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Be Yourself

UCB compatriot Nick Kroll does better with stand-up than characters in DVD special


By Michael Shashoua / Jester editor-in-chief


Comedic actor and stand-up Nick Kroll pops up in small roles and collaborates in projects featuring Upright Citizens Brigade alumni, most notably the FX series “The League” and the Adult Swim series “Childrens Hospital” starring Rob Corddry. Kroll recently released his first stand-up special on DVD, “Thank You Very Cool,” and this look at his own solo performing work reveals that he’s better served by a collaborative environment.


Kroll has the ability to disappear into comic characters, and his stand-up material in this special in interspersed with skits featuring those characters. In short, his stand-up is a lot stronger than the character material seen here. Kroll is effective as an actor on other shows, especially Childrens Hospital where he played a child aging rapidly into an old man but still retaining the same mental age, but one wonders how much of this invention came from the show’s writers making use of Kroll’s strengths and tone as a performer.


Kroll’s characters, including Bobby Bottleservice – a club lizard; El Chupacabra, a Mexican radio DJ; and Gil Faizon – an ultra-liberal 50-something New Yorker, tend to be one-note and even a bit grating. When left to his own devices, and without other players to bounce off, Kroll’s character segments tend to fall a little flat.


As mentioned before, though, Kroll does have some inventive stand-up, namely bits on trying to explain Michael Jackson to his kids, packing for a flight while drunk, airport shopping, and of course, sex. It’s not stand-up that innovates or stretches the boundaries of the format, but Kroll does entertain with universal material and a knack for finding absurdities. As seen in this special, Kroll definitely has promise but could stand to develop both his sketch and stand-up to greater heights.





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