January 27, 2013

Kroll Call

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On Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, there is a billboard for canine plastic surgery by Dr. Armond. I was not fazed by the existence of this service, or by the website through which Dr. Armond’s services could be contracted: PuppyLift.com. It is, after all, L.A. And then I realized that Dr. Armond was actually comedian and actor Nick Kroll and this was an advertisement, not for dog face lifts, but for Kroll’s new sketch comedy project, Kroll Show, which premiered on Comedy Central on Jan. 16.

Nick Kroll is best known for his role as Ruxin on The League, but he was also the caveman in those Geico commercials. His latest venture features a number of other familiar faces in the comedy realm, such as Chelsea Peretti, Ed Helms and Jenny Slate.

Dr. Armond, canine plastic surgeon, makes an appearance in both of the aired episodes: in the first, as part of the reality TV show spoof “pubLIZity,” which follows two publicists both named Liz, and in the second his own spin-off reality T.V. show, “Dr. Armond: Canine Plastic Surgeon.”

In addition to playing Dr. Armond and a Liz, Kroll also plays a rich dick in the sketch “Rich Dicks;” a man praising the deliciousness of a sandwich that is made by a racist company (parodying Chick-fil-A); and the only non-handicapped student of a Degrassi-esque Toronto high school in a sketch called “Wheels Ontario.” The aforementioned sketches are pretty hilarious, but some don’t live up to their potential — for example, “Sex in the City for Dudes,” is a sketch far funnier in concept than in reality.

Nick Kroll is an amazing stand-up comedian and consistently funny on The League. His style is very dry, snarky and a little bit smug (try to imagine the exact opposite of Jimmy Fallon). The things at which he raises his eyebrows judgingly are things we all judge (such as guidos and cheesy reality TV shows), so it works (unless you are a guido or on a cheesy reality show.)

Kroll Show has the ability to be fantastic, but it might take some time. Kroll is naturally hilarious and, looking at the IMDb pages for upcoming episodes, I am excited about some of the actors who will be joining him on his show (especially John Mulaney). I also hope to see more of “Wheels Ontario” and “Rich Dicks.”

That being said, Kroll Show hasn’t yet mastered its rhythm. Frustratingly, it opens with a sketch, the theme song and a single joke from the “real” Kroll before diving into more sketches. The single joke is funny, but it is not funny enough to justify its existence as its own standalone section.  It is also the only time in the show that Kroll is himself — he doesn’t do another joke at the end, which makes the one joke seem out of place. That segment should undoubtedly be expanded or cut.

Comedy Central argues that its show “satirizes our television-obsessed culture and the rabid fan base it breeds.” Yet not all the sketches are explicitly about television or the media. Absent that guiding knowledge, then, Kroll Show seems a bit theme-less. It’s possible that I just didn’t pick up on it: the opening credits do feature the words “Kroll Show” in a number of classic television logos, such as the ones for Seinfeld, Breaking Bad, Friends and The Cosby Show. However, alongside the television logos are those for Absolut Vodka, FedEx and Disneyland, so the theme does seem rather scatterbrained.

Overall Kroll Show lacks structure. Currently, the audience of Kroll Show just watches 20 minutes of Nick Kroll and is almost surprised when the show is over because there’s no familiar flow. But if the people at Comedy Central find a way to add some sort of cohesive theme to the series, it could be great. I certainly hope that, with time, Kroll Show will begin to fully showcase Kroll’s hilarity.

I would definitely keep an eye on Kroll Show. I am excited to see more of Dr. Armond and the gang and hope that the kinks of the show will get ironed out so that I will still have a hilarious Thursday show to ease the pain of losing 30 Rock.

Original Author: Julia Moser