SO ASSUMING you’re not all busy watching Jessica Jones or The Man In The High Castle, here comes part five, the short and sweet final part of the latest in our series of streaming recommendations and the second part of our Bob Odenkirk miniseries as we approach With Bob and David.
You probably didn’t watch Mr. Show With Bob and David when it was originally on, I know I didn’t, I was three when it started. But I’ve watched it since, maybe some bits around the edges have aged ever so slightly in the twenty years since it began but it still remains a wonderfully absurdist joy, the closest that America, and possibly culture in general, has come to replicating the sheer iconoclastic brilliance of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. You can see its influence everywhere: David Cross became a highlight of Arrested Development, Bob Odenkirk in Breaking Bad/Better Caul Saul, Jay Johnston was a regular on The Sarah Silverman Program, Paul F Tompkins is finally getting the recognition he deserves as Mr. Peanutbutter on Bojack Horseman and frankly if you listen to podcasts and you haven’t heard of Scott Aukerman, he has his hand in most of the best comedy/improv around at the moment. And that’s before I even mention 24‘s Mary Lynn Raskjub, Spongebob Squarepants himself – Tom Kenny, Jack Black and Community‘s own Starburn, Dino Stamatopoulos. But that’s not all, I could keep listing people who played a hand in this show that have shaped the American alt.comedy scene over the past twenty years but you probably want to read about the show I’m reviewing and not a different one from the nineties, right?
With Bob and David is a lovably sincere attempt to not so much re-capture the magic of past glories but to look back at what they’ve done and how things have changed(appearances by The Birthday Boys and Keegan Michael Key of And Peele fame nicely cement their position as elder statesmen of sketch comedy), all the while just continuing to do what they do best; being really goddamn funny. There are only four episodes and an hour long documentary in the series but there didn’t need to be anything more. It’s also remarkable considering the loose, free-flowing nature of the four episodes, how tight, joke-packed and near filler-free they are. I can’t recall a single sketch that didn’t have at least a handful of good punchlines in it. Despite an opening scene in which there are many jokes about how much older everyone is, no-one here is a slouch with everyone adding to the comedic energy especially Jay Johnston who manages to make even his minor appearances in scenes the focus of them through sheer force-of-will. There’s a feeling at times that perhaps the show is a bit too comfortable and that no-one’s really trying too hard but that just adds to the charm and at least the punchlines don’t feel overly forced or laboured.
It’s at this I have to acknowledge, I struggle with reviewing pure comedy. Funny is funny, that’s about it but even then, what’s funny to me isn’t funny to everyone and especially trying to review a sketch show can just read as a list of what sketches did and didn’t work for me which frankly isn’t really worth your time. So what I’m going to do is just leave links here to a couple of choice sketches from new and old-era Bob and David and if you like them, why not watch the rest of the show, if you don’t at least I’m not wasting your time. The simple fact is this show isn’t going to revolutionise sketch comedy again like it debatably did back in the 90s but it’s a bunch of funny people being silly and yes, funny. If you think it’s up your alley, well, yeah, that’s good.