Watching each episode of this third and final season of Kroll Show, it’s starting to become so much more clear why it was a very smart decision on Nick Kroll’s part that he pull the plug on his titular sketch show. He and his writers and performers aren’t running out of steam by any means (at least at this point) but if they tried to drag things out any further, it would turn into a SNL situation where a recurring character tries to survive long past its “Sell By” date (I’m looking at you, Mango).
While they wind things down, Kroll and his crew are staying agile and smart about how to use their now well-known characters. They continue to poke sticks at the self-important boobs of the world, like the Richdicks who open the episode by getting medically murdered for kicks (“Aspen, you’re going to love dying. It’s, like, hilarious.”) and facing their demons and angels in the afterlife. Though true to form, Aspen meets himself, and the doppelgangers end up jerking each other off, while Wendy runs into people he has wronged in his life and ends up shooting them all.
Even better is the return of the girls of Publizity who get into a kerfuffle when the Jenny Slate Liz doesn’t properly appreciate that Kroll’s Liz just got bangs. It sends Kroll’s Liz running to another reality show Gold Diggers where she saves the day for the miners she winds up working with. It’s silly as all get out but Kroll and Slate sell it with their mealy-mouthed line readings and vacant, open-mouthed gaping.
There was also some more fun with the Too Much Tuna gents, this time pranking a truck driver (played by, of all people, Henry Rollins) with their gigantic tuna sandwich. Again, on paper, this scenario looks like it would be a wreck, but there is nothing better than watching Kroll and John Mulaney spill out their lines like exhausted old men who should never have been given a TV show. In fact it was Mulaney who gave me my only laugh out loud moment of the show, when Gil and George stumble into the world of another reality show, Hunt Or Gather. Sitting in a tent after being rescued by a pair of survivalists, George leans out and asks, “As long as you’re capturing things, would you run and get me Centrum Silver?”
It’s weird to realize that I only guffawed once throughout the entire half-hour, even though I happily enjoyed every moment of the show. I still like the characters and the situations they are getting put into, but I’m comfortable with them now. They don’t surprise me like they once did. Again, I get the sense that the writers of Kroll Show are starting to feel the same way. They enjoy writing this stuff but know that better challenges lay ahead for them. As disappointing as it is to not have a showcase for Kroll’s many talents like this, I’m going to embrace every minute of this slow fade-out.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.