Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kroll Show: “The Commonwealth Games”

Illustration for article titled Kroll Show: “The Commonwealth Games”

Show Us Your Songs Commonwealth and Pawnsylvania work together to drive most of Kroll Show tonight, opening with Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland arriving in Pittsburgh to prank pawn shop owner Don with Too Much Tuna. The Oh Hello hosts are some of the best characters on Kroll Show, and seeing them play around in new environments this season has been very funny. Don, being the doofus that he is, is actually entertained by the tuna prank.

Show Us Your Songs travels the world to give the happy citizens of the queen’s commonwealth a chance to make it to the finale in London, and it leads to some great guest appearances. Bo Burnham plays a street rat from London who may or may not have stolen a piano. Between his guest appearances on Portlandia and Broad City, Kumail Nanjiani is quickly becoming my favorite guest star on television. Here, he appears as Mahnoor Basra, a peace activist who does political performance art in place of actually singing a song. Eugene Cordero also appears as an injured breakdancer from Samoa, and Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter plays himself when the show travels to Jamaica.

But the best guest bit has to be Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler as “Die Vra,” a parody of the totally bizarre South African rap duo Die Antwoord. Hair and makeup does a very accurate job of making Schaal look like Yolandi Vi$$er, and the obviously sharpied-on tattoos on Braunohler are hilarious (BBQ with an arrow pointed to his right nipple is probably my favorite).

It’s super fun to watch how characters grow on Kroll Show, especially since even the smallest of characters can really pop back up at any time for more. We first met Australian actor R. Schrift back in season two on Rocks & Roll, an 80s television show about a renegade archeologist. Kroll then appeared as R. Schrift in a September 2014 episode of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast to tease some of the things we see in tonight’s episode of Kroll Show. R. Schrift’s latest endeavor is another wonderfully 80s program about a part-man, part-machine—aptly titled Manchine—who solves crimes. Well, he really just solves basic problems using simple technology. And there’s a love story in there too, obviously.

R. Schrift also appears as a guest judge on Show Us Your Songs Commonwealth, and plugs one of his other shows: Dentist The Mentalist. Even though I could have easily watched an entire episode of Dentist The Mentalist, the brief moments we get here and then in the tag definitely satisfy.

Over in Pawnsylvania, Murph travels down to Pittsburgh to seek guidance from Don, which he finds through a piss painting and a game of bag throw/corn hole. Paul F. Thompkins shows up as Anthony Downpour, a local meteorologist who gives the forecast and the lottery numbers simultaneously, with a whole lot of confusing graphics behind him. That bit, along with all the unintelligible dialogue from the various characters in this sketch, make this another solid installment of Pawnsylvania. It’s also a clear example of how good Kroll Show writers are at not only crafting sketches that are funny but that also have a very clear arc. Pawnsylvania isn’t just a dumping ground for Pennsylvania jokes; there’s a story here, and that makes it more compelling to watch, no matter how ridiculous it is.


Stray observations:

  • “This is a big scooper for cocaine.”
  • “This is both from my hand and from a pool.”
  • “She was putting pop in your second fridge.”
  • “I guess I’ll give a shoutout to the 25 coffee shops in Scotland that claim that J.K. Rowling wrote her novels there.”
  • “The only art I’m interested is that tattoo my girl’s got on her back of the Liberty Bell where the crack…is her crack.”
  • I love the repeated use of the “you did it” sound effect in this episode.