Television

What Will Be I Think You Should Leave’s New “Hot Dog Guy”?

We’re all trying to find the sketch that did this.

A man in a hot-dog costume stands amid a group of accusing people.
Tim Robinson, who definitely did not do this. Netflix

The new season of I Think You Should Leave has arrived on Netfix, and as audiences enjoy more of Zach Kanin and Tim Robinson’s sketch comedy, one question is on everyone’s mind: What’s going to become the new hot dog guy sketch? If you somehow missed the show’s first season, the hot dog guy sketch, from the fifth episode, tells the timeless story of a man implausibly claiming he is not the person who drove a hot-dog shaped car into a storefront, despite the fact that he is wearing a matching hot dog costume. It’s truly a classic.

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The first season of I Think You Should Leave was released in April 2019, but Netflix posted the sketch on YouTube in October of 2020. That’s because in the intervening time, Republicans went on an absolute bender of destroying things in completely predictable ways, then implausibly claiming they were not only innocent, but frantically searching for the real culprits. The internet was not going to let a meme as apt and memorable as Robinson in a hot dog costume go to waste, and as Rebecca Onion has documented, over the course of 2020, the hot dog guy sketch became ubiquitous on social media, which is probably why Netflix released an embeddable version of the sketch shortly before the election. (It’s worth noting that this sort of memeification always smooths out the nuances a little—for instance, Robinson’s line is not, “We’re all trying to find the guy who did this,” as it appears in the meme, but “We’re all trying to find the guy who did this and give him a spanking,” which is funnier, but a little less universally applicable.)

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So did I Think You Should Leave capture lightning in a bottle in its second season? To find out, we identified five sketches with the highest potential to become memes, then ranked them on our Hot Dog Potential scale, from one hot dog (🌭) to five hot dogs (🌭🌭🌭🌭🌭). There are two extremely important caveats: First, it’s impossible to accurately predict what images people are going to seize on in the future—who knows what as-yet-unconceived horrors, succinctly described in one of I Think You Should Leave’s sketches, might await us next month or next year? Second, the entire exercise is not all that relevant, because a sketch comedy show should be funny, not explanatory, and the second season of I Think You Should Leave is hilarious. That said, let’s get to the hot dogs!

“Spectrum” (🌭)

A man against a white background with a logo for Corncob TV.
Netflix
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“Spectrum,” a first episode sketch in which Tim Robinson plays the proprietor of a TV channel in danger of being dropped from Spectrum’s cable packages, has very little chance of becoming a handy shorthand for a perpetual feature of the social or political landscape. That’s because Robinson’s flagship show, Coffin Flop, is just hours and hours of corpses falling out of their coffins midfuneral. That’s not really a common experience—yet!—and so, very little of the sketch provides meaningful commentary on anything that is actually happening. (You could make a case for Robinson yelling, “I didn’t do fucking shit! I didn’t rig shit!” but in most of those situations, the hot dog guy meme is a better choice.) “Spectrum” makes our top five for one reason: It seems like it would be extremely horrible to live in a country where “just body after body busting out of shit wood and hitting pavement” was a common, relatable experience, and it’s never smart to bet against the United States becoming extremely horrible in new and surprising ways.

“Blues Brother” (🌭🌭)

A man in a black suit and sunglasses, with a growling bear behind him.
Netflix
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This sketch, in which Tim Robinson tries to salvage an acrimonious party by doing a terrible Blues Brothers impersonation, oblivious to the fact that he’s pissing off the rest of the guests as well as the neighborhood dogs, is visually striking, GIF-friendly, and ideal for situations where you can’t figure out how someone’s ill-conceived plan was ever supposed to work in the first place. That’s not quite as common a situation as “someone is trying to escape culpability,” but it does happen, and maybe it’ll happen often enough that the internet will turn this sketch into a meme. Or someone famous could do a bad Blues Brothers impersonation for no reason. It’s possible, but not likely, which is a classic example of a sketch deserving two hot dogs on the Hot Dog Potential scale.

“Sloppy Steaks” (🌭🌭🌭)

A real piece of shit.
Netflix
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As long as people have disreputable but kind of strange pasts, images from this Episode 2 flashback to the days when Tim Robinson’s character was “a real piece of shit” are going to be useful. The sketch doesn’t really depict any universal truths about human behavior—unless there have been drastic new developments in the restaurant industry we’re missing—but it is universally true that humans love roasting their friends over the weird and disreputable things they did years ago, which means every shot of Robinson acting cool while looking ridiculous is likely to get an internet workout. That’s good for three hot dogs, and no sloppy steaks.

“Karl Havoc” (🌭🌭🌭🌭)

A man in an ill-fitting body suit in the middle of a mall.
Netflix
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This Episode 1 sketch, in which Robinson plays the host of a prank show with a terrible makeup department, doesn’t have many great or memorable lines of dialogue, but every shot of Robinson in his Karl Havoc costume is a hilarious travesty, suitable for any situation in which someone has gotten in over their head or had too much faith in their friends or co-workers’ talents. There’s something poignant about Karl Havoc’s rubbery, miserable face—and rubbery, miserable internet users are going to respond to it strongly. Four hot dogs.

“Carber Vac” (🌭🌭🌭🌭🌭🌭)

A man against a white background, captioned "I was fired from work for something complete embarrassing."
Netflix
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For a sketch to receive six hot dogs on a Hot Dog Potential scale that only goes to five hot dogs, it’s not enough to be hilarious, nor is it enough to have a bunch of dialogue that sums up something essential about the way the world works right now. Your sketch also has to be about hot dogs, and “Carber Vac” is. A callback to a previous sketch in which Robinson chokes on a hot dog during a business meeting, the sketch is an ad for a hot dog vacuum designed to suck hot dogs out of peoples’ throats, thus preventing them from ruining business meetings and getting fired. The dialogue will be easily applicable to contemporary situations for as long as whining about cancel culture is a thing: A meme of Robinson saying, “I was fired from work for something completely embarrassing” would certainly have come in handy over the past few years. We’re proud to name “Carber Vac” as the I Think You Should Leave Season 2 sketch with the greatest hot dog guy potential. Disagree? Let us know in the comments—we’re all trying to find the guy who did this.

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