I made the mistake of ditching former “Saturday Night Live” writer and cast member Tim Robinson’s new sketch show, “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” five minutes into the first episode. It was just too weird and strange for me.
Only after a friend’s recommendation did I return to it. So, I sat down, popped in some headphones and got ready to gut through a couple of episodes to see if it was really that good. And boy, it was.
If you’re looking for sophisticated, high-brow humor, sarcastic jokes or witty remarks, “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson” is not for you. The show is full of everyday situations (and some fake commercials) that turn very, very awkward.
This awkwardness is usually caused by one character who simply does not understand social norms or human behavior (hence the title). The humor is similar to “The Office,” if its characters put on an episode of “SNL” and dialed up the cringe by nine levels.
The weird characters in these scenarios written by Tim Robinson, Zach Kanin and John Solomon are often portrayed by Tim Robinson himself, although the cast features other well-known names, like Andy Samberg, Cecily Strong and Vanessa Bayer, among others.
Tim Robinson’s loud rants, overpronunciations and crazy mannerisms lend well to this out of place and socially unaware character type. This is part of what was missing in the opening sketch of the first episode that turned me away.
The first bit is the end of a job interview at a restaurant. After getting up from the table to leave, Robinson’s character walks to the door and pulls on a push door. The interviewer points this out, to which Robinson insists it does both. He then continues to pull on the door, breaking it in the process and staring intensely at the interviewer.
While a funny concept, it is a little lame and predictable. Robinson doesn’t quite get into his manic, tirade-spewing character, nor is there an extra twist at the end, causing the sketch to be cringy, but not the funny kind of cringy.
The next few sketches are a bit better, but the show hadn’t really established itself as to what kind of humor to expect. Honestly, I was confused and unsure of what I was watching.
“I Think You Should Leave” doesn’t really hits its stride until the last sketch of the first episode. In this one, Tim Robinson’s character doesn’t believe his friend likes the birthday gift he gave him and demands his friend give him the gift receipt so he can’t return it. Things take a weird turn though after Robinson eats the receipt, gets sick and claims it is because his friend had poop on his hands.
This sketch is similar to the first one in that it creates a humorous and awkward situation that is somewhat relatable. Haven’t we all given a gift to someone and felt a little hurt if they didn’t appreciate it?
What makes the gift receipt bit work though — as opposed to the restaurant interview sketch — is that this one really pushes the envelope in terms of craziness.
Not only do you see Robinson in this awkward situation, but he freaks out and exaggerates his reactions to turn it from just a little creepy to ridiculously hilarious. It also throws in a curveball at the end that makes the sketch less predictable and allows you to laugh at the absurdity of it. Without this, the sketch simply becomes hard to watch and makes you uncomfortable.
This is a concept used throughout the six episodes of the series. It starts with a normal situation and a funny idea, takes you one way with it, then as soon as you start to pick up on it, takes you in a whole other direction with something new and insane. Or in the case of the gift receipt one, disgusting.
For the most part, this model works well for the show and creates some hilarious moments, like motorcycle-loving aliens admiring earth’s various forms of transportation, an inappropriate funeral organist and a hot dog car crash.
“I Think You Should Leave” does have its faults though. Some sketches simply fall flat, like one set at an awards show, where the presenter continuously accuses a women’s dog of biting him while on stage. It is kind of weird and confusing but is saved by an unexpected fall as Robinson’s character tries to walk onstage.
The language can also get pretty crude and disgusting. For example, in a sketch featuring a whoopie cushion, Robinson describes scenarios that include farting, pooping himself and diarrhea, to put it mildly. Whether or not you’ll find some of these sketches funny is essentially pre-determined by your own sense of humor. But if you love a good poop joke, then you will love the show.
The sketches can get a little repetitive as well. As mentioned before, they often center around one person not understanding social norms and leading to a freak out while with a group of people. By the last episode, it feels like you’re watching the same thing again and you can see where it’s going pretty quickly. And after a while, hearing Robinson overenunciate “Oh my God” and talking about mud pies just loses its appeal.
The binge-ability of “I Think You Should Leave” — because they are pretty short and all available on Netflix — fatigues you quicker to the show and style of humor, as previous episodes are still fresh in your mind.
Despite all of this, “I Think You Should Leave” is still a great show. It’s funny, surprising and doesn’t come with the daunting commitment a sitcom with 10 seasons does. If you’re looking for some entertainment on a slow afternoon, look no further than this wild, crazy ride through the mind of Tim Robinson.