Netflix recently ordered a second season of the obscure sketch comedy show, “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.” The series, starring Robinson (“Saturday Night Live,” “Detroiters”) and directed by Alice Mathias and Akiva Schaffer, falls under a certain category of surreal humor that has been gaining popularity in the last few years with programs like “The Eric Andre Show” and “Nathan For You.” While “I Think You Should Leave” is not necessarily easy to digest, it might be a good place to start for those looking to get into this dada-reminiscent genre, as its sketches are short and snappy and, while the actual plots are unrelated, each storyline follows a similar pattern — an ordinary situation becomes bizarre when somebody — usually Robinson himself — flies off the rails in an unpredictable direction.
The sketch that opens the series sets the perfect tone for everything that will follow. Robinson is in a café finishing up a job interview that seems to have gone in his favor. As he exits, he tries to pull the door open. Matthew J. Cates, the interviewer, sees his struggle and says, “Looks like you have to push.” Robinson, however, with a stiff smile, insists that it goes both ways. Cates shrugs, and Robinson begins to yank the door with all his might. Menacing music builds, the door slowly splintering open, as Robinson, still pulling, turns to make eye contact with Cates. The hinges pop off; Robinson’s face is bright red, veins bulging in his forehead, while Cates remains somewhat neutral, if a little distraught. Drool runs down Robinson’s chin and the screen flashes progressively faster back and forth between their two faces until, finally, the door is forced entirely open. “See?” Robinson says, “Hope to hear from you soon.”
The show’s general formula is often successful in setting up hilariously uncomfortable situations. But occasionally, a sketch does not quite hit the mark. The second sketch in the sixth and last episode of season one features a made-up gameshow called “Dan Vega’s Mega Money Quiz,” in which Robinson plays the host, Dan Vega. The only humor comes from Robinson screaming at “the Chunky” — a man in an Elmo-like costume whose role in the game is to steal the money that the contestants have won — for speaking, because “the mouth on the [costume] doesn’t move! It looks fake!” But, the show being as self-aware as it is, the punchline is Robinson breaking the fourth wall, saying, “Yeah, that’s a good idea. Dump it,” thereby acknowledging the failed sketch, which ends up being its redeeming quality.
“I Think You Should Leave” is by no means political, but in certain moments it pokes fun at minor contemporary woes. In one such moment, three women post pictures on Instagram of themselves at brunch. Two out of the three come up with harmlessly deprecating captions: “Brunch with these two dum-dums” and “Sunday Funday with these idiots!” The third, Vanessa Bayer, takes her caption a little too far: “Eating crap with these sacks of shit. If they died tomorrow, no one would shed a tear.”
The second season of “I Think You Should Leave” is set to be released in early 2020 on Netflix. In the meantime, the entire first season can be watched in under two hours and rewatched again and again until each sketch can be recited from memory.