Executive Content Editor
Photos courtesy of IFC
On Jan. 9, 2015, the Independent Film Channel (IFC) began airing the fourth season of their cult hit, Comedy Bang! Bang!, based on a podcast of the same name started in May of 2009. The brainchild of comedian, sketch-comedy writer, and host Scott Aukerman, IFC optioned the popular semi-scripted pseudo-talk show for a TV series, which began its run on June 8, 2012.
Comedy Bang! Bang! is one strange TV program–ostensibly a talk show, Aukerman brings a slate of special guests in every week, but things rarely stay in the realm of logic or reason. This is no Tonight Show; episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! essentially boil down to a series of skits with a distinct avant-garde flavor, and helmed by the wacky Aukerman and famously disorienting cult music producer Reggie Watts as the show’s one-man “band” leader, every 22-minute episode is sure to surprise, confuse, and delight you.
Over the years, Comedy Bang! Bang! has become popular not only with fans, but also within the entertainment industry itself. As a result, the show is able to fill its guest spots, of which there are multiple each episode, with a bevy of famous names and faces. Longtime contributors, such as comedians Chris Hardwick (Web Soup, The Nerdist) and Paul F. Tompkins (Best Week Ever, BoJack Horseman), routinely make appearances and play pretend as “guests” like the Cake Boss, Gary Busey, and Gordon Ramsay. However, most viewers will make note of the caliber of featured guests that the show has been able to accrue over the years. For example, past appearances have included the likes of Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Zoe Saldana, Andy Samberg, Rainn Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Jenna Fischer, Nick Offerman, David Cross, and several appearances by Zach Galifianakis, to name a very paltry few.
However, these are not serious interviews that are taking place. The hilarious and usually awkward conversations are often times broken up by such diversions as a nuclear apocalypse taking place outside the studio, medical-doctors-turned-action-heroes shrinking down to microscopic size in order to defeat a cold virus in Aukerman’s body, or Anna Kendrick going back in time and preventing the Big Bang, erasing the entire universe in the process. These skits are often confusing, rarely come to any sort of conclusion, and break every law of physics and reason. They are also almost unanimously brilliant.
Take for instance this season’s premiere, featuring Modern Family’s Ty Burrell. The episode is for apparently no reason framed as an odd parody of The Princess Bride, and some sketches include looking at the world through Burrell’s eyeballs (which were, according to him, “upside-down” at birth), a faux-primetime procedural featuring Aukerman as detective Dane Looker, and an appearance by comedian Nick Kroll (The League, Kroll Show) as Comedy Bang! Bang! Craft Services Coordinator and spoken word poet, Fabrice Fabrice. It’s nonsensical, perplexing, and hysterically funny.
Simply talking about Comedy Bang! Bang! doesn’t do the show justice. To really understand the madness on display here, you really have to just sit down and watch. And with the new season just beginning and the first three seasons available on Netflix, there’s no better time to do so. There’s an abundance of creativity on display here, and Aukerman and Watts have proven to be masters of modern comedy, exploring a breadth of different styles and cleverly satirizing whatever topic they have chosen to tackle on any given week. While it’s not for everyone, anyone looking for something new and exciting should not pass this show up. There frankly just isn’t anything like it on TV.