A few nights ago, Todd and I had a familiar conversation about what to watch while eating dinner together. He suggested a new sketch comedy show on Netflix, I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson, and I agreed. After all, it was only about 20 minutes long, and if it was bad, we could just stop. That is the joy of Netflix after all.
But we didn’t stop. We kept watching episode after episode until we had watched the entire series. Episode after episode. For the most part, I sat with my mouth hanging open in shock.
I don’t know much about Tim Robinson. I know he had a show called Detroiters on Comedy Central, and he was once a cast member and writer on SNL. He graduated from the same high school as my stepmom in Clarkston, Michigan. All of that tells me absolutely nothing about his sense of humor, which is what shocked me about the show. It’s a type of humor I haven’t engaged with much, since I missed the cult classic Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and I’m not sure I was fully prepared for I Think You Should Leave. Here’s an example of the show’s approach to comedy:
In this sketch, a group of women try to decide how to caption their Instagram posts. Two women follow the rules of “if you look cute you have to say something a little mean about yourself,” while one takes that principle and goes buckwild, calling her friends “bags of meat,” among other things. That woman’s captions become more and more ludicrous, until finally, she posts a caption that seems too wild and offensive to be true, ending by saying, “I tagged you both in that.” When her friends ask why she says, “Why are you guys bullying me?!” More than anything else, this sketch is an example of how overwhelmingly weird the show is, and that’s what makes it work. Because it’s a sketch show, there’s no real context for each bit. Viewers are thrown into the bizarre world of each scene and expected to piece together the relationships between characters. This lack of context is what makes this particular brand of weird comedy work so well. The complete strangeness of Tim Robinson’s brand of humor creates a disconnect from reality that’s inherently funny.
In a way, this sort of comedy reads like magical realism to me. Hear me out, here. In magical realism, the world of the story is largely the same except for a few small details that no one questions. In I Think You Should Leave, the world is familiar. Cafes exist, and women do sometimes brunch there. But the excessive, gratuitous captions on the women’s (and especially that one woman’s) Instagram post isn’t really true, not to that extent. The world is the same, but one little thing is off. No, I Think You Should Leave is not magical realism, but when I hear someone refer to a bowel movement as “mudpie” frequently, and no one else on the show bats an eye, I have to think something’s up.
There’s not really a great way to describe the humor on I Think You Should Leave, or describe the show itself. I just think you should watch it because it’s strange, and it’s short, and it’s got an allstar cast. Weirdness makes us step outside of our normal lives for a moment and really appreciate the range of emotion and thought humans are capable of.
Go watch it, have a laugh, and enjoy the strange strange Tim Robinson.
I leave you with my favorite sketch from the show, “The Man.”