The heart of just about every sketch on I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson — the Netflix series created by the native Detroit comedian and former SNL cast member — is a bad decision.
One sketch finds Robinson at a dinner with some friends and a fictitious celebrity. When Robinson starts choking on his food, he refuses to seek help and continues to conduct toasts and small talk as to avoid embarrassment, all while going blue in the face.
Another sketch, also a dinner setting, features Robinson on a date that is going pretty well — until he takes note of just how many of the loaded nachos his date appears to be consuming, and approaches the wait staff to see if they can craft a “don't hog all the meaty nachos” policy on the fly. The lie obviously backfires and the date goes off the rails.
And in perhaps the most memorable sketch of the series, a guitar wielding-Robinson appears alongside a Johnny Cash-esque Billy, played by Rhys Coiro, who is at the mercy of recording studio execs when he is told that gospel music isn't selling anymore. As a sort of a Hail Mary move, Billy tells Robinson to follow his lead, launching into a "Man in Black"-inspired song titled “The Day That Robert Palins Murdered Me,” which takes a spooky detour when an overly confident Robinson begins singing about the day the skeletons came back to life.
“The worms are their money/ the bones are their dollars,” Robinson sings. He adds that the resurrected skeletons pull our hair up but never out, and are overwhelmed with the amount of food available to them. Needless to say, it may have been too spooky to seal the record deal.
Well, file this one under good deeds and good decisions. Robinson, who co-created the Comedy Central series Detroiters along with fellow Detroiter Sam Richardson, checked in with Hamtramck's community theatre and nonprofit Planet Ant this weekend. Planet Ant, which offers comedy, improv, music, and theater programming, as well as classes, workshops, and parties seven days a week, averaging 11-16 shows across its four stages weekly, made the decision to suspend all performances and classes until further notice. Amid the flurry of COVID-19 closures, the organization received a check-in from Robinson over the weekend, as Planet Ant served as his old stomping grounds. Shortly after the call, a sizable donation was made to help the theater, its staff, and performers as they navigate an uncertain future.
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🖤 This is a long one, but we have to share: This weekend was supposed to be monumental for Planet Ant. After months of hard work and a grant from Michigan Humanities, we were ready to open our biggest production to date. We made some upgrades to the hall, ran ads on WDET, purchased a billboard on the side of I-75 and were keyed up to perform an updated and enhanced version of The Detroit Musical. We were so excited to welcome our community into the Hall to show them all the work we had done and THEN COVID-19 happened. Glamway and Is It Okay To Say This didn't get to have their closing weekend. The Independent Comedy Club didn't get to continue its takeover of the Detroit standup scene and our musical did not get to open. It was heartbreaking to see our stage go dark but we knew that it was the right thing to do. What we didn't know was how supportive our community would be. We have been blown away by the support that we have seen over the last 24 hours. We have had donations coming in every few hours, some big and some small but every one just as important as the next. Then, we got a call from an old friend named Tim Robinson (I Think You Should Leave, Detroiters, SNL). He wanted to check in on his old stomping grounds and see if there was anything he could do. We were thrilled that he cared and reached out, that was more than enough to make our day. Then, we checked our email. Let's just say, this Detroiter puts his money where his heart is. We cannot thank him enough for this gesture. The moral of this story is, it is very dark right now, but there is always some light as long as we stick together, support each other and believe in better days. 💞 🌏🐜
For Darren Shelton, Planet Ant's executive director, Robinson's donation is more than just money, it's about maintaining morale.
“The money helps, but more than anything, our performers are hurting,” Shelton says. “For performers, the stage is our place to be vulnerable and to deal with adversity in a creative way. Not having that has been difficult, even for the short time its been.”
Robinson also used his social media accounts to draw attention to Planet Ant and called for folks to contribute. Sam Richardson and Jamie Moyer have followed Robinson's lead in donating worms/bones, er, cash to the theater, and Shelton says Planet Ant's L.A.-based alumni are already rallying support as a result.
“I think it's up to us leaders in the community to find infrastructure that bridges this divide in a creative way,” Shelton says. Over the weekend, Shelton, along with Andy Reid and Devin Rosni, hosted a livestream of their Simpsons podcast Homerphelia and opened up the phone lines. Shelton said the phones rang for 2.5 hours.
“It almost felt like we were just hanging out with our people. It felt like a slight return to some kind of normalcy,” he says. “People are struggling without their community.”
In the coming days, Shelton says they're entertaining doing livestreams of improv performances, with a small handful of performers who are in good health and practicing social distancing — a true challenge in improv. The livestreams will also be without a live audience.
Meanwhile, binge the first season of I Think You Should Leave With Tim Robinson on Netflix and check out Planet Ant's YouTube channel for livestreams and other opportunities to get involved.
But most importantly:
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