremes or met with severely out-of-proportion reactions. The title I Think You Should Leave encapsulates this mood. Nearly every skit features one character making such an irredeemable fool of themselves that the comedy often lies in how unaware they are of it. Somehow, it works every time.

Unfortunately, the show has one major flaw. It relies on ludicrous profanity and toilet humor as a crutch that it does not need. The show is funny, and the ideas behind its sketches are hilarious and inventive. So, when the first episode contains two separate and lengthy discussions in which “mudpie” is used as a euphemism for feces, it catches the viewer off guard and distracts from what was actually comedic about the sketch.

When a skit about a co-worker severely overreacting to a whoopee cushion prank becomes a vile monologue that I can’t reproduce in this dear Spiritan university’s student newspaper, it leaves me wishing that I could reach into the screen and cut a minute and a half off of the end of the sketch. This phenomenon repeated several times, and I had to fast-forward. Some of these sketches are funny at their core, but rely on some “funny” gross phrase and beat a long-since-deceased horse for far too long.

I Think You Should Leave is still worth watching, though. Even if the sketches can be a swing and a miss, the talent at the forefront — including Robinson and guest stars such as Cecily Strong, Steven Yeun, Will Forte and Vanessa Bayer — find the comedy in nearly every sketch, on some level. The series is guest star-packed, and by real, experienced comedy talent.

If I Think You Should Leave gets a second season, maybe it will strike a balance and be able to fully shine. All the elements are there, and maybe Robinson and company can realize that the strengths in their comedic writing are tonal and situational, and they don’t need shock value to carry 15 minutes worth of sketches. My hopes are high.

 

 

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