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

Kroll Show: “The Time Of My Life”

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Though he wasn’t employed well in the show’s first season, Dr. Armond has always been one of Kroll Show’s stranger characters. He doesn’t have the same over-the-top zaniness of a lot of Nick Kroll’s most popular characters. In fact, he’s marked by his lack of exaggeration, relentlessly unfazed and expressionless even when his whole life is falling apart around him. His calm and unchanging demeanor gives him a serial killer vibe, and yet, he’s a bizarrely heartfelt guy who loves his spoiled son Roman (Andy Milonakis) and (spoiler alert!) thought-to-be-dead wife Shannon. It’s a weird concept for a character, but it works well, especially when the show pushes Armond into the most ridiculous of situations.

Tonight, the tale of Dr. Armond comes to a close, and it turns out his whole life has been a lie. Everything that has happened to him in the past two years—his marriage, the murder, the trial—has all been an elaborate adventure devised by Roman and funded by his own money. Whether this was the plan the writers had all along for Dr. Armond doesn’t really matter, because it’s excellently executed regardless. The implication is that just about every character on Kroll Show had a hand in the prank, further connecting the show’s universe and making for a pretty fantastic reveal.

The ever-expanding web Kroll Show creates has always been what sets it apart from most other sketch shows. None of the sketches or characters exist in a vacuum, giving the writers plenty of opportunities to play around with different character combinations and crossover sketches. Sometimes the connecting ties are small ones. For example, in this episode, Roman’s ringtone is Nash Rickey’s “L.A. Deli.” We hear a mere two seconds of the tune, but it’s instantly recognizable. Kroll Show has done such a strong job of weaving recurring bits and callbacks throughout its three seasons, making us intimately familiar with all its weirdos and their lives.

And because Kroll Show never skips on the details, especially when it comes to the editing, the interconnected nature of the show leads to really interesting and smart direction choices. The way the Show Us Your Songs Commonwealth set is lit and shot during the highly stylized thriller Armond Le Monde is totally different from how it’s shot and lit during actual installments of Show Us Your Songs Commonwealth. Those differences are subtle, but they lend to the fluid and authentic feel of Kroll Show.

This all goes back to the specificity of Kroll Show’s parody, which always tackles every single aspect of whatever form its lampooning instead of just going for the obvious jokes. Everything from the cartoony font to the musical cues to the heightened drama and quick cuts of Toilet Dad make it feel every bit like an MTV reality series. And the show uses the form to package its jokes, like when the text over Cassandra’s first scene says “NOBODY” instead of her name.

Though the other sketches are strong, the episode certainly belongs to Dr. Armond, which ends with his death. I can’t think of a more perfect way for him to die than with a blank face as his heart explodes and the omnipresent “you did it” sound effect plays. And I think John Levenstein’s Judge Levenstein speaks for us all when he eulogizes Dr. Armond: “You went on the adventure of a lifetime. I love you.”


Stray observations:

  • This excerpt from my notes deserves to make it into this review in some capacity, so here we go: Jenny Slate got constipated in France.
  • The European Man’s how-to guide to cannibalism is so chilling, and I love every second of it.
  • Welcome back, “Pleep Ploop.”
  • All the cuts to the chaos of C-Czar and Bob Ducca’s Goo-Goo Glasses pitch at the PubLIZity offices are wonderful. Slate makes the best noises.
  • Even better than the dry, monotonous way Armond talks about horrifying things like murder is the dry, monotonous way he delivers puns.
  • Next week is the series finale of Kroll Show, and I am fully in denial about it.