Whatever nascent budget IFC gives Comedy Bang! Bang!, Aukerman and company decided to spend it all on this one episode. Spaceships fly and things go boom in both a sendup of science fiction movies and nighttime talk shows, “Colin Hanks Wears a Denim Button Down and Black Sneakers” is as whacky and brilliant as the sketch show as ever been. Killer aliens stalking around the typical couch-and-chair set of a talk show call out the inauthenticity of typical nighttime entertainment. It’s cerebral and not always laugh out loud, but it feels wholly original and only something Bang! Bang! could pull off.
The episode starts with Noel DeSoil Holyfield (deSoil instead of deGrasse and Holyfield, as in Evander the boxer, instead of boxer Tyson comma Mike) played by Sinbad! The Kids’ Choice Award nominee takes a nice turn as a slightly kooky scientist who mostly just stands in one place. The real deGrasse Tyson is a better actor, however.
After an elaborate spaceship sequence (which didn’t look half bad thanks to that sweet IFC money), and then a perfect imitation of the Cosmos intro (also great looking), our heroes, Aukerman, Watts, Emmy-award winner Colin Hanks (“I was shooting a movie down on Qo’noS”), and a few other tertiary Bang! Bang! characters end up on the bridge of the spaceship.
As Noel deSoil Holyfield explains why Aukerman’s show isn’t insignificant amidst a sea of late-night entertainment, his stomach reenacts the pop-out scene from Alien and a little white alien squirms out of his broken sternum. The remaining survivors must kill the alien before, you guessed it, the end of the show.
There is a lot of meta-commentary brought up in “Colin Hanks Wears a Denim Button Down and Black Sneakers.” Aukerman poking fun at his place in the late-night universe is not entirely fictional. IFC is a tiny channel and Bang! Bang! is a tiny show. The alternative comedy scene, or what that term used to conjure up, is now gluttonous with podcasts, web series, and television shows. The underground is mainstream and all that. There seems to be a hint of “we were here first” energy to Aukerman’s humor in this episode. There’s a joke that “he’s a household name especially if you live in his house,” which could just as easily refer to Aukerman himself. Aukerman seems comfortable in his niche, but cognizant of the success of his peers all the same.
After prop master Diana dies at the hands of the now much bigger alien, it’s time to do a regular Bang! Bang! talk show. Hanks now looks and sounds scarily like his father, but he played his role well. The praise-fest was great, another skewer of typical talk shows, and then they start just making fun of different late night shows. Call-In Pranks with Colin Hanks gets praise for being ridiculously stupid, but somehow working. The points game stolen from @Midnight is fantastic, as is Chelsea Peretti’s bit about having prepped a story for the talk show, even though the whole thing is supposed to seem off-the-cuff. “I was told to act like it was my idea,” she says.
There’s jokes throughout the episode that all work well: the poisonous cookies left out for the alien, Peretti’s wicked witch laugh, but “Colin Hanks Wears a Denim Button Down and Black Sneakers” manages to pull off a great over-the-top physical stunt with the alien-in-a-vent bit. “I guess it’d be pretty weird to have it pop out at the most ironic moment,” and then it doesn’t! It’s a nice little mindfuck, since Bang! Bang! often calls out its own jokes, wink-wink-style. Aukerman tells them to go to the left, which they do, which is front of another vent and…well, no more Eric or security guard. “We went to the left, Scott! just like you told us to!” is easily the funniest line of the episode. Love it.
For an episode where a bunch of people died due to a giant rubber-suit alien, “Colin Hanks Wears a Denim Button Down and Black Sneakers” has a surprising amount to say. This type of episode, operating simultaneously in high-brow and low-brow planes, is Comedy! Bang! Bang! at its best.
- Scott’s onscreen credit: Ridley Scott’s Alien
- “Not as sore as my mom was last night after you did her”
- “He was gonna tell me what a quasar was and now i’ll never know!”
- “I’m going to have a bear with me tonight, folks”