As Kroll Show wraps its first season (a second is well on its way, thanks to the vagaries of scheduling something like this around the shooting schedule of The League), it’s hard not to appreciate the detail that went into making it. I’ve had trouble with some of the sketch arcs, because it means the show really relies on characters like Armond who don’t have quite enough to them to merit the treatment. But with this final episode, especially in the PubLizIty storyline, there’s a real sense of the craft that went into this thing, the way jokes subtly recur throughout the whole little Kroll universe that’s been created.
“Please God” saw Kroll-Liz get engaged to Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, which means a very jealous Jenny Slate-Liz has to design their wedding and find a sponsor (it’s her success on this detail that really moves Kroll-Liz). So it’s really just a lot of the same material, broad music cues and insane whiny noises coming from Kroll and Slate’s throats. But they own these characters so well (particularly Slate, who is just delightful to watch) that it’s still fun. Armond, as I’ve mentioned, is just too flat a character to be the star of a sketch, but the two Lizzes are a much better time.
I also loved the final reveal that the wedding was a prank as part of Asomugha’s new show, “Nnamdi’d.” That’s an old joke (old enough to be spoofed twice, cause we also had Too Much Tuna this week) but it still works if you find the right angle (and Nnamdi’s name and multiplying, smiling face is the right angle).
We did see the return of Armond in a fairly forgettable but brief bit co-starring the excellent Maria Bamford (as a pug-obsessed wacko, very much part of her character oeuvre). It was also nice to see the rest of the Liz & Liz universe show up at the wedding, including Roman in military garb and Jon Daly’s Rich Dick. (“I came as a joke, I’m on shrooms.”)
The final glimpse of the needy referee didn’t quite click either—he’s a character who really killed in his first sketch (the sight of him walking backward on the basketball court was an unforgettable one) but hasn’t really worked since. I like Michaela Watkins (another fired SNL cast member!), and there were a couple of funny creepy gags about him crashing a kid’s birthday party, but I don’t know if I need to see much more of that guy off the court.
Too Much Tuna remains bulletproof; I’ve seen that sketch a thousand times now (it was one of the first previews Comedy Central put on YouTube), and it still makes me laugh every time. John Mulaney’s delivery of “does he know?” is killer; Joe Mande’s bemused disinterest plays nicely opposite Jeffrey Gurian’s appearance earlier this year; the sandwich that has too much tuna really does have a ridiculous, hilarious amount of tuna in it. If anything, I wish they had filmed more of these. I would happily watch two minutes of Too Much Tuna in every single episode, and I don’t think I’d ever get sick of it.
One thing that was really fun to see was Kroll messing with his format a little bit and inviting Jenny Slate in to talk to the camera out of character for a bit. He’s done it with other actors too, but this segment was a bit longer and devastatingly funny—Slate does a bit about tampon commercials focused on no-nonsense women in sports bras. “Look, I don’t have time to fuck around. When I get my period, I’m not going to sit on some diaper. I need to get on my surfboard and not take any flak from, you know, my period. That’s why I use… bullets. From guns.”
Kroll’s just obviously a comic who’s happy to share the spotlight and develop a living, breathing ensemble for this show, perhaps unsurprising, since he developed as a character guy and only started focusing on stand-up later on. This first season hasn’t been consistently brilliant, but what sketch show is? The improvement and world building shown off here can only give me hope for the second season.
- God wants watermelon Jolly Ranchers and Starbursts from Kroll. “Gotta little sweet tooth, huh?” Thunder. “ALSO SKITTLES.”
- Loved Bobby B’s wedding planner thing. “By the power of this vest on me, shots.”
- Gil and George give advice on abortions. “Doctor Wong. He’s a back alley guy. The buzzer says Party Planners USA, but it’s a front.” “He’s pretty thorough!” “He’s pretty thorough.”
- Armond’s new show is “based on an original concept by C-Czar.”
- “You’re so smart.” “Well, I started at Binghamton, but I finished at Syracuse.”
- Roman would take Too Much Tuna over Nnamdi’d.