“Mr. Show with Bob and David” premiered on HBO on Nov. 3, 1995, a month before I was born. Twenty years later, Netflix rounded up Bob Odenkirk and David Cross along with the rest of the cast, took some comedy polisher and made them shiny and ready to make people laugh again. With “W/ Bob & David,” a limited series that was released on Nov. 13, Netflix has moved the absurdist sketch comedy to the present, with a new name, a new voice and not-so-new gags.
I discovered the show recently while I was looking for something to binge watch, totally unaware of its backstory. “Mr. Show” had a small fan base when it was on the air, and it was over before I knew how to use a remote.
However, the label “Netflix Original Series” shined through the screen, grabbing my attention. I dove right in. If its comedy was a pool, I would have given myself a concussion on the bottom because it was so shallow. Guilt was attached to any laughter at the jokes of “W/ Bob & David” — the show isn’t as socially conscious as other modern sketch comedies that we’ve all come to love.
So, without further adieu, here are five thoughts I had while watching “W/ Bob & David.”
5. Portable toilets will always be funny.
In the opening sketch, Cross and Odenkirk travel in a real-time machine, not to be confused with a real time machine, which ages them 16 years. Then, by using a de-hyphenator switch, they turn their machine into a real time machine. Get it? If you don’t, I’m concerned for you. But it’s this dryly absurdist, gotcha-style humor that fuels the show.
4. Why doesn’t Turkey Jesus exist in real life yet?
One of the show’s strengths lies in its running jokes and transitions, which were also an aspect of its original run. In one sketch, a man talks about his New Year’s resolution to become the first Jewish, freelance pope. In the following sketch, a commercial for kosher products, we see the same man in a pope costume, overjoyed at a large, unappetizing turkey filet squished into the shape of Jesus.
3. Women are funny too, darn it.
The majority of women in the show are background characters, including original cast member Jill Talley. And the only women who were on the frontlines of a sketch were mothers proudly serving their sons the best they could. Thanks, Odenkirk and Cross. Somewhere, Tina Fey is tossing back and forth in the grave you just tried to bury her in. Excluding the presence of funny female characters is not only uncool, it’s downright wrong.
2. I see that you just blue yourself, Cross.
Cross is well-known to millennials for two characters: Tobias Fünke in “Arrested Development,” a sitcom that Netflix ran a fourth season of in 2013, and Ian Hawke, the antagonist in the live action remake of “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” Throughout “Arrested Development,” Tobias aspired to join the Blue Man group. To prepare for his frequent auditions, Tobias would “blue” himself, or paint himself blue. In one sketch of “W/ Bob & David,” he enters a scene with blue dye all over his hands, making a mess and staining clothes in the process. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
1. Mary Lynn Rajskub isn’t deaf.
From racism to sexism, many jokes offended me on this show, but the one I absolutely couldn’t stand for involved the use of a deaf accent for a chef sketch. I should have been excited that Rajskub, an early cast member of “Mr. Show,” was back with Cross and Odenkirk, but instead I wanted to throw my laptop across the room and punch someone where it hurts. Rajskub isn’t deaf, and shouldn’t imitate a deaf person with the purpose of playing the pathetic character in a parody sketch.
Overall, there are many parts of this show worth watching. I’m a fan of most of Cross’s work, and to see him play well with Saul Goodman from “Breaking Bad” was quite enjoyable. I wouldn’t recommend this show for anyone with a politically correct mindset, but it might be worth watching for those invested in the rise of sketch comedy. With short, topical segments and a tendency to go viral, shows like “W/ Bob & David” have risen in popularity. I look forward to watching what Odenkirk and Cross do next, but the safety of my laptop isn’t guaranteed.
Robyn Smith is a sophomore media arts and design major. Contact Robyn at email@example.com.