If there’s one universal fact about comedy, it’s that it is a very subjective art form. For every person who finds Arrested Development to be the “funniest comedy ever,” there are those who sincerely call Seth MacFarlane a “genius” the moment they see a trailer for A Million Ways to Die in the West. For every person who loved Colin Quinn in the Weekend Update desk, there is bound to be someone who can’t get enough of Colin Jost.
Even so, there are still those facets of the comedy game that are just an acquired taste, plain and simple. Comedy Bang! Bang!—both the television series and the podcast—fits the acquired taste bill. Being a fan of the show doesn’t necessarily make one a fan of the podcast and vice versa. But even the more mainstream comedy outlet of the late night talk show can be classified as an acquired taste. Letterman, Leno, Fallon, Ferguson, Meyers, O’Brien—all bring something different to the table, whether you like them or not. The only thing these white men really have in common is the fact that they are white men.
So, as if daring itself to be even more niche, Comedy Bang! Bang! uses “Fred Armisen Wears Black Jeans And Glasses” to take two men who have no business hosting a typical late night talk show, battling it out to host a standard late night talk show. In case you thought the mysteries of who would be replacing whom in the late night talk show game were over, this week’s Comedy Bang! Bang! firmly states that you were wrong. Two more men are throwing their hats in the ring: Scott Aukerman and Fred Armisen.
Read any comment section for a Saturday Night Live review here on The A.V. Club, and somehow, there ends up being a Fred Armisen comment thread. People either like him or hate him, or (Option C) like him only on Portlandia. While his peers Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers have obviously gone on to host these late night staples with their white boy good looks, Armisen remains in the sketch world and on the sidelines. Literally on the sidelines, even, as the bandleader for Meyers’ Tonight Show.
But in the Bing Bong world of Comedy Bang! Bang, Fred Armisen isn’t just late night host material—he’s the cream of the crop.
Good old Choctaw, on the other hand, is completely wrong for the position. Especially in the arbitrary, superficial ways one can only assume these choices are made. As network executives Aimee Mann, David Alan Grier, and Mary Elizabeth Ellis remind us, Scott doesn’t even have mugs that say “TV At Night” (the show he’s vying for) on them, and his Comedy Bang! Bang! studio is all the way across town.
In his competition to be the best late night host possible, Scott actually lets his hosting duties fall to the wayside. Instead, he’s more concerned with making Fred Armisen look terrible, which actually happens to be impossible in this world. Fred Armisen is a master comedian, with comedy specials and books like Where Do I Come Up With This Stuff? and The Nutso Stuff I Come Up With (which will also be a movie, featuring “the whole group of characters from DuckTales”), respectively. Fred winning the position and eventually replacing the current TV At Night host (who turns out to be a Leno-fied Fred Willard) is a no-brainer.
There’s actually not a lot much going on separate from “Scott & Fred Complete For The Same Talk Show,” but we do get Reggie trying to court Stephanie the PA and Adam Pally as anti-drugs spokesperson, Robert DeBiro.
The sight of Reggie channeling his inner Garth Algar and not being able to talk to a pretty girl is humorous, but the show did a better Cyrano de Bergerac bit back in “Sarah Silverman Wears A Black Dress With A White Collar.” Reggie becoming drunk with power during his day dream does elevate the segment, but the lead-up to it is just so-so. However, Eli from Don’t Trust The B—— In Apartment 23 as the hyper masculine, stereotypical ‘80s movie villain is something I never really knew I needed until now.
As for Pally as DeBiro, it’s another matter of getting exactly what you’d expect. It’s a fairly straightforward joke, being an anti-drugs spokesperson who’s not even a little anti-drug, and there are chuckles (not belly laughs) to be had. At least we get “abso lool” out of it.
“Fred Armisen…” lacks the unpredictability of (and the hindsight that goes along with) a typical Comedy Bang! Bang! episode. Much like with Fred Armisen himself, what you see is pretty much what you get here; his schtick unfortunately hinders the episode. Honestly, the episode has its moments, but that’s really all they are—moments. It’s unfortunate, because this is a rare episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! with a truly clear, linear storyline. But ultimately, the episode is merely above average.
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Avoid Noiderman.
- I’m rather upset there was no pay-off to Reggie attempting to summon a Class Seven demon. If he had succeeded, maybe Scott could have defeated Fred. Oh well, there’s always next week.
- Howard Kremer of the Who Charted? podcast as the Scott-loathing camera man was great, but Stephanie Courtney (Flo from those Progressive commercials) as Scott’s agent Blanche was pretty inspired.
- The mailman showed up for such a brief moment I wondered originally if they just used a stand-in. According to the credits, it was definitely Jerry Minor.
- The “Reggie” chord on the guitar is just Reggie saying “drugs.” Sounds about right.