What *is* a Wheaties shell?
I Think You Should Leave relies on two concepts for excellent comedy: the uncomfortability of social faux pas and the overwhelming ridiculousness of entertainment media and advertising (and occasionally where those two points intersect). It is my belief that I Think You Should Leave transcends the rest of the year in comedy, and must solely be judged on its own merits as opposed to against other, similar but lesser comedy series. Therefore I have mathematically devised a list of the 10 (Ten) best I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson sketches. Why should you, the reader, feel as though I am uniquely qualified to take on such a daunting task? The answer is simple: I’ve watched this show upwards of a handful of times this year, including one more rewatch just to allow my gel-like thoughts to coalesce into a solidified state.
I have not, in fact, simply ranked ten sketches that I think are good. I have ranked every single sketch in the show into a complete list, and then ran that list by fellow I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson experts (including a person who previously worked on the show) to get their feedback. Aside from some standouts and some mild controversy and shouting, they all uniformly said, “This is a good list,” which has reaffirmed by belief that I am not simply an arbiter, but the sole arbiter of what qualifies for the top ten. I will not share the entire list, as I feel that pedants and redditors and the like (or worse, Out Of Context Twitter accounts) will find this list and do the impossibly evil thing of sharing their unwashed opinions with me on twitter.com. While I enjoy feedback and criticism, I strictly do not want to hear which sketches should have been ranked 22 (Twenty-Two) instead of 23 (Twenty-Three). I will, however, share some non-top ten standouts and include their ranking, just to give you a tiny peak behind the curtain of my thought process behind this list.
Also, I will attempt to include video wherever I can of each sketch, so you may watch and understand that my judgments are in fact correct. If I cannot include a video, please understand that all six episodes of I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson are available on netflix.com in, as I understand it, the North America region. If your international version of netlix.com (or the netflix App) does not currently show I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson, then I would recommend looking into VPN software, to help fight against the overwhelming stranglehold that ISPs continue to choke us with in this ever-connected 2020.
Please note as well that I have included the season numbers for each episode, even though there is only one currently existing season of I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson. While I do not intend to change this 2019 list, I do intend to keep a version of this list as a living document, and as such, this is my way of future proofing my results as we careen head first into season 2 (Two), season 3 (Three), or dare I say, season 7 (Lucky Number Sleven). It is entirely for my personal use, and possibly, for future generations years down the line who may want to look back to 2019, and find some quaint joy in the novelty that there was only one season of I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson at the time. “How cheerful,” they will say, drinking cyberwine out of their digital snifters made entirely out of bitcoins. How I loathe them… yet how I wish to be them…
Da Shout Outs
20. Bozo Dubbed Over (S1, E6)
Bozo Dubbed Over is one of the funniest-on-paper sketches in this entire show that for whatever reason, did not translate well on screen. The socially awkward Reggie doesn’t have a youtube video to share with his coworkers during some downtime in a meeting, which causes him to come in the next day and suggest a strangely suspicious video that was uploaded at 6 in the morning and has one view titled Bozo Dubbed Over. An old timey clown show that’s clearly been dubbed over plays and the clown in question, Bozo, starts saying things like “What the fuck, a clownputer? Fuck that, probably got no games,” or “I think this guy’s about to jack off,” while Reggie hastily tries to explain that Bozo did the dub, and that he’s saying what he wanted to say. For whatever problems this sketch had in execution, I still catch myself in the wee hours of the night, while fairies dance around sugarplums in my dreamscape, imagining the surly voice of a monochrome clown saying “I hope nobody goes home and fucks my mom!”
16. Focus Group (S1, E3)
I know I am the only objective reviewer of this show, as I am the only person willing to rank this sketch below the top ten. Every other list would fit this in somehow, or would gracelessly even place this in it’s putrid #1 slot. Focus Group was an undeniably popular sketch and one of the biggest reasons why the show gained so much popularity, largely due to the standout performance of Ruben Rabasa, an elderly Cuban character actor who’s found steady work in telenovelas throughout the 90s. He came seemingly out of nowhere for this role, delivering ridiculous demands for his ideal car in an iconic thick accent. While Ruben’s unexpectedly funny performance is really great, the sketch itself is not the funniest sketch in this show. It’s a fun sketch, but it doesn’t explore the deep avenues many other, stronger sketches do so effectively. It’s short, fun, good for a laugh, and most importantly, easily shareable.
12. The Ghost Of Christmas Way-Future (S1, E4)
This sketch is highly underrated to me. In it, Ebenezer Scrooge has seemingly finished his horrifying night presented by three ghosts, who cause him to do some serious soul searching and give up his miserly ways in the spirit of Christmas. However, as Christmas morning dawns and he joyfully stares out his window, he’s visited by one more ghost: the Ghost Of Christmas Way-Future. Donning in a full suit of mechanical power armor, the Ghost Of Christmas Way-Future enlists Scrooge to help him defeat Skeletrex, an impossibly evil skeleton that has enslaved the human race in the year 3050. On my first watch, I didn’t think much of this sketch. It felt really ridiculous for the sake of being ridiculous. However, on the many rewatches I did, this sketch grew on me hard. It contains so many little jokes, and does an excellent job lampooning every action hero movie trope while simultaneously infantilizing the concept of an Action Hero to the level of maturity of a teenage boy. If you go into this sketch with an open heart, you too will find the love that Scrooge felt that fateful Christmas morning when he bashed that skeleton’s head in with his cane.
