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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Odenkirk and Cross return to their ‘Mr Show’ sketch comedy roots ‘W/ Bob and David’ on Netflix


    Bob Odenkirk and David Cross are the comedic duo of “W/ Bob and David.” Though they’ve become popular on shows like “Arrested Development” and “Breaking Bad,” the two got their start on the 1990s HBO show “Mr. Show with Bob and David.”

    It’s never too late to make a comeback. The rise of the Internet enables the possibility of a Frankenstein-esque resurrection for anything and everything. Netflix brought back “Arrested Development” in 2013, seven years post-cancellation, and this summer rebooted the 2001 cult hit film “Wet Hot American Summer” into a TV series. 

    “W/ Bob and David” marks the spiritual resurrection of the sketch show “Mr. Show with Bob and David,” which first aired 20 years ago.

    “Mr. Show with Bob and David” is a cult classic sketch comedy show from actor/comedian duo Bob Odenkirk and David Cross. Although the two are best known for their portrayal of iconic TV characters — Odenkirk as Saul Goodman of “Breaking Bad” and Cross as the endearingly inept Tobias Fünke in “Arrested Development” — they cut their teeth as cult heroes of the alternative comedy scene with “Mr. Show.” 

    “W/ Bob and David” successfully adapts the spirit of “Mr. Show” to 2015.

    Sketch comedy leaves little room for error. This specific type of comedy requires hilarious antics that must be set up, performed and then shut down in five minutes or less. A tall order indeed, but one with which Odenkirk and Cross are familiar. At this point the duo have an unofficial Ph.D. in sketch comedy, and “W/ Bob and David” is proof. Each episode gains steam as it goes on. The initial gag, involving a time machine and poking fun at the return of the show, sets the bar low enough that every passing sketch ups the ante.

    The improving quality comes largely as a result of the interconnected nature of each episode. “W/ Bob and David” is an eco-friendly show in that each premise or joke is reused once, twice or even three times. Callbacks to jokes occurring earlier in episodes are commonplace and speak to the writing prowess behind “W/ Bob and David.” 

    The first episode begins with a sketch of a man unable to give up red meat even in the face of potential death and the episode concludes with a return to the character dying as he eats a ham. Without context the sketch sounds rather stupid, but “W/ Bob and David” manages to find the comedy in it.

    Despite not airing for nearly 20 years, the show has not lost its edge. As is often the case with comedy, nothing is held sacred, doubly so with “W/ Bob and David.” 

    The show adds a subversive spin to a number of current news topics, including police brutality and Islamic extremists. 

    Odenkirk and Cross poke fun at finding “the line.” They argue over how close they can come to depicting the Prophet Muhammad without receiving death threats from extremists and settle on the nonsensical “a prophure of the picmed of Mohaphet,” and even this gibberish blurb will bring death if the phrase is uttered three times.

    This fearlessness, combined with a seek-and-destroy attitude of subversiveness, is what sets “W/ Bob and David” apart. 

    My favorite sketch of the first season finds a little boy on a morning talk show recounting his experience of briefly dying and going to heaven. We’ve all seen this before in real life — the sappy stories that appeal to the lowest common denominator. 

    However, “W/ Bob and David” subverts this when the little boy lists off the people he met in heaven, including his grandpa, Babe Ruth and Hitler. It turns out everyone goes to heaven and in response the audience hurls objects at little Cory while telling him he went to hell.

    “W/ Bob and David” may not be a show for everyone’s tastes, but Odenkirk and Cross likely don’t give a damn one way or the other. It’s such an attitude that powers “W/ Bob and David,” and proves that even after all these years, the spirit of “Mr. Show” lives on.

    Worth the Watch: Yes

    Follow Alex Furrier on Twitter.

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