The absurdist characters and humour in “I Think You Should Leave” find creative methods to make you chuckle. Whether it’s through a drunken Santa Claus screaming expletives or a disastrous alumni dinner caused by a former professor who openly eats someone else’s burger out of envy. A lot of this may be attributed to the characters in Tim Robinson’s outrageous sketches: individuals who find themselves in unpleasant social situations and respond by either strengthening their resistance to reason and logic or irrationally raging. The humour of “I Think You Should Leave” depends on the sensations of secondhand shame, the squirm, and the shock that frequently follows.
The surrealist humour of the play is led by Robinson in what seems to be a spirit of flipping the script. But the script, which he co-writes with fellow former “Saturday Night Live” writer and co-creator Zach Kanin, is one area where he takes more care. Because of this, none of the show’s blustering speeches or exchanges are improvised. Even the show’s growing list of guest performers, which has featured actors like Steven Yeun, Will Forte, and Tim Heidecker, must abide by the restriction. However, Bob Odenkirk, who began riffing off the script while filming his season two sequence, was exempt from such restrictions.
Odenkirk has triples of the Barracuda
This particular scene starts off innocently enough: A father (Tim Robinson) convinces a lonely, slightly shady stranger (Bob Odenkirk) to tell his daughter a white lie about ice cream makers. But the absurdity becomes startlingly real when the stranger begins to picture for himself a fantasy existence as a wealthy car collector. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Robinson was all praise for Odenkirk’s performance and even disclosed that the actor once left the script behind:
“Bob did improvise a bunch at the end of that sketch, it was all really funny, and I feel like it elevated the sketch off of what was on the page a lot.”
The frantic fabrication of new lies about his made-up existence by Odenkirk’s character is greatly aided by his desire to improvise. But it’s also difficult to determine when he starts deviating from the plan. Maybe it’s while he’s amusingly debating which of his automobiles are doubles or triples that he casually remarks, “If I don’t have triples, that other stuff’s not true.” Or is it his persistent insistence that Robinson tell his daughter the lies? Particularly during his tirade over his stunning but ailing model wife: “Despite being ill, she continues to fight. Inform her.”
Odenkirk was a sketch comedy pioneer in his own right long before he was Saul Goodman. He co-created “Mr. Show with Bob and David” with David Cross, and the show’s quirky, wacky comedy unsurprisingly served as Robinson’s inspiration for “I Think You Should Leave.” Maybe it was because of that respect that he was allowed so much room for humour in his skit. It’s obvious that you get comedic gold when you let Odenkirk be Odenkirk.