Before Ms. Peterson got her first Buzzfeed byline - a "profile," of Jules Kroll's rapacious and attention starved son, Nick
Before she wrote that for Buzzfeed, she was a writer for the uh LA Review of Books(LARB has been given substantial funding by big DONORS, Jules and Lynn Kroll FYI.)
Well, you know those review of Books high brow affairs... They don't like to be seen as stodgy so they uh take time and bandwidth to uh review uh uh low brow TV shows approved/funded by Nick Kroll.
( Broad City and Kroll Show this time around. Soon they'll find away to sneak in cancer scamming false accusing psychopath, and Nick Kroll's biggest and foulest beneficiary- MS. Tig Notaro.)
Before Ms. Anne Helen Peterson got to write in Buzzfeed-that Kroll Show was pulled by Nick Kroll himself- at it's "Commercial and Creative Peak,:"
(Note: Kroll Show was always at a Commercial and Creative Nadir .http://henypire.blogspot.com/2014/03/kroll-show-ratings-issues-have-arisen.html. Also check Metacritic. And check Zap 2 it to see how damned Nadir the third season got!
( You will not see any reference to his show in any of these type pieces because he did not make the top 100 - http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2015/03/11/tuesday-cable-ratings-the-haves-and-the-have-nots-pretty-little-liars-the-real-housewives-of-beverly-hills-top-night/373656/)
she wrote this:
On to Anne Helen Peterson's Masterpiece of deranged donor commissioned dung(or genuine fandom- you be the judge.)
Kroll Show: Blowing the Bully Out of the WaterBy Anne Helen Petersen
January 28, 2014
January 28, 2014
Dear Television,IN AN INTERVIEW with NPR earlier this year, Nick Kroll articulated what he loved about his sketch comedy show, Kroll Show, now in its second season on Comedy Central. “Being able to play a bunch of different characters has given me a break from just playing this one character,” he explained, “and I’m very lucky that I get to do that.”
Kroll is talking about playing a character onscreen, but he could also be talking about his life — or anyone’s life — and the performance of self the accompanies it. We all play a character, with attendant standards of masculinity, femininity, social class, race, nationality, sexuality, the list goes on — and that performance not only becomes monotonous, but exhausting.
Reality television takes that exhausting life performance and manages to simultaneously amplify and flatten it — to make it as legible and, by extension, as commodifiable as possible. A person becomes a character; a week becomes a 22-minute show; a life becomes a performance. And the individual comes to represent the general: this is what everyone who is working class and from New Jersey is from; this is how every wealthy housewife in Atlanta behaves. Through editing and choice production decisions, a person’s life becomes a stereotype. If our media reflects our ideologies, then reality television is its most potent exponent.
Which is precisely what makes Kroll Show so squeamish and progressive: it takes television’s potent ideological form and amplifies it to its breaking point. I watch each sketch certain that it will collapse in on the blackhole of self-referentiality and performativity, but it never happens. The ideas it’s working with (almost always, riffs on what it’s like to be a man in American/Canadian society today) are just too strong to implode entirely. But more than SNL and maybe as much as Key & Peele, Kroll Show comes close.
Kroll Show masques itself as a dude show — its star, after all, is most famous for his turn on the dudetastic The League, and Comedy Central is nothing if not a dude’s club, with certain cool girls (Sarah Silverman, Amy Sedaris, Amy Schumer and, now, the cast of Broad City) allowed if they can play along.
What’s magnificent, then, is the way that Kroll Show manages to skewer not only dudes like the host of the ultimate in horrible dude shows, Daniel Tosh, but dudes who like Tosh, and even the other shows that dudes who like Tosh watch. It’s like a full-frontal assault on dude culture and the ideologies that support it, but in dickfest drag.
In fact, Kroll is one masculine drag show after another, each fitted into the bounds of a popular reality show genre, “docudrama,” music videos, or teenage melodrama. In all but the teenage melodrama, characters “play” themselves, which provides the first level of performance: Bobby Bottleservice is a “real” guy, but he plays the role of Bobby Bottleservice for various reality programs (Ghost Bouncers, Very Much Reluctant Gigolos), sitting for interviews with the camera, amping up interactions with his “friends”/co-stars, and participating in the staging of artificial drama to provide a form of narrative structure.
But that’s just the first layer — a level of performativity to which we’ve gradually grown accustomed. The second layer is Kroll’s performance of a reality star’s performance of “real self.” Here’s where the show could easily descend into the valley of toothless, SNL-style pastiche, reproducing, but not commenting, on the original performances of masculinity. And if you were just watching the visuals, that’s what it’d look like: a pitch perfect reproduction of the aesthetics that govern low-budget, cable-filler reality: slow-mos, filler replays, hashtags, cheap digital interview backgrounds, stagey font choices, 7th-grade-style use of filters, musical montages, and gag sound effects abound.
What elevates Kroll from precise pastiche, however, is alienating content. Take the Season One commercial for “Screws,” which starts out like a shot-for-shot reproduction of a Home Depot ad until, suddenly, the helpful employee suggests that what the middle-class white couple really wants, in terms of home improvement, is advice on how to make a secret room….where they can hide captives.