Da Top Ten
10. Fenton’s Horse Ranch (S1, E6)
This sketch is short, sweet, and all around an absolutely flawless premise. I almost want to say nothing about it as to allow you to enjoy it for yourself without the sobering, overburdening weight of my opinion. However, I must confess that I, like many others, get a tinge of self-satisfaction explaining something to someone, even if they’d live better and richer lives had they watched the sketch without my intervention. This sketch depicts a couple of a certain age riding horses together out on the ranch until the woman says that the horse the man is riding has a gigantic penis, thus making him feel as though he is inadequate in his masculinity. Fenton’s provides the answer: all of their horses have tiny penises. There’s so much to love about such a short sketch: the curtness and open sexuality of the older couple, the unabashedly high amount of horse cocks that are shown on screen, and after the Fenton’s owners talk about how their first ever horse with a five inch penis tragically passed away, the delivery of “Killed himself…” is so perfectly dour and funny simultaneously. (ADDENDUM: there are a total of two jokes in this entire series that deal with suicide, and while I’m typically not a fan of suicide jokes or anything that mocks something so horrific, both jokes in this show do land for me. I think that the butt of each joke is never the victim, and the circumstances surrounding each one is extremely hyperbolic to the point where it doesn’t feel like it’s making fun of the real, material conditions of suicide victims and people who struggle with suicidal ideation. If this is a dealbreaker for you when it comes to watching this show, I completely understand that reservation. I’d prefer if the show had none at all, but I do think the ones that it has are funny and effective and aren’t about punching down, which I think the show is very generally good at avoiding.) Ultimately, I believe this sketch shows that, much like a horse penis, good things can come in small packages.
9. The Receipt (S1, E1)
This sketch caps off the first episode and is an incredibly wild ride. It starts simple enough, as birthday boy Jacob played be Steven Yeun, best known for his role as Glenn in The Walking Dead, opens the presents he receives from all of his fellow mid-to-late 30s friends. The scene is all too common, a bunch of presents from people who definitely do not know you anymore giving you whatever they could find on discount, and you do your best to put on a nice face and say that every gift is amazing. Then comes Lev, played by Tim Robinson, who says that if Jacob likes the wreath that he bought him for his birthday (which he claims that the guy at the store said has the same one, and that it “works great”), he wouldn’t mind if Jacob gave him back the receipt. From there, things spiral, getting weirder and weirder until Lev, alone at the party with Jacob, tells him “You should know… your wife kissed me on the cheek when I got here.” This sketch is a delectable matroyshka doll, unraveling new secrets every second, and it’ll take you in directions you never expected.
8. Fully Loaded Nachos (S1, E4)
Have you ever been on a date? Has it been going extremely well? Have you ever noticed that your date is eating all the fully loaded nachos? What would you do? This sketch explores one of the deepest anxieties that, I know from personal experience, is deeply embedded in my psyche. This sketch is a warning, to show that open and honest communication with your partner is far easier than manipulation and deceit. It shows that trying to use institutions to reinforce a side in a personal dispute, whether known or unknown to the other party, is manipulation bordering on treachery. This sketch is hilarious. Please watch this sketch.
7. Laser Spine Specialists (S1, E3)
This feels like two simple concepts for sketches that were rolled up into one in a way that feels flawless. It starts with testimonials about how Laser Spine Specialists let these various people with spinal issues get back to the things that matter to them, like being able to ride a bike again, getting back into your garden, and finally being able to fight your wife’s new husband. Soon after, though, the sketch takes a right turn as one of the testimonial guys barges in on back alley recording studio to yell at the owner to stop scamming old people into thinking their stars. The lighting, the framing, and the editing all shift to this shot/reverse shot fast paced conversation between the two men while, occasionally, the Laser Spine Specialists logo will appear in the corner of the screen. It’s impeccably written, impeccably framed, and every time I watch this sketch over again, I can’t stop giggling.
6. Gospel Records Ain’t Sellin’ No More (S1, E5)
While it’s really easy to find the song in this sketch, I don’t want to link directly to it, as I believe that the sketch should be watched in its entirety. This sketch depicts a Johnny Cash-esque figure trying to perform a song for some high level record producers, but gets told that gospel just doesn’t sell anymore, despite Johnny Cash-esque’s protests that it’s a new arrangement. This leads him to bust out his secret weapon, as he starts performing a very Johnny Cash-esque song about a man recounting the experience of getting shot in cold blood in the middle of the street. He leans over to his bassist and pianist/drummer and tells them to “follow my lead in G.” He keeps playing this new style rock that piques the interest of the producer… until the bassist butts in to start singing about how skeletons started coming out of the ground and how the bones were their money. This sketch shows the hubris of creative ego and using a group project for your own selfish means. The bassist struggles with their folly, only to, at the end of the sketch, be horribly rejected. I believe though that, someday, I may have to carry some spare bones on me, should I ever need to bribe a freshly resurrected skeleton.
