As a young woman obsessed with and mildly involved in the world of comedy, it made my year to see Netflix handing over creative control to a bunch of up-and-coming comedians on their new attempt at sketch comedy, “The Characters.”
That being said, not every episode was successful, but in this case the concept outweighs the content– giving these comedians, most of whom only have guest appearance credit on bigger shows, the opportunity to design a world and portray all the characters in it, is a win.
In my personal opinion, the two standout performances here were Natasha Rothwell and Paul W. Downs.
Rothwell has the two strongest skits in the show: one as a homeless man who threatens to spoil Game of Thrones for people on the subway if they don’t give him money, and two in her Lonely Island-esque ode to being a Basic Bitch, featuring SNL’s Cecily Strong and a few other wonderful up and coming lady comedians.
Full disclosure: I am the world’s biggest Broad City fan, so I was anticipating Paul Downs’ episode more than any other (he plays Abbi’s boss Trey on the show and often writes episodes). Some of his sketches were more miss than hit, but his absolute devotion to the characters he was playing really came across. I didn’t love his choice to intersperse them with live black box segments, but his devotion to his characters was probably the most nuanced, and his exaggerated “ac-tor” persona made me laugh out loud a lot.
Overall, each episode is absolutely dependent on whoever is in charge. Some comedians aren’t ready for this, but I know there’s enough up-and-comers out there for many seasons to come and look forward to what they can do.