On another show, the joke might end there — it’s 30 seconds in, after all, which would make it a perfect commercial length. But the commercial keeps pushing: this couple wants to use the secret room to hide their molestation victims, and the reason the employee is so skilled at offering advice is because he, himself, was molested as a child; eventually, the couple lock him up and, when he tries to yell for help at commercial’s end, the husband figure, played by Kroll, breaks into a demonic, child-molester yell.
Written out, this all sounds in very poor taste. But the best satire often is: as Jerry Lewis famously explained, “if the comic can berate and finally blow the bully out of the water, he has hitched himself to an identifiable human purpose.” What the “Screws” sketch does, then, isn’t just to make us giggle at the mundane set-up of a bourgeois home improvement commercial, but show the performativity of good American capitalist citizenship.
In the store, these two look like the most average white Americans possible — which is another way of saying that they look like the people we see in commercials — but that’s a performance. If Kroll showed them buying materials and going home to watch football and let them moulder in the garage, okay, that’s a nice NPR-style joke, but it doesn’t make the performance outrageous and visible enough. Through dark, twisted means, “Screws” makes the ideology that underpins and naturalizes this type of commercial legible. It’s “too much,” but if you’re not slightly uncomfortable by what a piece of satire is doing, then either it’s doing it wrong or you’re watching it wrong.
The same concept applies to nearly every Kroll sketch. The Bryan LaCroix “Enter Me” music video promotions highlight the dissonance between the strains of innocence and sexually predation that underpin the image of the teen idol (and, in this case, Justin Bieber in particular); “Beats and Rice” takes the practice of finding raw, politically-engaged artists on the internet, throwing money at them, and sanitizing / lobotimizing their sound in order to appeal to corporate interests. “Ref Jeff” forces the average and unremarkable viewer to identify with the referee’s desperate attempts at familiarity, essentially ventriloquizing the fan’s performance of intimacy with the stars he follows, while “Drones” shows just how impotent the American soldier, operating in the age of fully-mechanized drone warfare, has become.
These skits are all funny, but it’s the reality spoofs I find most lacerating. In a recent Splitsider piece, Eric Voss claims that Kroll’s reality satire “demonstrates how low the bar has sunk, and how easily we embrace obnoxious personalities with no discernible talents as celebrities, thanks to flashy editing and contrived scenarios.” Kroll’s pastiche does, indeed, lampoon the facile narrative devices employed by reality television, but Voss misses the true target of the satire: it’s not us, as viewers, or even the reality stars themselves, so much as the producers of this type of television, and the way it alternates between castrating malice, misogynistic leering, and a callous, condescending form of race and class tourism.
On the surface, “PubLIZity” seems to be reproducing the contemporary dude-claim that girls-are-crazy-bitches. Both Lizes — one played by Kroll, the other by the magnificent Jenny Slate — are vapid, skilless, and obsessed with appearance, no matter the effect on substance. “PubLIZity” is edited in a way that both appear to fill their lives with arguing with each other, insulting each other face-to-face, and complaining about each other behind closed doors. Men are useless and treat them like shit; other women are competitors, including the Lizes themselves.
Both Lizes are ridiculous, but I’d argue that the implicit message of “Publizity,” like “Armond of the House,” “Dad Academy,” “Very Much Reluctant Gigolo,” and the dozens of other reality satires is that something -- the reality television apparatus, specifically, and our participation therein, broadly — made them this way. The postfeminist woman, the castrated man, the fetishized ethnicity, the pathologized affectation, they’re not the problem, but the victims. We watch them in horror, but as Kroll suggests, we should be much more terrified by the various apparatuses, industrial and ideological, that made them that way.
¤With satire, there’s always a risk that people won’t be sharp enough to catch the joke and, as a result, wield the satire in a manner counter to the comedian’s aims. Anti-Semites singing “Throw the Jew Down the Well,” for example, or white frat dudes misappropriating lines from Chappelle Show. There’s a real possibility that people will use Kroll’s performance of Liz as a misogynistic weapon, or dress up as C-Czar for a white trash party.
But the farther Kroll pushes these skits, the more difficult it is to mistake them as endorsing the industry’s treatment of these characters, or what reality television, in general, has wrought of the raw material of so many people’s lives. In these reality shows, the subjects are the joke: and that’s not political or progressive; it’s mean, classist and a means of implicitly disciplining bodies and lifestyles that are marked as “other.” And that mode of entertainment, more than anything else, is what Kroll busies itself with blowing out of the water.
By the power of this vest on me,
Kroll Show regular and Kroll, "comedy friend" Chelsea Perretti's brother is the founder of Buzzfeed. And, the Co Founder of Huffington Post which is relevant for later "discussion."
Does this not result in a conflict of interest?This is only one of the major publications where Nick Kroll does his "Jules Kroll inspired tentacles everywhere shtick," but this Perretti connections seems very clear cut and explains a lot of the jaw dropping confusion when reading buzzfeed or huffington post articles on grotesque nemesis - Tig Notaro.