‘I Think You Should Leave’ Season 2 Will Make You Cry With Laughter
The second season of Tim Robinson’s Netflix sketch-comedy series will have people talking for weeks.
It only took until the second sketch of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson’s sophomore season for me to start crying with laughter. The catalyst in question was another of creator Robinson’s absurdist fake commercials, this one a plea for the Spectrum cable company to not drop Corncob TV, home to Robinson’s reality show Coffin Flop. “They’re saying Coffin Flop’s not a show—it’s just hours and hours of footage of real people falling out of coffins at funerals,” Robinson fumes while Coffin Flop clips verify this assessment. In response to the supposed claim that he has no right to broadcast such material, he retorts in trademark screamy fashion, “I said we don’t need permissions of the family. We’re allowed to show ‘em nude because they AIN’T GOT NO SOUL!” Ending with Robinson promising, “I’ll kill you!,” it’s insanity of a most delirious, demented sort.
Fans of the Saturday Night Live vet’s sketch-comedy hit will be thrilled to hear that its return to Netflix (July 6) doesn’t fail to disappoint, in large part because it follows the template established by its maiden batch of psycho vignettes. Embarrassment born from violating a given situation’s accepted codes of conduct is I Think You Should Leave’s stock and trade, as are scenarios (ghost tours, pants-peeing mishaps) that begin with Robinson behaving inappropriately and end by spinning into unexpected and ludicrous realms. Usually setting its action in corporate offices and boardrooms, restaurants, living room parties, and performance stages—alongside a bevy of satiric TV spots and programs—the series is an assortment of scenes in which misfits flout social norms to humiliating and catastrophic ends, and at its center remains Robinson, whose bug-eyed, scrunched-face reactions and furious outbursts continue to be a source of intense humor.
Those all come to the fore in the opener of Season 2, which finds Robinson flustered by an office colleague’s announcement that lunch is being pushed back for a meeting—thus interrupting his meal of a preposterously long hot dog. Not to be deterred, his character arrives at said gathering with his arm strangely outstretched, because he now has the hot dog hidden up his sleeve. This ruse, which entails clumsily trying to sneak bites from his shirt’s cuff area, doesn’t last long, which makes his initial denial to a coworker—“I’m so tired”—all the more amusing. Never one to let a sketch simply remain on one level, however, Robinson soon steers things into chaotic territory when he starts choking on his meal, necessitating an intervention from his boss that involves pulling the hot dog from his mouth. This, in turn, causes Robinson to puke all over a backpack on the floor—and then to complain that he almost tripped over the item he’s just soiled.
Crafted by the same team that spearheaded its first go-round—co-creator Zach Kanin and directors Alice Mathias and Akiva Schaffer—I Think You Should Leave once again leaps between diverse sketches with no apparent rhyme or reason, and altogether avoids devising a guiding theme for its six episodes, which each run approximately fifteen minutes long. It also features cameos from famous faces, most notably Paul Walter Hauser as a man who comes to regret joining in his card game buddies’ complaints about their wives—leading to a prolonged flashback having to do with his beef with a rival community theater cast member. Robinson’s longtime partner Sam Richardson (with whom he starred in Comedy Central’s Detroiters) also joins in the madness as the MC of a corporate event dubbed the Little Buff Boys Competition—featuring adolescent kids wearing “goose suits” (i.e. fake muscles)—during which he spouts nonsense like “Look at this guy’s horse chest” and “Look at this little brick shithouse.”
Richardson’s Little Buff Boys sketch recalls his season one bit hosting an infant beauty contest, and the rest of Season 2 also predominantly sticks to the script that helped turn the series into a meme-worthy cult favorite; the biggest detour is a parody film trailer about a Santa Claus-headlined action film that segues into an even weirder junket interview session. Still, such familiarity isn’t the same thing as rehashing; even though the framework he employs is recognizable, Robison concocts a variety of novel ways to generate laughs from cringey encounters and interpersonal contexts. Be it a courtroom trial in which text-message testimony about insider trading winds up focusing on Robinson’s awful-hat-wearing bystander, or a baby shower that goes horribly awry when Robinson’s guest attempts to convince everyone that he’s no longer the piece of shit he used to be, the show gets tremendous mileage out of volatility, public indignities, and generally operating with more than a few screws loose.
It’s no surprise that Tim Heidecker and Bob Odenkirk also make appearances, considering that I Think You Should Leave is a kindred spirit to Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and Mr. Show with Bob and David. Still, Robinson’s blend of nerdiness, awkwardness and rage is unique, and gives the series its combustible energy. One is never quite sure if he’s going to say something mortifying, insulting and/or unacceptable, and whether that utterance will be followed up by slinking off in shame or lashing out with buffoonish fury. Even better is when he simply becomes fanatically fixated on a particular idea or word and won’t let go, as in an instant-classic late sketch about a driver’s education class.
The less I Think You Should Leave makes sense, the funnier it becomes, and fortunately, Robinson’s latest collection of craziness rarely flirts with reality or sanity, swerving about with reckless abandon in search of social setups it can surrealistically warp. Comedy of discomfort doesn’t come much more ridiculous, inspired, and meme-able than this.