After all these years of Nick Kroll bringing him back again and again, I’ve still never really cottoned to his Bobby Bottleservice character. The amusement of laughing at Jersey Shore-style douchebags quickly wore out its welcome about the same time that Pauly D and The Situation did.
But like most of his characters, Kroll just can’t let go. So, for likely the last time, we had to deal with the idiocy of Bobby and his buddies. This time around, it was a uniquely idiotic concept that allowed the doofus to get shrunk down to Fantastic Voyage/InnerSpace size and inject himself into his own body. Don’t bother trying to suss out the stupidity of that idea, just do your best to deal with the chintzy CGI and eye-rollingly dumb concept of Bobby trying to exorcise his true love’s ghost from his heart.
With that taking up half the episode, the rest of it was devoted to a silly legal show called Laws of Attraction about lawyer Ruth Diamond Phillips falling in love with one of her clients, a former TSA agent who allowed a whole mess of cocaine to slip through the inspection. It was a decent enough idea, but one that fell apart even with Jenny Slate’s fine work in it. The concept was so threadbare, they devoted about three minutes to “outtakes” from the trial that had Kroll riffing with the rest of the cast to no real end.
What hope I had for this episode lay solely in the beginning with the Rich Dicks opening a restaurant called Drunch, and dealing with a temperamental celebrity chef, played by Aziz Ansari. It was a great parody of those bourgeois spots that add in plenty of unnecessary design touches (here it was a homeless teen living inside a fiberglass table) and over-the-top menu items. Too, it gave Ansari a chance to poke a little loving fun at his chef buddies like having his character express his dedication to the craft of cooking by dropping his arms into a bucket of dry ice and then shattering them on a cutting board.
As much as I didn’t enjoy much of this episode, it really solidified an understanding for Kroll Show’s intentions and its failings. Kroll and co. seem to want this show to reside alongside the work Tim & Eric does by allowing for imperfect looking animation and surrealistic touches to meld in with their reality TV parodies and commentary on celebrity culture.
The difference is that Tim & Eric come at much of their comedy from a place of empathy. They bring decidedly untalented people like Richard Dunn and David Liebe Hart under their wings because they understand that compulsion to want to let your creative voice be heard no matter if you have anything to say. They have genuine affection for them. You never get that sense with Kroll Show. They look down on most of people they portray, playing up their worst characteristics and personality traits for laughs. That can work (see: Ricky Gervais’s work as David Brent) but without a core of compassion, it just starts to feel mean and unnecessary.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.