When I Think You Should Leave premiered in 2019, much of the ensuing coverage leaned on a reductive shorthand to explain its offbeat appeal. “Many of the characters are at least somewhat off-putting,” Jimmy Kimmel said to co-creator and star Tim Robinson during an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! “They take something and they go a little bit too far, and then even further, and then well beyond too far to the point of hilarity.” Three years later, whenever a sketch is built around an unlikable weirdo doubling down on their disagreeable behavior, the influence of I Think You Should Leave feels inescapable. This is true of the best sketch in Jamie Demetriou’s special A Whole Lifetime With Jamie Demetriou, available now on Netflix, but Demetriou enlivens the formula by adding a dash of quintessentially British pathos and distinct physical comedy to make it his own.
The sketch is centered on a group of friends who are meeting to kick off a bachelor party — or “stag do,” as it’s called in the U.K. — for their friend Fred (Ben Ashenden). Everything is going smoothly until Fred’s in-over-his-head best man, Kieran (Demetriou), begins trying and failing spectacularly to explain to Fred’s other friends what he has planned for the occasion. Kieran, a seemingly mild-mannered teetotaler, appears to have built his entire understanding of bachelor parties from ’80s movies filled with debauchery he finds mortifying. But intent on being a good friend, he perseveres, appointing himself a bachelor-party czar to make sure the party matches the “complete carnage” he has constructed in his head. “This is going to be the worst day of this little dickhead’s whole life!” he says, his voice betraying him by cracking. There’s a brief pause of sideways glances before one of the attendees asks, “… Why?”
The sketch goes on like this with Kieran trying his best to maintain this aggressive persona he’s visibly uncomfortable wearing while Fred and his other friends look on in confusion, wondering why they can’t just have a pleasant time enjoying one another’s company. “Let me remind you that, yes, we are men,” Kieran says to the group. “And if I catch a single one of you not thinking about women’s breasts throughout the day at any point — if I spot that, you’re seeing off a Guinness straight away. There’ll be no pause. It’ll be in your mouth and down your gullet. Straight away. I don’t fucking care.” As he completes this sentence, he breaks under the pressure and starts sobbing.
Fred, a loyal friend, tries to console Kieran by buying in and encouraging his friends to do the same. He is so concerned about his friend’s welfare that when Kieran eventually suggests a game in which the loser has to “shit themselves in their trousers,” Fred forces the group to play. Kieran, of course, loses and dutifully pays his penance while everyone else watches in horror. Text cannot do justice to the incredible interplay of facial expressions that carries this scene over the finish line: the visceral shock, empathy, determination, and more. If I Think You Should Leave is a show built on American blowhards who make everyone uncomfortable and are asked to go away, this sketch is the British rejoinder.