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

With Bob And David emphasizes the absurd over the political

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From its very inception, Mr. Show’s point of view was contrarian in nature. As Erik Adams points out in his TV Club 10, it didn’t look or sound like a traditional sketch show, nor did it have a large ensemble cast or writer’s room either. (In many ways, it was the anti-SNL.) But more than that, both Bob Odenkirk and David Cross had some Gen-X “Fuck you” fire in their respective veins and channeled their distrust of authority into the series. Mr. Show always had a satirical bent to it, but its targets were broad, like Global Capitalism, Organized Religion, Celebrity, and of course, Television. Not to mention they would turn their sights on the counter-culture itself, no matter how bugaboo it got them.

Yet Bob and David’s comedic ends were always more absurd than specifically political. Though they took shots at The Culture with GloboChem, WPCBCN (White People Co-opting Black Culture Network), and Ronnie Dobbs, they were never ones to preach a message rather than go for a laugh. They were more likely to end a pointed sketch with a song than with a speech. Bob and David were the best at using taboo subjects for the bizarre and over-the-top, not for debate, neutering what makes them taboo in the first place.

Image for article titled With Bob And David emphasizes the absurd over the political

In the beginning of “Episode 2,” Bob and David introduce a small runner about the picture of the prophet Mohammed, or rather the nonsensical phrase “A prophure of the picmed of Mohaphet,” that eventually spirals into a sketch about Imams running television networks and complaining about “pilot season” over lunch at fancy Hollywood restaurants. Though Bob and David are certainly aware of the dicey nature of using the imagery and language of violent extremists for comedy (evidenced by this Vulture interview), especially in these trying times, neither the sketch nor the episode mocks religion or violence. Instead, they make the point that people in power will inevitably shove their agenda down the throats of whomever they control. In this instance, Bob and David draw a line between Hollywood suits and the Imams in the sketch when David’s character brings the Imams a new pilot script that is a “no-holds-barred look at modern relationships,” which they immediately want to change completely to something they would want to see, the stoning of an adulteress. It’s a barbed joke, but one that has silliness on its mind more so than politics, emphasized by the 72 virgins at the end of the episode that are really male geeks who want to ask Bob and David every annoying question in the book (“Uh, Bob, um, are you making more Breaking Bads.”)

Image for article titled With Bob And David emphasizes the absurd over the political

“Episode 2” also features some of the best sketches in With Bob And David so far. First, there’s the “Interrogation Sketch” with Bob and David playing versions of the Good Cop and Bad Cop, only each keep accidentally hurting each other’s feelings in front of the criminal. It has a great structure that allows for each successive misunderstanding to build upon the last until the stubborn criminal becomes the sole voice of reason bringing the two cops back from the brink (“This is my fault. I was just playing hard to question!”). Then, both the Extra Beatle and the Einstein Poster Trailer sketch have absurd premises that Bob and David take to their logical ends, and then even further to their illogical end. For example, it’s not enough for the Extra Beatle sketch to end with David “Gruber” Allen’s hippie character rambling on about the Beatle, but instead he’s given the microphone to ramble by himself only to get hit by a car.


With Bob and David closes its second episode with the “Rooms: The Musical” sketch, about two dry cleaner employees and a disgruntled customer writing a hit Broadway musical about a “house who tells its story through song.” Mr. Show had plenty of great musical sketches in its run, such as “The Joke: The Musical,” “Jeepers Creepers: Semi-Star,” and “Fuzz: The Musical”, often as an excuse to showcase David’s accomplished singing as well as Bob’s less accomplished singing. The reason why these sketches shined was because of the high quality of the music itself, which allowed the jokes and the absurdity of the premise to shine through brightly. Though “Rooms: The Musical” isn’t a full-blown musical but rather a musical writers’ room of sorts, it’s still great watching David use his set of pipes again and having Bob, David, and Ennis intently say, “Shut up” to each other.

Ultimately, “Episode 2” highlights how Bob and David can use the same set of tools for slightly different purposes. With Bob and David has a similar tone to Mr. Show, but it’s ultimately not the same. It’s a little less structured and has more of a grab bag variety to it, but what hasn’t changed that much is their perspective. Though their point of view has definitely developed over 20 years, it’s remarkable how much of it has been retained. Bob and David may be older, but they’re no less considerate or idiosyncratic. And they’re even nice enough to sign an excitable male virgin’s tits as well.


Stray Observations:

  • Today in With Bob and David names: Yellin’ Ellen Bellman of The Broadway Reviewtime.
  • Bob and David whispering out to the audience was very well played.
  • Maybe my favorite throwaway line in the episode: Bob telling the head of comedy why they wouldn’t show a picture of the prophet Mohammed: “It’s not that funny.”
  • John Ennis’ over-the-top British accent was also stellar, especially because the Americanized and non-Americanized versions are identical.
  • It’s great to see Tom Kenny in this kind of sketch context again. His Oscar correspondent was wonderful: “It’s too early to say, but not too squirrely to spray my excitement all over your face for a brand new film that’s coming down the pike with Oscar in its sights!”
  • The dry cleaner’s sketch was another episode highlight if for no other reason than it gives Odenkirk the opportunity to play an indifferent slacker, which was always a Mr. Show highlight. “Oh, dude, you almost got the sleeve in my barbecue sauce just now.”
  • “He doesn’t have a perfect life! He’s got shit with his wife. He’s got this hot garage, guest house with the Mexican tiles.”
  • “Alright, what did he tell you about the full-on homosexual experience I had in college?”
  • “I mean, try it this way, if you had an invisible third arm that was paralyzed, would you miss it?”
  • “Oh, come on. I’m just a stupid old flapper. All my friends quit doing this 20 years ago! You know, flappin’ around.”
  • “Yeah, I’m just a leftover link from a sketch that got cut. You don’t want to know.”
  • “You know what? I’m willing to go out on a limb here. No, fuck what that ticket says, I’m serious.”
  • Other questions the 72 virgins ask Bob and David: 1. “Are you and Bob ever gonna get together and do something? Are you guys still friends?”; 2. “What about the Arrested Development movie?”; 3. “When you did that third Chipmunks movie…why?”; 4. “Hey, what was Chris Farley like?”; 5. “I have a monkey and a llama named Bob and David. Just thought you wanted to know.”