Although this episode followed the same format of every Kroll Show—a mix of smaller and longer-form pieces cut together, dipping back into the same sketches throughout the episode to get away from the SNL problem of things feeling overlong. But this was the most disjointed Kroll Show thus far, with its main sketch (“Pony Tales,” an intentionally muted faux documentary on loser men with ponytails) just a little too sleepy to really hold things together.
“Pony Tales” wasn’t unfunny—we had Kroll as the amusingly-accented Barry, a karate expert with a pet lizard who seems to live a lonely life of total solitude and is just waiting for Bruce Leezard to start talking to him. Richard Kind (a surprising but welcome bit of guest-casting) was a dried-out hippie attorney trying to hold on to the good ol’ days, and the wonderful Seth Morris was a crunchy “graphic artist” (read: ClipArt user) caught in the midst of an estrogen storm. Even though the gag was different with all three, there wasn’t enough to really distinguish the jokes, and everything was done in such a painfully draggy way without really elaborating on the set-up.
I enjoyed both Morris and Kind’s performances, but the joke may have worked better with just one character, even though that would mess with the core concept. As it was, it was tough to really latch on to any of the characters beyond the initial joke about each of them.
On the opposite end of the energy spectrum was Fabrice Fabrice, the man so nice they named him… again. This is another of Kroll’s best-known podcast characters who has always popped on programs like Comedy Bang Bang because he’s taken in surprising directions (freestyle slam poetry, surprising references to extreme violence, powers of flight). That’s harder to present onscreen, where he really just comes off as another character in the Bruno stable—flamboyant, fashion-obsessed to the point of looking insane, mostly just making people feel uncomfortable.
Props, then, for the… extreme manner in which Fabrice is presented. His short sketches seem entirely like promos and are being filtered through every single video editing trick known to man. At first I was expecting them to get to more formulaic territory, but they never did. There’s some information that filters through—he definitely has a friend called “Angel” who he’s in a fight with. At one point there’s a segment called “Don’t Judge Me, Judge Judy” that involves him yelling at people. I mean, all of it involves him yelling at people. I did end up longing for the long-form podcast version of Fabrice a little, but still, it was admirably bonkers.
Similarly bonkers (and funny) was the talk show “Can I Finish?” hosted by the wonderful Andy Daly (this show honestly has the best guest casting of any comedy on TV). As a spoof of cable talking heads shows, it was hardly original—sketch shows in particular have been mocking such nonsense since the form came into being. But much like Fabrice’s segment, it was technically very well done, building to a crescendo of noise and shouting. One guest star, Maria Bamford, had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her cameo as a meek pug owner; Brody Stevens also popped up as a Mets fan who gets his mic cut.
Finally, we had the return of Armond, largely hewing to the same jokes (he’s an incredibly deadpan pushover with too much money), even though it had the angle of a new spinoff called “Armond About Town” in which he’s newly-single and living at “The Sportman’s Lounge.” I loved the voice cameo of Armond’s best friend Kelsey Grammer (John Daly, we know it was you), who advises against marriage and mostly seems interested in “titty bars” but like the other Armond sketch, the gag wore thin a little too quickly. I liked that Kroll snuck in an appearance for Andy Milonakis in the stand-up segment, though. Nice seeing how obviously amused he was by his co-star.
The “Drones” spoof was another pretty brilliant sketch on paper, impeccably done (cutting between stock war movie imagery and a drooling Kroll playing with a joystick) but again a little low on energy. Again, it needed to go to another level or advance its plot a little, and instead it kept circling back to the same joke. The “electricity” strippers, on the other hand, felt like a classic 1 a.m. Saturday Night Live skit. Can’t argue with the energy for that one.
- “I’ve eaten three donuts by the time you wake up.” “That’s… nothing to be proud of.”
- Barry will not reveal the age of his ponytail.
- Armond’s son remains a bundle of love. “Maybe you could order me a bunch of food and go on like a two-hour walk.”
- Renick knows how to put together a flyer. “Gs don’t look good in the Papyrus font. It’s a huge problem.”