It’s obvious to us why Rafi (Jason Mantzoukas, above), or in The League’s show lore terms, El Cunado, was excluded from brother-in-law Ruxin’s anniversary party. While it was still a classic episode, thanks especially to Taco (John Lajoie), and his hilarious Ruxin wedding video montage (“Love is…), we were miffed nontheless. We get that the show is resolved to bring Rafi to viewers in small doses, but largely we find The League’s funniest episodes to include the infamous El-Cunado. Aside from last season’s Thanksgiving episode, a comedic bounty which guest starred Sarah Silverman as Andre’s slutty sister and Jeff Goldblum as the senior Ruxin, the funniest episodes were ones in which Jason Mantzoukas reprised the Rafi role. Most notably were the episodes that guested Mantzoukas and Brie Larson (United States of Tara), as Ruxin’s slutty au pair.
Ruxin, who seems to need Rafi whenever he is locked in a dilemma that the expert liar can not navigate alone, calls on Raffi to move into his home temporarily to make his free loading babysitter (Brie Larson, United States of Tara) uncomfortable. When Ruxin opens the door on Rafi, who is sitting on the bowl, he becomes immediately revulsed. But Rafi, always over the top, and in over the top style, declares that Ruxin is “watching it happen” right now (“The Au Pair”, S3, E3), before Ruxin has a chance to run out of there. At moments like these we are left to wonder why show regulars Kevin and Pete have never made us laugh the way Rafi does in one scene. Ruxin, Andre, Jenny (Katie Aselton) and Taco are consistently funny, but we can’t say we have any problems with their roles being minimized in order to find lines for Rafi, who is approaching “funniest character on TV” status. This was the case a few weeks back during S4, E5 (“Breastalyzer”), when Andre had at best a nominal role, we assume, in order to make room for Rafi, whom Ruxin calls in because he has a conundrum. His gorgeous wife Sophia (played by positively sizzling Nadine Velasquez) has signed their young son up for swim classes that meet regularly every Sunday through the end of football season, so Ruxin asks Rafi to take the boy to swimming class and to pretend to be Ruxin while there, so he can keep things cool with his wife.
Rafi steals the show in his very 1st line, as they cut to him on the couch next to Ruxin as Sophia informs Ruxin of his swim class obligation. The audience doesn’t even know he’s there until Sophia starts walking out of the living room, when he declares that he “could watch her walk out of a room for hours.”
Rafi: “My sister’s body is bonkers. I hope you you’re hitting that.”
Ruxin: “I have an idea.”
Rafi: “Jerkoff party (undoing his pants). I like where you’re going with this.”
Ruxin explains how he needs him to take the boy to swim class and impersonate him. He also explains that there’s no smoking and no knives at swim class.
Rafi: “What if there’s an attack?”
Ruxin explains that there will be only mothers and children in the pool.
Raffi: “That’s exactly what I would attack.”
At swim class, Rafi affects the ruse that he is Ruxin, as instructed, strips down to a speedo with alacrity, cannon ball’s the pool (“Rafi Bomb”, below), and then criticizes the instructor for allowing a pool of 5 yr olds flotation devices.
Rafi: “You think they’re gonna get one of these when the Russians attack?”
After that, Rafi begins to hit on the instructor, Gail (Andrea Savage). Cut to him arriving at Taco’s housewarming party with said instructor. Rafi seeks out Ruxin and excitedly tells him his date is crazy.
Rafi: “We just had sex in the cab!”
Ruxin: “You just had sex in the back of the cab?”
Rafi: “In the back…of her body.”
Ruxin quickly discovers though, that Rafi’s date is his son’s swim teacher, those circumstances needing to remain secret to Sophia or the great dad myth will be blown. So Ruxin orders Rafi to get rid of her. Because Gail is not compliant, Rafi decides to tell her that he is in love with another woman in the room, who happens to be his sister. His go to move is to French kiss her in front of Gail–an obvious, aggressive and overzealous kiss at that–and then to compliment Sophia on what a good kisser she is, Rafi style. So he tells her she kisses so well it ‘made his dick hard.’. Sophia seemed intrigued at that, leaving open the awesome possibility of more hilarious incest jokes in The League’s future.
Sophia: “It’s hard, really?”
Rafi: “You wanna check?”
We won’t spoil the grand finale for you, one that left Rafi with the impression that he was going to have sex with Kevin and Taco’s mom. But it was a grand finale, left to be executed by a rising star.
We enjoyed Jason Mantzoukas very much as a frequent voice on The life and Times of Tim and look forward to seeing him reprise his role as one of Laura’s Dern’s co-workers on Enlightened, which returns to HBO for S2 in the new year. We also liked Mantzoukas in his recurring guest spot as off the cuff Indiana perfume giant Dennis Feinstein on Parks and Recreation. And we get the premise of Rafi on The League: good for making a porno in Andre’s apartment with Dirty Randy (Seth Rogan), not so good at family gatherings. Whether he is needed to creep out the help, stand in for Ruxin, or be Andre’s designated driver, who does not get the principle that designated drivers do not drink, mind you (Rafi, upon being questioned for guzzling a beer, says ‘don’t worry, I’ll crap the booze out.’. They ask him if that works. ‘Sorta.’), we are really hoping they find more uses for this fantastic character on The League.