Don’t sleep on Canada, you guys. It’s often frustrating that the massive British comedy invasion of the early 2000s has eclipsed the fantastic output from CBC and other fantastic sources of Canadian sitcoms and sketch comedy. Once a generation you get your SCTV, Slings and Arrows or Trailer Park Boys, but for each one of those there are five instances of me ranting about The Newsroom to someone at a party who has no idea what I’m talking about and who desperately wants to get away from me.
In a fair and just world, Baroness von Sketch Show, which recently began airing a third season on IFC in addition to CBC, would bridge the gap, too.
Created by and starring Carolyn Taylor, Meredith MacNeill, Aurora Browne and Jennifer Whalen, Baroness von Sketch Show refreshingly abandons the kind of framing narrative many sketch shows feel they need to adhere to in order to justify the format. They know that the show holds together when the sketches are good, and they are. They’re particularly good in short, productive bursts, when the group draws on their collective chemistry in moments of lightly passive aggressive friend chatter—as when a bank robber and a SWAT officer realize they know each other and try to catch up while remaining professional.
Occasionally, in the season premiere, a premise will get stretched a little long, but even then, the performers are so exciting to watch that you don’t care. One such sketch actually makes a bit about how a cop played by Meredith MacNeill gets away with “going rogue” by absurdly leaning on her sex appeal. MacNeill is a powerhouse who, when trying to hold off giving birth because of how nice everyone is to pregnant women, is so chock full of good choices you wish the sketch would go on a little longer just to watch her go off even more.
It’s these moments, when Baroness von Sketch Show leans away from clearer premise-based sketches, that it really begins to get going. The final sketch of the episode sees a woman transforming from a pushover named “Jennifer” to a force of nature named “Denver” after her name is misheard by a barista. That’s the kind of stuff we’re talking about, and that’s the kind of stuff that’ll hopefully break Baroness von Sketch Show into the American sketch mainstream soon.
Graham Techler is a New York-based writer and comedian. You’d be doing him a real solid by following him on Twitter @grahamtechler or on Instagram @obvious_new_yorker. A real solid.