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Character Assassin


Nick Kroll gets his own showcase that works best when he shares the screen


By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief


Best known for playing Rodney Ruxin on FX’s “The League,” Nick Kroll returns to Comedy Central on Jan. 16 with the debut of “Kroll Show,” a series following on the heels of his special for the channel in fall 2011 (see review, 9/17/11).


The first two episodes of “Kroll Show” have similar strengths and weaknesses to the material in that special, which was stand-up comedy with character piece breaks in between segments. Kroll does transform himself into different characters, like “Bobby Bottleservice” and “El Chupacabra” [in the special], but not all of them are always amusing hits.


In “Kroll Show” the most successful bits are the ones more grounded in reality. Yes, Kroll does play a character in “Rich Dicks,” a piece with multiple parts throughout the second episode, but it’s more grounded in reality because of a cast of antagonists – Mexican drug dealers – and a compelling co-starring performance by Kroll’s UCB colleague Jon Daly as an especially noxious preppy. All of this gives Kroll more to play off.


The same is true for “Sex in the City For Dudes,” an ensemble piece, again cut up into bits that appear throughout the first episode, and featuring several UCB players, including Owen Burke, Jason Mantzoukas, Brian Huskey, Seth Morris, Daly and the best-known of them, Ed Helms, engaging in banter on a basketball court and at a sports bar.


Kroll also plays half of a duo with Jenny Slate, as public relations mavens “Liz & Liz” in a reality show parody titled “Publizity.” As in the piece with Daly, Kroll’s characterizations work best when they have an equally inspired co-star to play off. In the second episode of “Kroll Show,” Bobby Bottleservice appears in an online chat skit with Chelsea Peretti as “Farley,” where Peretti, who is talented doesn’t get to stretch enough out of a caricature of a wannabe pop starlet.


So far, “Kroll Show” just isn’t strong and consistent enough to maintain a following. Kroll is much better and funnier when playing characters in a more real setting, that aren’t dependent on costumes or weird accents or voices, as he does on “The League.”














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