The Comedy Corner: Kroll Show

Today’s topic is a show that many people (myself included) consider to be the most underrated sketch show on TV today – Comedy Central’s Kroll Show. Odds are, you probably haven’t heard much about Kroll Show, unless you’ve happened to catch an episode or two in between South Park and Tosh.0 re-runs. And I can’t blame you, because it took me a while to properly discover it myself. While Kroll Show has been a fixture of Comedy Central’s original programming since January of last year, I myself only recently discovered it, thanks to some recommendations from friends and a bored afternoon on Hulu. And let me tell you, I’ve been hooked ever since. While Kroll Show might look like just an odd hodge-podge of absurdity, it is quickly becoming one of the smartest and most consistent sketch shows on TV. And, with the recent announcement of Comedy Central’s renewal of Kroll Show’s for a (well-deserved) third season, you’d be crazy not to want to check it out.

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So much of Kroll Show’s success is due to the genius of its creator, executive producer, namesake, and star: Nick Kroll. Kroll – who you probably recognize from his role as Rodney Ruxin on the superb ensemble comedy The League, as well as his occasional appearances in everything from Parks and Recreation and Community to movies like Get Him To The Greek and I Love You, Man – has been an integral part of the comedy community for years. This is, in part, because of his insane catalog of characters, which he has been showcasing in multiple forums, including years of stand-up routines, Funny or Die videos, and podcasts like Comedy Bang! Bang!. Kroll Show, however, proves to be the perfect forum for these bizarre, yet surprisingly entertaining characters. Almost every sketch on Kroll Show contains a character played by Kroll, and every new episode further establishes him as one of the most versatile character actors in comedy today. Whether he is dressed in drag and sipping smoothies as the obnoxious publicist Liz, or DJ-ing/amateur ghost hunting as the ridiculous Jersey Shore-reject Bobby Bottleservice, Kroll proves that he has absolutely no desire to take himself too seriously, and that he can be equally as entertaining in almost any setting.

While many of Kroll’s characters sound more like absurd caricatures as opposed to people you’d be willing to follow week after week, Kroll Show provides the perfect environment to help entertain even the wariest of casual viewers. Many of the sketches on Kroll Show are framed as reality show parodies, mocking everything from The Bachelor and Bad Girls Club to Shark Tank and Pawn Stars. By placing Kroll’s insane characters in these culturally familiar settings, the show provides a middle ground that is sure to get a first-time viewer hooked. In doing so, Kroll Show cleverly utilizes the very tactic that draws us to reality shows in the first place: the mentality of “it’s so ridiculous, but I can’t look away.”

And while the majority of Kroll’s characters are not particularly likeable, they sure are funny. This is because of, in part, the show’s brilliant writing team, many of whom have previously contributed to shows like Arrested Development and Portlandia. This particularly becomes clear when looking at the seasons as a whole, as the show is packed with subtle references and inside jokes, the vast majority of which satisfyingly develop throughout the seasons. And even when taking into account individual episodes, it becomes obvious that the show’s creative team knows how to craft genuinely hilarious jokes, which only grow in abundance as the show progresses. Whether parodying current pop culture (I dare you to find a more solid Justin Bieber parody than in the show’s Degrassi-inspired sketch ‘Wheels, Ontario’) or just building off of insane original characters (fan-favorite sketch ‘Oh, Hello’, which stars Kroll and his long-time writing partner John Mulaney as two elderly divorcees with a love of tuna fish, has quickly grown into its own delightfully entertaining saga), Kroll Show has become one of the most consistently entertaining sketch shows on TV today.

Although much of the show’s excellence can be contributed to Kroll, it would be absolutely despicable to not acknowledge many of the show’s recurring actors, all of whom are Kroll’s good friends. While the number of amazing castmates grows with each new episode, some of the standouts include Jon Daly, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Seth Morris, and Chelsea Peretti, all of whom have lent their talents to multiple sketches over the past two seasons. And the show’s wide variety of guest stars – including Zach Galifianakis, Laura Dern, Brie Larson, Maria Bamford, and Fred Armisen – have helped turn Kroll Show into a sort of delightful sketch-comedy playground. Even Kroll’s real-life girlfriend, comedy queen Amy Poehler, has appeared in the show’s second season, in a role that can best be described as the “anti-Leslie Knope.” This just shows that Kroll Show is quickly becoming one of the prime places to see comedians in their strangest – and often funniest – roles.

With its surplus of guest stars, incredible writing team, and absolutely wonderful star, Kroll Show has cemented itself as one of the strongest sketch shows on TV today. While it may not have the exposure of shows like Portlandia and Key and Peele, it has accomplished quite a lot in its first two seasons, and I personally can’t wait to see more of it in the future. So if you’re looking for an absurd, yet wholeheartedly enjoyable sketch show, then you should definitely check out Kroll Show. New episodes air Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30 CT on Comedy Central, and all previous episodes can be found at Hulu.com or CC.com.

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