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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kroll Show: “Mercury Poisoning”

Illustration for article titled iKroll Show/i: “Mercury Poisoning”
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Now, I know Nick Kroll is from Westchester, New York. But clearly about half of the writing staff hails from Pennsylvania, because that’s the only way such a groundswell could have formed for the sketch “Pawnsylvania,” a Philadelphia vs. Pittsburgh epic filled with so many references to the two cities and their rivalry that, I assume, no one outside of the state was really supposed to get. But much like the spot-on Canada spoofing of the “Wheels, Ontario” universe, the humor comes from just how inside the jokes are and the attention to little things (like crocheted Steelers iconography, or the mustard on Darren Daulton) this show does so well.

“Pawnsylvania” also functions as a spoof of the “blue collar” reality show, something Kroll Show hasn’t spent much time mocking but is a really major part of the whole reality universe (does Bar Rescue count as part of that? I love Bar Rescue). Kroll and Daly play two ordinary guys, one from Philly, the other Pittsburgh, who swap running their pawn shops for a week. One gets held up by two gunmen, the other tries to sleep with his “new wife,” it’s really pretty much along the lines you might imagine. And then there’s a bunch of jokes about those two cities and their differences. I guess they talk different? I definitely got most of the sports references. Otherwise I was lost, but like I said, I appreciated the attention to detail.


The rest of the episode was even funnier. C Czar had only a brief moment with Dad Academy, essentially introducing us to Armond for the week. We then segued into Armond getting a new lawyer, a public defender played by (and named) Ron Funches, who’s one of the best stand-up comedians around. Funches brings his soft, avuncular style to the role, offering his clients pecan sandies and warning them they may end up in jail in the same sentence. Ron Funches is funny, and his amusement at the typically passive Armond (“You look like a highlighter!” “And you look like a hairy chocolate gummy bear”) was pretty infectious.

The best stuff, obviously (for anyone who’s been reading these reviews since season one) was the Oh, Hello material. First there’s a particularly surreal Too Much Tuna in which the friends try to prank each other at the same time (it ends in George screaming “You’re born a schmuck and you’ll die a schmuck. Welcome to hell, idiot!” at his intern).

Then there’s a visit to a doctor played by Megan Neuringer, another funny standup who writes for the show. Any exploration of the horror show that is the bodies of the Oh, Hello Boys (apparently Gil’s skin peels off like wallpaper) is pretty much guaranteed a laugh. But John Mulaney steals the show, as he usually does, describing Gil’s usual physician Dr. Wong. “He was the primary suspect in a botched C-section.” He’s known to wave a gun around, screaming, “race riot this, race riot that.” It’s amazing how much Kroll lets his co-stars—particularly Daly, Mulaney and Andy Milonakis—steal the spotlight from him in sketches. Gil and his Rich Dick, in particular, are the second bananas of those two shows-within-shows. It’s a testament to what he’s doing building up this show’s ensemble even though it’s titled with his name.

Stray observations:

  • Oh yeah, the Rich Dicks had to fly coach. Pretty funny! “We invited Axl Rose and Tyrese onto our plane and they caused some dermage.”
  • Wolfie really editorialized about Armond this week. “Change the channel!”
  • Sometimes Gil has to be shaved. “I gotta do it in the bathtub, so I can watch the hairs float.”
  • Gil has mercury poisoning. “And that’s what Freddy Mercury died of?”
  • “There’s nothing tuna about joking around.”

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