I Think You Should Leave couldn’t have a more perfect title, conjuring as it does that climax of an uncomfortable situation—the moment when things might cool off, or they could just as easily get much, much worse. The six-episode Netflix series embraces that title most wholeheartedly in sketches starring series creator Tim Robinson, whose characters almost always refuse to defuse tense situations. There’s a lot of shouting when the hilariously nervous and simmering Robinson shows up, but it’s not the easy kind, where volume stands in for jokes. Leave has plenty of both yelling and jokes, concocting comedy both broad and nuanced, often in the same breath.
Robinson should be a familiar face—though not necessarily a name—to sketch fans; he spent a couple of underutilized years at Saturday Night Live, and he co-created and co-starred in the underseen, underloved Detroiters alongside Veep’s Sam Richardson, who also shows up here. Robinson’s vision for I Think You Should Leave—co-created with Zach Kanin, another SNL and Detroiters alum—is equal parts traditional sketch and gleeful absurdism, like the edgier moments of SNL squeezed into an Adult Swim-sized box. At around 15 minutes each, I Think You Should Leave’s episodes are even Adult Swim-sized; you could binge the whole season in the time it takes to watch a movie, though it’d probably be better parceled out over a few days so that the heightened weirdness doesn’t start feeling too normal.
Not that a sketch about a feces-infected gift receipt—or is it?—could ever quite feel “normal.” That’s just one of many in which Robinson brilliantly takes a character to the edge and then throws him right over, aided in many cases by unknown actors who sell the absurdity with their straight faces and unexpected reactions. The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun is the victim in that particular scenario, one of several recognizable faces who show up to play in this immensely gratifying little sandbox.
Tim Heidecker—whose Awesome Show is an unmissable, undeniable influence here—plays an irritating party guest. Will Forte—an Awesome Show universe player himself—is a nightmare seatmate on a long flight. Cecily Strong, in one of the show’s best sketches, is a disappointed wife who drives Robinson toward one of many embarrassingly overblown reactions. Perhaps best of all is Vanessa Bayer, whose contribution—a sketch about a woman clueless to the subtleties of social media self-deprecation—may be the best intro to I Think You Should Leave. It’s just to the left of an SNL sketch, exactly the kind that would be shared on Sunday and Monday by comedy fans who’ve largely given up on the show itself. Bayer, playing delightfully naive and profane, is a perfect fit with the show’s—and Robinson’s—sensibility. The only problem here is that it’s all over too quickly.