Aukerman and Shepard

Comedy Bang! Bang! is unique in both its origin (the podcast that beget a network that beget a television show) and its execution. Aukerman and gang are just as happy with a roulette of random sketches as they are with a heavily-themed episode. In “Dax Shepard Wears A Heather Grey Shirt And Black Blazer,” Bang! Bang! attempts a high-minded concept episode that pays off in spades.

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Immediately, Mr. Stingy drops in to set up the episode’s frame. The evil landlord conducts an illegal inspection and finds multiple violations (“You’ve completely demolished the fourth wall!”). Aukerman has to raise a ridiculous amount of cash by the end of the show or they will all be evicted. This is a rote MacGuffin for Bang! Bang! by now, Aukerman must do something by the end of the episode or else the show is no longer. Watts suggests the addition of a new roommate and we’re off.

Enter Natasha Lyonne as Katie, a possible new roommate who seems a bit crazy to Reggie (“I’m Katie. I definitely won’t dress up as you and copy everything you do. I’m Katie”), but totally awesome to the host. Leggaro’s doppelgänger/stalker introduces a more subtle layer to the entirety of the episode. Throughout, “Dax Shepard Wears A Heather Grey Shirt And Black Blazer” plays with the line between drama and comedy. This is addressed directly in the Dax segments, but it informs every skit in the episode. It’s the proverbial rug that ties the room together. Bang! Bang! manages to innovate even fifty-plus episodes in.

Shepard demonstrates his acting skills to Aukerman by performing the same line, “Your car is ready,” in a comedic then dramatic way. Both are equally ridiculous and it’s a nice touch to add the honky horn (official name) on the dramatic bit as well. Aukerman then asks Shepard an odd question in a lighthearted tone (comedy!) and Katie steps in to ask the same question in a darkly dramatic tone (drama!). Leggaro is great as a creepy stalker; I was oddly unsettled when she said “I wanted to see how the words feel in my mouth.”

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Then, a twist! Mr. Stingy is found dead in the parking lot and all signs point to Aukerman as the lead suspect. But first, a public service announcement. This is one of the best taped pieces Bang! Bang! has put out this season. There is a long build up of a very normal, cheesy PSA, which then transitions into Lonely Island-style lunacy. What starts as a PSA on honesty devolves quickly and beautifully: Baskets — they don’t all need to be swishes; Swishes — they make really cool sounds; and, of course, the kicker, Honesty — keep it in check sometimes. Slam dunk.

Kevin Allison (yes, that guy from The State) comes in as Bertram Jollymore, professional gift guesser. Bertram Jollymore has made the unfortunate decision to pay for the item if he cannot guess it. His most expensive item? An automobile (I like to think it was in a car-sized box).

The episode ends with Katie being (obviously) caught as the murderer. There’s also a nice bit about how the network president is also the executor of the will. The whole episode wraps up nicely with a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it joke at the very end where Aukerman’s face briefly morphs into Katie’s.

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Bang! Bang! manages to find new ways to mine laughs and the comedy/drama theme of “Dax Shepard Wears A Heather Grey Shirt And Black Blazer” made laugh and feel smart. That’s a winning combo in my book.

Stray observations:

  • Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Mauve Sweaterman
  • The constant fear of the show shutting down seems out of place given IFC’s history of retaining shows and the recent forty episode pickup. But what do I know?
  • Was that a super subtle Marc Maron shoutout? “You never lock the gates! Unlike my favorite tenant Marc!”
  • “I took a three hour shower and thought about missed opportunities with my dad.”
  • El Barto! Why? Why not?
  • We’d have to spend a fortune on sweaters and Axe molding gel!” Joke or well-placed product placement?
  • “I thought he worked for the IMDB Memorable Quotes department” is probably my quote of the season so far

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