The last episode of With Bob And David mixes together everything that made Bob, David, and the rest of the Mr. Show team a permanent fixture in comedy culture. There’s the dynamic sketch structure, the committed performances, the satirical stabs, but most importantly, there’s the absurd, yet oddly humanistic worldview. As much as Mr. Show was about attacking tradition and tearing down idols through comedy, it was also about the community of sharp minds putting on a show. Watch those early Mr. Show episodes and you’ll see some of the most imaginative writers and performers making great comedy practically with cardboard and duct tape, and even when their budget got slightly larger, it was still very small-scale. Yet it never distracted from the size of their ambition or heart because Bob and David were always on the side of the underdogs, even if they occasionally made fun of them.
Take the “Heaven Is Totez For Realz” sketch, which features a young boy named Cory on the Dina Smothers Country Morning Talk! talk show discussing his experiences in Heaven while he was in a coma. Though he mentions adorable, heartwarming things at first, like how he played baseball with Babe Ruth and met his grandfather for the first time, he eventually mentions that people like Adolf Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer are also in Heaven because God loves all of His children. Naturally, the talk show crowd, Dina Smothers, and even Cory’s parents, who are mostly interested in the book sales of Cory’s bestselling memoir, turn their backs on him as soon as he brings this up. It’s a great premise that incidentally captures Bob and David’s perspective wonderfully: They’ll always be aligned with the Cory’s of the world, the people who have no vested interest in manipulating the truth for personal or financial gain. Cory learned that God loves all of his children, even the “bad” ones, but none of the adults want their simple worldview complicated by this revelation. So what do they do? They decide to kill Cory so he can go back to Heaven and “get it right.” It’s maybe the most concise and clever illustration of how flawed ideology can cloud the already narrow-minded I have seen this year.
Though Bob claims early in the episode that this one is “the weakest of the four,” it couldn’t be farther from the truth. “Episode 4” contains some of the best sketches in all of With Bob And David. Other than the “Heaven Is Totez For Realz” sketch, there’s the Banes & Dunfrey music video, a parody of mainstream country music that praises “simple living.” In the sketch, Banes & Dunfrey sing about how all they need is beer, ribs, and chew to have a good time, but soon their list of provisions gets longer and more “high-class,” beginning with detergent and ending with “some artisanal Cronuts.” It’s mostly funny watching Becky Thyre play the random woman who grabs all of these items for Banes & Dunfrey, it’s a good skewering of those who make their millions looking down on people who are supposedly “fancy.”
The other big sketch of the episode is the masterful “Salesman” sketch, which features a motley crew of terrible door-to-door salesman who, as it’s slowly revealed, don’t actually know how to make a sale. It’s a great showcase for both Bob and David who play Rick “The Turnip” Murphy, a hapless salesman, and Roger “The Man” Baker, his boss who recalls Alec Baldwin’s character from Glengarry Glen Ross, respectively. It’s arguably With Bob And David’s most luxurious sketch seeing as the humor doesn’t really come from a reveal or twist, but just the absurdity of the characters and their world. It’s a nice change of pace, and it’s great to see the salesman go around the table and recount their worst days: “I once sold brushes, uh, I went out with ten brushes in my kit. Came home, I had 12 brushes. That was my worst day. I bought two brushes.” But Bob always shines when he plays characters that are barely hiding their desperation, and that really comes out to play when Rick and his new ride-along partner (Jon Barinholtz) are selling Qurans door to door. They arrive at a house that’s eager to buy multiple Qurans for a mosque they’re starting, but Rick keeps trying to compromise the sale because he’s so used to rejection. He keeps trying to get up to leave or convincing the buyers that they don’t really want the Qurans, and eventually goes to wait in the car because he’s so nervous. In the end, the newcomer sells more Qurans than every other salesman and gets a cold, fly-ridden steak dinner as a reward, and Rick only asks for one fly to tide him over. The “Salesman” sketch is so rich with detail and flavor that it probably could have lasted an entire episode, but clocking in at roughly eight minutes, it feels just long enough.
On the whole, With Bob And David was a worthy successor to Mr. Show. It kept most of the elements that made the original great, but tweaked the formula slightly so it stands on its own. It gave fans a chance to see familiar faces and it hopefully gave newcomers a reason to go back and watch the old show. With Bob And David embodies the best of what the Netflix revival model can accomplish, which is to give seasoned talent a platform to do what they do best. Though the Internet is certainly a boondoggle, I can’t envision seeing With Bob And David on any other medium.
But fuck this shit. There’s a guy in the parking lot playing devil sticks. It’s like a mixture of Cirque Du Soleil meets Matthew McConaughey’s older brother. I gotta check that out.
- Other sketches this episode: “The Amazing Moms” sketch, which had a funny premise and gives David a chance to play a burnout, but was a little too thin and eventually began to drag, and the “Exam Room 3” sketch which was short but sweet.
- Jeffrey Tambor reads the audio book for Now That’s What I Call Heaven, the sequel to Heaven Is Totez For Realz.
- Another great minor joke from the Banes & Dunfrey sketch. Their album is called Send To: Banes & Dunfrey, 1362 Bishop Street, Nashville, TN 37206.
- Favorite Momism: “A child in jail is a hug waiting to be set free!”
- I love at the end when David gets pissed at everyone leaving to go see Donny play devil sticks. His anger is always righteous in the best way. “Devil sticks, really? You’re just gonna hear 311 from a shitty boombox.”
- “Don’t deny me my shower rights.”
- “Sunshine, tell me you’ve got some goddamn floral water and heartwood or I’ll break both your fucking legs!”
- “We will not sit here and have you mock God as some all-forgiving monster!”
- “The procedure is known as voluntary cardiac arrest. What we’ll do is ice down Cory’s heart to the point where he will ‘die.’ I don’t know why I’m doing air quotes. He will die.”
- “Ease your mind, sir. We’re not here to rape your wife.”
- “Okay, so here’s what we’re gonna do, ladies. We’re gonna pull up our hoop-skirts, you’re gonna get on your scooters, you’re gonna put your little tea set away, we’re gonna go down to the lipstick store, put lipstick all over us, get some nice eye shadow, in case Chad Huntley is at the park, cause he’s the cutest boy and he wants everyone to notice him, doesn’t he? Wipe your tears with your little apron, then take your tutu off, get back on your tricycle, ride away, and sell me some books!”
- That’s all folks! Here’s hoping Bob, David, and the rest of the crew get back together again real soon.