5. The Intervention (S1, E6)
The final sketch of the first season is one of the finer encapsulations of what makes this style of humor so effective. It starts with a simple premise: an intervention for someone who’s drinking is getting out of hand. A chaos factor: Kate Berlant’s character interjects to say they should have the intervention at her place, which is, as she calls it, a “total party house.” The escalation: the house is covered head to toe in Garfield. The scene continues to escalate in ways that are truly wonderful, and Kate Berlant’s lack of empathy for the situation is so apparent, as she simply wants people to recognize that she owns a Garfield house. Also, her delivery on the line “Drunk little bitch, you make me sick” makes me die laughing every time I hear it, as if she’s able to pass judgment on anyone after having tricked everyone into having an intervention at her Garfield house. It’s a truly excellent cap off to the first season of an excellent show.
4. Has This Ever Happened To You? (S1, E1)
This and ‘The Interview’ are both capstones to introducing viewers to the tone of the show. What starts as an unremarkable parody of an advertisement for a class action lawsuit or commercial lawyer shifts into regaling the viewer with a story about a roguish pair of trickster repairmen who prank the hapless victim into believing the hole in their toilet had shrunk. What becomes delightfully clear is that this lawyer has had such an experience, and desperately wants to connect with another person who can empathize with him. He truly wanted to be friends with these scamps, but instead, was played for a fool, and responded the only way he knew how, running a commercial on live TV in the hopes that he is not alone.
3. Hot Dog Car Crash (S1, E5)
I love this sketch. It starts with a hot dog shaped car crashing into a nice clothing store. The cuts are fast, as each person in the store interjects to try and figure out what exactly happened, jumping from one person to another, until finally it jumps to a man in a hot dog shaped suit saying that they should just confess and that we promise we won’t be mad. Nobody is convinced the hot dog man’s attempts to social engineer his way into the group and try to claim his innocence. The writing in this scene is so straightforward and terse, and the monologue the hot dog man gives at the end is one of the funniest things in this entire show. This entire sketch is short, sweet, straight to the point while also extremely dense, with tons of hilarious unspoken subtext surrounding all the people in the store. I also really enjoy this series’ use of older actors, often making them say lines that sound so ridiculous coming out of the mouths of people their age. This scene does this so effectively with the older lady who’s orchestrating the group against the hot dog man. Top to bottom, this sketch is excellent.
2. Honk If You’re Horny (S1, E4)
In this sketch, a simple bumper sticker becomes the catalyst for a once in a lifetime encounter between two strangers fated to change each others lives. After spotting a Honk If You’re Horny bumper sticker, Conner O’Malley’s character played with the extremely frenetic energy that only Conner O’Malley can bring, starts to honk, and doesn’t stop. He follows the car around, endlessly honking, keeping the owner of the bumper sticker up into the late hours of the night. When the owner thinks he’s safe, he drives to a funeral, where the horny Conner O’Malley rolls up and starts blaring his horn one more time, leading to their truly unforgettable confrontation. This sketch is one of those ones where every single tiny aspect of it is so off kilter that the more tiny details of it that you try to absorb, the funnier it gets. It’s one of those rare sketches where the premise of it is just as funny as the execution, and it leaves a lasting impression. This sketch, much like the Gospel Records sketch also has a musical number that’s easy to find online, but again, I encourage you to avoid watching just the song to watch the entire sketch for yourself.
1. Baby Of The Year (S1, E1)
When running this list by experts, this in the #1 spot was the most contentious pick as others tried to argue that it was undeserving. I, however, stand steadfast in my belief that this is the absolute best sketch in the entire series. This sketch jam packed with hilarious jokes from top to bottom. Every tiny detail of this sketch is filled with something that will make you laugh, but you don’t have to look far to find the humor, as it’s a mile-a-minute onslaught of jokes. I understand how that can be… ahem… overwhelming to some weaker critics, but I am strong, and I am the only objective critic to rate the sketches in this series. It’s my belief that this sketch is so perfect that it only has one tiny blemish on it, one minute imperfection, in that when the audience members are yelling “Fuck You” to Bart Harley Jarvis, the bad boy of the baby of the year competition, the very first person is clearly hamming it up and doesn’t feel genuine. It screams of desperation. Compare that to the older lady right after him who, after yelling Fuck You to baby, starts doing a perfect dick sucking motion with her hand and mouth. This sketch is absolutely perfect. I hope that someday, it’ll be taught in schools as it’s own 202 course on media literacy. If I could etch this sketch into the side of a mountain, for generations upon generations to witness, I would do so without hesitation. However, my body is weak, and only my mind is able, so the best I can offer is to present it as, definitively, the #1 I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson Sketch of 2019.