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Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Eric Andre Wears A Cat Collage Shirt & Sneakers”

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“Eric Andre Wears A Cat Collage Shirt & Sneakers” is not a perfect episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! That’s not actually the purpose of the episode, but even if it were, Scott Aukerman nips the idea of it actually being a perfect episode in the bud in the episode itself: “A perfect show is just something that happens. You can’t orchestrate it.” However, the episode is already in the process of a complex time travel plot, so that revelation is kind of too little, too late. Also, it’s probably truer when it comes to a “real” talk show, not a scripted comedy show.

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Comedy Bang! Bang! is such a surreal show that the very idea of perfection will probably depend on the viewer. (You could say that, much like humor, it’s subjective.) According to Scotty Auks at the beginning of this episode (for us), good isn’t simply enough, because “good is the enemy of great.” So in Scott’s mind, perfect is simply an episode where he doesn’t mess up the intro due to a typo (thanks a lot, Eric the Production Assistant), Reggie asks the guest an insightful question, and Scott has to bump the second guest simply because of how well he and the first guest are gelling in the interview:

Scott & Eric: “Let’s bump the next guest!”

Scott: “Dual Dialogue? Command D!”

A perfect episode is also one in which future Reggies “stop dropping stuff.” Based on that criteria, Comedy Bang! Bang! has constantly been close to almost having a perfect episode. However, those episodes didn’t have inventor Mike Canker’s (“Weird Al” Yankovic) time machine to nudge them in that direction. Scott’s obsession with making a perfect episode leads to disguises (fake mustaches, then wigs, then hats, then Hawaiian shirts)—because the biggest rule of time travel is not to interact with past versions—and do-overs every single time something goes wrong. The episode isn’t afraid to joke about the fact that it’s an unabashed Back To The Future parody, from the knock-off score and soundtrack, to the font at the end of the episode (“TO BE CONTINUED IN…”), to an oblivious Reggie just straight up saying it:

Scott: “We’ll go back to the time period following the present.”

Reggie: “You mean back to the future.”

Scott: “We can’t say that!”

Reggie dies in the crossfire, adding to the episode’s stakes, and that when it becomes clear. This is not only a time travel story. This is a villain’s origin story. Bumping Mike Cankers leads to him getting his vengeance as Doctor Time, a time-travelling monster (who kills Reggie and plans to kill Scott next) who doesn’t want there to be any “perfect” episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! Scott saves the day, all of the Scotts and Reggies merge, and it’s back to the beginning, which is actually the end. Or is it?

It absolutely makes sense why this is Scott Aukerman’s favorite episode. This episode must have been fun to film, if not somewhat stresful. Scott has been hyping this episode as his favorite of the season, and in the latest Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast episode, he mentions that “Weird Al” spent three days on set filming this episode. The episode even brings out some nice show continuity, as Doctor Time and Scott run through past episodes of the season: they run through the Rob Corddry, Wayne Coyne, Dane Cook, and Kevin Smith episodes and even give Jesse Ventura (James Adomian) from the Ellie Kemper episode confirmation of time travel. Also, while sliding through space and time (without a phone booth), you can spot Tony Hawk’s face, and Jack Blade (Paul Rust) greets Scott.

At this point, Comedy Bang! Bang! can probably make a complex comedic storyline (that still makes sense) in its sleep. So succeeding in that isn’t enough to award an episode great or perfect status. It’s funny, which is the lowest bar any episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! (the show or even the podcast) needs to hurdle, and the time travel storyline is captivating, even knowing the beats the show is going to hit in order to make the ultimate send-up of the genre. The sight gag of watching the other Scotts and Reggies watch the show doesn’t get old, although it doesn’t exactly get new after one of the future Scotts brings up finally getting the chance to just watch the show:

“You know, I never get to see the show the way other people get to do it, so this is really a treat.”

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However, the best episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! really know how to utilize their main guests (not just the character-based secondary guests), especially within the context of the episode’s gimmick. Think about the episodes like “Josh Groban Wears A Suit & Striped Socks,” “Lizzy Caplan Wears All Black & Powder Blue Espadrilles,” or “Casey Wilson Wears A White Lace Dress & A Black Blazer.” They’re not just memorable gimmicks—the guest is just as important to the greatness of the episode’s story as everything else. Here, Eric Andre is honestly more of an afterthought to time travel and “Weird Al” Yankovic’s inventor character/villain. He has some really good bits, like his and Scott’s riff on doctors (“blech”) and Johnny Appleseed, as well as the return of The Bookkeeper’s schtick (“I might like my snacks salty but not my language” and the like). But the story isn’t about Eric Andre, and it’s not just because he isn’t hosting this talk show. The time travel paradox has no effect on him at all, except for the banana peel trip, but once everything’s cooking, it’s easy to forget that ever happened.

This has actually been a little bit of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s problem these past few episodes. It’s not so much a choosing of a“bad” guest (though plenty of people can agree to disagree on the presence of Dane Cook, Chris Hardwick, and Kevin Smith) but instead not having much to do for them (Dane Cook was given the most). This second half of season three appears to have lost a bit of its ability to balance the guest with the other in-studio bits—and it looks like out-of-studio segments have completely fallen to the wayside perhaps because of the trouble with this balancing act—even though Scott Aukerman and company are still putting in so much hard work.

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“Eric Andre Wears A Cat Collage Shirt & Sneakers” is a labor of love from good old Choctaw and the gang, and it shows. It’s a fun, wacky adventure—an emotional thrill ride, if you will. But is it perfect? No, it’s still not perfect. But luckily, Comedy Bang! Bang! doesn’t need to be perfect to be enjoyable.

Stray observations:

  • Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Doc Clockerman.
  • With the return of Jack Blade, I wonder when Paul Rust is going to guest star as himself so Scott can talk about how “he loves chemicals so much, he’s Walter White.”
  • “Thanks, Scott! I can’t wait for people to buy my invention.” I love that at no point does anyone address the fact that time machines should not be on the market. Maybe that’s part of the plot of the sequel.
  • Since Reggie already has facial hair, instead of a fake mustache for disguise, he puts a band-aid over his mustache. That’s how it’s done.
  • Eric Andre’s cat collage shirt really did not disappoint.
  • Bookie may be gone, but he’s not forgotten. There’s a framed picture of him where he used to sit.
  • Eric: “Your wife has been pregnant for two years? You should see a doctor.”
    Scott: “Doctor? Blech.”
  • Scott: “Welcome back to the show. Reggie got hit by a sandbag. He’s dead. The coroner is coming to pick up the body of my best friend.”
  • That reminds me—who do you think will be replacing Reggie?
  • You can immediately tell that the Reggie and Scott that show up at the end of the episode are from the time period after the present because of their futuristic glasses.
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