HomeEntertainment NewsWas Tim Robinson Too Weird for 'SNL'?

Was Tim Robinson Too Weird for ‘SNL’?

It feels like Tim Robinson sprung to fame overnight with his sketch series I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson. The program showcases Robinson’s unique brand of humor, which is a reinvigorating fragrance of a rarely touched style of comedy. Absurd humor has been around for some time with some of the more mainstream influences being Tim and Eric: Awesome Show, Great Job! and comedians-turned-actors like Zach Galifianakis. As popular as they are, it’s not often given an outlet aside from network blocks like Adult Swim or studios like Funny or Die. Even then, it’s just as rare that the shows that clear the networks actually lean into the more pure end of absurdism. It’s equally refreshing when a new generation of creators within the genre receives the green light in the present day, which brings us to Tim Robinson. While the Second City alum’s fame is still relatively new, it didn’t take long for him to connect with fans and make his mark on the industry following his debut on Saturday Night Live.


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How Long Was Tim Robinson on ‘Saturday Night Live’?

Image via NBC on Twitter

When Robinson signed onto Saturday Night Live during Season 38 in 2012, it was a 4-year contract with him starting as a featured player, as is the standard process when new cast members join the show. His first and only onscreen season was alongside Fred Armisen, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong (both of whom were also “featured” cast members at the time), and Bill Hader.

During his short onscreen tenure, his parts had their share of hilarity, but were mainly bit characters that didn’t take off. Instead of parting with him right away due to this, Lorne Michaels and the powers that be merely moved him to a behind-the-scenes spot in the writers’ room for the rest of his contract. It’s easy to see that this decision was made in recognition of his aptitude for the weird and off-kilter ends of comedy and understanding its place within the genre. While it may have appeared less-than-ideal at first, it’s likely that this also helped him better understand how to make what he wanted to pitch work for television as he gained more experience writing for Saturday Night Live.

‘Detroiters’ Paved the Way for ‘I Think You Should Leave’

Image via Comedy Central

During his time with SNL, Robinson made the rounds on various other shows in line with his sense of humor like Comedy Bang! Bang! and Documentary Now!. Upon leaving the primetime variety show in 2016, he went on to co-create Detroiters for Comedy Central along with fellow Second City Chicago alumni Sam Richardson. His time at SNL may have been over, but his connections through SNL allowed him to bring along staff writers and fellow former cast members like Zach Kanin, who assisted with the show’s scripts, and Jason Sudeikis, who occasionally appeared on the sitcom and was one of its executive producers. Detroiters lasted for 2 seasons and has a loyal fanbase. In comparison to Robinson’s Netflix brainchild, the Comedy Central show clearly holds its own and can be thought of as the goofy predecessor of I Think You Should Leave.

‘I Think You Should Leave’ Is Where He Belongs

Image via Netflix

SNL has had plenty of “unusual” performances over its many decades as well as cast members, such as Hader and Will Ferrell, who have found a place in the weird and fun corners of Hollywood. However, given SNL‘s record, it isn’t surprising that many of Robinson’s sketches didn’t stick. Sure, there are sketches such as their “Roundball Rock” (which stars Sudeikis and Robinson as John and Dave Tesh respectively) that bear a strong similarity to I Think You Should Leave‘s Johnny Cash sketch and clearly paved the way for it, but the show’s always leaned more into a formulaic nature. This can be best seen in segments such as “The Californians,” a recurring sketch that Robinson was briefly part of, and the fan-favorite “Diner Lobstermusical that’s inspired by Les Misérables. While both delve into zany territory, they still follow a story format that makes sense…even if it’s a musical performed to save a diner lobster. One could refer to the show’s hilarious Please Don’t Destroy segments for their unconventional ideas and takes, but even they only graze the edge of “bizarre” in all of their most random moments.

Robinson, himself, has also confirmed that many of the sketches that appear on his Netflix show were originally meant for SNL. While the specifics of which were rejected aren’t given, it’s been hinted that the list may have included the popular Season 1 airplane baby sketch in which a fellow former SNL cast member, Will Forte, plays a character who was tormented by a crying baby while flying 30 years prior. That same character tracks the child down, now as an adult, to stake his comedic, wailing, retribution. Even if Robinson’s ideas were in fact too strange for SNL, the actor’s found talents have been recognized elsewhere. This can be highlighted by his Emmy nominations for Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series in 2016, Outstanding Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series in 2022, and the glow of his award for Outstanding Actor In A Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series.

Netflix’s I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and that’s okay. The show’s cringe, surreal comedy that harkens to the spirit of previous shows like Mr. Show with Bob and David isn’t for everyone, and maybe Tim Robinson’s tenure at SNL showed that. However, it’s clear that since then, he’s flourished into his own brand of comedy, and it happened during a time when absurdist humor is seldom found in the mainstream frontier. The Netflix series certainly isn’t alone in its absurdity, as we have The Eric Andre Show and fellow newcomers, Aunty Donna, but the list of similar shows is less than a handful at best. The success of the Robinson-fronted sketch show, which is heading into Season 3, allows the sub-genres of absurdist, cringe comedy to be recognized and validated on a larger scale, especially as the show also features many well-known guest stars from SNL. Let’s hope Robinson helps open the door for more wonderful weirdos to come through (even if it’s backward and in full denial of the door’s operation) while adamantly locking eyes with its critics.



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