Tim Robinson’s Guide to Comedy – Rolling Stone – Jarastyle

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In the second sketch of the third season of I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, one character admits, “I just take everything way too far! I got too hyper.”

This line could be part of pretty much every ITYSL sketch, both in this new season and in the two previous ones, since every bit on the show is in some way or other about people who take things too far, usually in a hyper way. But then again, most of these characters would not have enough self-awareness to recognize this particular flaw, and pointing it out to them would only lead to more arguing and wrangling.

The series, created by Robinson and Zach Kanin, has only produced 18 episodes so far, counting the six that premiered on Netflix today, and all of them clock in around 15 minutes. Combined, that’s maybe only a little more than two episodes of Ted Lasso, yet ITYSL has become one of the most beloved, and by far the most memed, comedy series of the last few years. And even in such a small amount of screen time, the series has established many different and unmistakable variations on the idea of taking things too far.

So instead of spoiling various jokes from the new season — other than to say that fans of Biff Wiff’s performance as Santa Claus in Season Two will not be disappointed by his appearance here — let’s instead break down the types of jokes you should expect to see, along with examples of them from seasons past.

The joke someone can’t let go of.

There are two variations on this. In one, the main character (usually but not always played by Robinson) either tells a joke that gets a modest laugh, or hears someone else successfully tell a joke and clumsily tries to get in on the action. In either case, the one joke then becomes two, then three, then 12, each of them increasingly misunderstanding the appeal of the original gag, and soon no one can get anything done as this maniac just keeps going. They’ve done this one early and often, like when Vanessa Bayer played a woman who can’t quite master the art of the self-deprecating Instagram caption:

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The other variation — and there’s an excellent example of this in the new season involving Robinson and Jason Schwartzman — has one character tell a mild joke, followed by another character taking the idea of that joke intensely seriously, usually for a very long time. Maybe the best example of this was the Season One sketch where Robinson’s “Honk If You’re Horny” bumper sticker inspires an irrationally engorged driver to follow him everywhere — including to a funeral — honking and beeping the entire time.

People who are obsessed with a thing that is not a thing — until sometimes, it is.

There’s a tradition in stand-up where comedians talk about their fondness for phrases no one has ever said before. George Carlin, for instance, once wished he could walk into a crowded party and scream, “I’ve been thinking about having my testicles laminated!” (The more family-friendly version: Ray Romano suggests saying, “Give me back my fudge suitcase!”) I Think You Should Leave takes the concept even further, repeatedly showing its characters fixating on a concept that no one has ever heard of, usually with good reason.

Season Two, for instance, gave us Robinson as a man on a business trip who stopped eating so he could spend his entire per diem on shirts at a local clothing store, insisting that their complicated patterns made them hugely valuable. And it also offered him up as a man full of regret for his days as a piece of shit, which included regular trips to a restaurant where he and his crew would enjoy “sloppy steaks” — aka regular steaks with water dumped all over them — much to the dismay of the wait staff.

Often, these weird obsessions are treated with confusion and/or dismay by the other characters, but every now and then, the show changes it up by having this weird idea turn out to be entirely real. When Robinson confronts the Honk If You’re Horny guy, the other driver is convinced that the bumper sticker means that Robinson provides a service for frustrated men like himself, driving around with pornographic magazines in his trunk. An exasperated Robinson insists that such a service doesn’t exist, but then it turns out that his trunk is, in fact, full of porn.


The guy in denial of something obvious.

This is the idea at the core of perhaps the quintessential ITYSL sketch, where Robinson plays a man in a hot dog costume who has clearly crashed a hot dog-shaped car into a store window, even as he insists, “We’re all trying to find the guy who did this!” 

In the world of this show, people make their own reality, and shaking them from it can be impossible.

The pest who becomes the hero

The reason that so many ITYSL characters get hung up on invented ideas and/or obvious lies is that half the time, they turn out to be in the right, or at least celebrated for their iconoclastic ways — the person who begins a sketch as an irritating distraction to the goal at hand soon becomes everybody else’s favorite. The most famous example of this is probably the sketch where an old man, played by Ruben Rabasa, dominates a focus group for a car manufacturer, railing against the notion that a steering wheel could fly out of your hands while driving, then taunting Paul (played by Kanin) for trying to take matters seriously. But where everyone is uncomfortable at first with Rabasa, they eventually are cheering him on in his harangues of Paul, including a bunch of wildly dated mother-in-law jokes. 

Or take the sketch where Robinson is a party guest who can tell Steven Yeun doesn’t like his birthday gift, and demands the gift receipt back to prove Yeun is lying. Robinson’s behavior initially makes everyone else uncomfortable, but soon he’s ranting about “sloppy mud pies,” and how he is now ill because of Yeun’s improper bathroom wiping, and then

the entire party has taken his side and turned against Yeun. Robinson is dead at the end of the sketch, but he still wins, because he was proven right.

The unexpected detour

Because the episodes are so short, Robinson and Kanin subscribe to the theory that a sketch doesn’t always need a beginning, middle, and end, often choosing to abruptly stop right after a joke. And at times, that last joke is an insane non-sequitur that recontextualizes everything that’s happened before. Last season, for instance, saw a fake trailer for Detective Crashmore, about a profane, violent, aging cop taking the law into his own hands. The joke initially just seems to be a parody of Taken-esque movies with gray-haired action heroes, but then we get to the punchline, where we learn that Crashmore is being played by Santa Claus.


And at times, these unexpected changes in direction allow a sketch to run much longer than you would expect from the initial premise. There’s one in the new season where a pharmaceutical commercial for a hair loss solution turns into a rivalry between the pitchman and a would-be customer, while one of Season Two’s most popular sketches saw an ad to save cable channel Corncob TV turn into a long series of clips from that network’s most popular show, Coffin Flop, which is just hidden camera footage of dead bodies somehow falling out of coffins.

There are other frequently-used sketch archetypes — it should surprise no one that Robinson’s old Detroiters co-star Sam Richardson once again hosts a fake game show this season — but the impressive thing about the series is how these now-familiar formulas in no way detract from the amusement of watching I Think You Should Leave. It remains one of TV’s best, and certainly most efficient, laugh machines.


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Courtesy : https://www.rollingstone.com/tv-movies/tv-movie-reviews/i-think-you-should-leave-season-3-tim-robinson-sketch-comedy-guide-netflix-zach-kanin-1234740730/