Comedians—even insult comedians—are people too. And just like people, they celebrate Thanksgiving with the ones they care about and cower under tables when they’re being insulted by unassuming talk show hosts with unlimited sweaters.
The third season of Comedy Bang! Bang! has really been more hit than miss, which is why it’s a bit of the shock that this episode, “Amber Tamblyn Wears A Leather Jacket & Black Booties” falls more in the miss category. On paper, Amber Tamblyn is the perfect guest for Comedy Bang! Bang!’s bizarre world of alternative comedy—her entire Tyrese story is still one of the most delightfully weird things I have ever heard—but unfortunately, she’s not exactly given the best material to work with in this episode. That, paired with the diminishing returns of the Fourvel (a shrunken Bobby Moynihan) character (at least in the Comedy Bang! Bang! television world) makes the episode rely on the impending (also not that strong) “Thanksgiving Special” at the end, which Reggie innocently calls “The Roast Of Reggie Watts.”
It’s somewhat disconcerting that the best, most consistently funny parts of the episode are the act break non sequiturs (“It turns out that Lost was a documentary,” claims Fourvel) and the faux commercial during the break for compilation of all of your favorite Thanksgiving carols.
Amber Tamblyn: “Who’s this Bruce Wayne character that everyone keeps talking about?”
Scott: “I think he’s a billionaire playboy of some sort.”
Fourvel is a character that is probably best heard but not seen, as there appears to be only so much they can do with the character in Comedy Bang! Bang! the TV show. On the podcast, there can suddenly be alternate reality versions of him that get too stabby for their own good. Here, he threatens to cut off the necks and faces off of Scott and Amber Tamblyn—even though he enjoyed her very much in those 15 episodes of House—and informs everyone that he killed his adopted father, Bill Hader, but the stabbing-obsessed orphan doesn’t get to do much else in the episode. As an orphan on Thanksgiving, he has his own sob story, but much like guest Amber Tamblyn, it’s all secondary to the main course of the roast.
Even toward the end with the Thanksgiving Special, nothing in the episode really makes it to that next level that makes it all worth it. Reggie invites his buddies Jeffrey Ross, Whitney Cummings, and Anthony Jeselnik to his “roast,” and Scott realizes that he’s setting himself up for a comic-style roasting, only to keep it to himself and worry silently. The episode builds up to their arrival, with them all eventually showing up and being on their best behavior. The event is full of compliments and sonnets, only for it to all go wrong due to Reggie cooking the turkey for only 30 minutes at 1000 degrees (thanks to the book 10 Creative Ways To Ruin A Roast Cookbook). The episode actually picks up a bit more as Scott defends Reggie to the comedians and razzes/zings them while Fourvel cheers him on (“Yeah! Show no mercy, Scott!”) and they let out an absolutely true revelation:
Jeffrey Ross: “In all our years of roasting, no one has ever turned a vitriolic tongue on us.”
Whitney Cummings & Anthony Jeselnik: “Not once, not never!”
The past two episodes have had comedian guests who have gotten their fair share of vitriol and hate, especially in comparison to the niche comedians who usually stroll into Comedy Bang! Bang! The Whitney Cummings and the Dane Cooks of the world don’t exactly fit into the Comedy Bang! Bang! style based on all outwardly appearances, but Comedy Bang! Bang! still somehow finds a way to fit these typically square pegs fit into a round whole. That’s partially what makes it even odder that someone like Amber Tamblyn who should work within the show’s world doesn’t quite work in this episode.
So with all of the chaos befalling his meal, Reggie intervenes to stop the madness, calls this his Last Supper, and the painting is recreated (with pilgrim hats, of course) to end the episode. Amber Tamblyn singing “Yams” from the Thanksgiving Carols commercial plays over the beauty.
To call it a strange episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! is redundant, but unlike the show’s Halloween-centric episode (“Wayne Coyne Wears A Halloween Costume”), even the cheesier jokes in this episode fall flat. The guest-based humor here mostly comes in the form of snot and fart jokes, with Amber’s entrance (being enamored of Reggie, because clearly she has taste) and the somewhat obvious Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants joke being the highlights of the interview proper. Scott is actually at the top of his game during the interview, especially with his observations about Two And A Half Men as an allegory to the struggles of minorities. In theory, with the inclusion of Fourvel, this week’s Comedy Bang! Bang! is essentially a higher concept, literal episode of Two And A Half Men. Chew on those mashed potatoes.
Comedy Bang! Bang! puts on its “Thanksgiving voice” with this episode, but unfortunately, Fourvel is right when he rants about how little sense that makes. Still, Comedy Bang! Bang! is one of the best comedies on TV, and one little off-night isn’t going to change that.
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Got Tryptophan?
- The Peanuts-like music that plays whenever the episode focuses on Reggie’s Thanksgiving roast is a nice touch, and it also explains the thought bubbles bit. Also, that reminds me: We already know about one person Scott has in the basement. What about these other bodies?
- I did not mention the Milton the Milk Man bit (Kevin Nealon), but it’s a pleasant little segment.
Scott: “You know Milton, I’ve always wondered. What’s in the 98%?”
Milton the Milk Man: “Motor oil.”
- When it comes to Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants and comedy, my mind always go to the line from Childrens Hospital’s first season where David Wain tells Cutter Spindel (who explains that he directed that movie): “That one I did not see and I do not care for.”
- Scott: “So Amber, people will know you from Two And A Half Men, where you play the long lost lesbian daughter of Charlie Harper. But isn’t it unfair that there are two and a half men for every 70 cents a woman makes?” Where’s Gabby? I’m sure she has something to say about this.
- Choose your favorite Thanksgiving Carol: “Pardon My Turkey,” “Football Dads,” “Napkin Rings,” “Pizza This Year,” “Stuffing (It’s Just Bread),” “Let’s Hang The Christmas Lights Early,” “Dark Meat,” “If Roker Ain’t Fat,” “Yams”
- Fourvel: “I’m not an intruder. I’m an orphan boy.”
Scott: “They’re not mutually exclusive.”
- Who’s got thumbs, wrote this review, and watched every episode of Whitney? That’s right, this girl right here.
- Also, Amber Tamblyn not knowing who Jeffrey Ross, Whitney Cummings, and Anthony Jeselnik are is such a real moment in the episode. It reminds me of the time that a former co-worker tried to get into a conversation about comedy with me, didn’t understand how I could talk so much about it, and then told me how Jeff Dunham’s her favorite comedian.