Tim Robinson has his fingers on the pulse of humanity. As bizarre as some of his I Think You Should Leave sketches may be, they’re all based in mundanity, the universal anxieties, fears, and desires everyone experiences. In the very first sketch from Season 1, Robinson, in character, pulls a door that’s clearly meant to be pushed, and instead of simply admitting his mistake he pulls until the door goes off its hinges. Who among us wouldn’t do the same — once, at least — to try to save face? We think it, Robinson says (and does) it.
The structure of each sketch is pretty much the same: An idea is introduced, then that idea is escalated, then it’s escalated even more, then it ends on the most heightened note possible — it’s the equivalent of a timer on a bomb that beeps faster and faster until it eventually explodes. So, when someone on the internet wants to express the most extreme version of any emotion, they search for the most appropriate I Think You Should Leave screenshot.
But even though nearly every line and scene of the sketch show has posting potential, not all have found the same virality over the past few years. Two of the biggest breakthroughs are from Season 1’s “Hot Dog Car” and Season 2’s “Prank Show,” and they each provide a blueprint for what makes an I Think You Should Leave sketch so memeable.
First, there’s the instant visual payoff — if Robinson or one of his costars is wearing a silly costume in a scene, that’s heading straight to social media. At this point, Robinson in a hot dog costume is the go-to image for anyone calling out hypocritical behavior, recognizable even without its now well-known caption, “We’re all trying to find the guy who did this.” The same goes for Robinson’s sad, undercover get-up from “Prank Show,” now the poster child for extreme depression.
Then, there’s the normality of the line from the sketch itself. Robinson and company deliver some pretty bonkers and nonsense lines throughout the series — look no further than “Ghost Tour” for an example of a sketch that relies on a string of the most ridiculous sentences ever for laughs. But “Hot Dog Car” and “Prank Show” delivered lines that are not so out of the ordinary that they can’t be applied to multiple situations, but specific enough that when the occasion for the meme presents itself, it’s obvious. For example, “I don’t want to be around anymore,” conveys existential despair. But in this day and age, almost anything can incite that emotion, whereas a line from “Ghost Tour,” like “Any of these f*ckers ever fall out of the ceiling and have just a big messy sh*t?” is less likely to apply to more than one scenario.
The formula ends up being pretty simple: funny outfit plus ordinary sentence equals endlessly memeable. With that in mind, these are the three moments from Season 3 sketches we predict will take over Twitter timelines next.
Anthony (Robinson) asks his coworkers to call him if they’ve ever had too many and don’t want to risk getting behind the wheel. What one coworker discovers upon taking him up on the offer is that he moonlights as the Driving Crooner, with fedora and cigar decals on the driver-side window that, at the right angle and with Anthony’s miming, make it look like he’s wearing the hat and puffing on the stogie. But we soon learn that not everyone is as enamored by the idea — in fact a lot of people really, really hate it, enough to threaten him with death. The Driving Crooner admits he doesn’t know why the decals inspire so much hate.
There’s so much to dislike on the internet these days, warranted or not, and this could soon be the go-to image to post when questioning why.
Jellybean (Robinson) is just an actor who likes old-timey things, and he performs without speaking in a 1920s-inspired costume every night. But if he does talk during a performance, he must pay the audience. What starts as a fun gimmick leads to sold-out shows, but only because everyone sees Jellybean’s offer as a challenge to get him to break. The harried actor — now hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in the hole — makes a desperate plea to the frats and bachelor parties that keep trying to get him to break his silence on stage: “Leave me alone!”
This just might be the most evergreen statement to ever come out of an I Think You Should Leave. Frequent victims of internet trolls should get this one on deck ASAP.
While gearing up for a first date, Peter (Robinson) decides to get a fresh new haircut, but when his barber assumes that a photo of a springer spaniel is his inspiration, not the photo of Bryan Cranston on the opposite magazine page, the meme practically makes itself. The hair is silly. The words are relatable. The possibilities for applying this to a real-life scenario are endless.
I Think You Should Leave Seasons 1 through 3 are now streaming on Netflix.
Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R.