There’s just something about the Point Break (or The Fast And The Furious, depending on your upbringing and/or age) film trope that appeals to the masses. It’s a twist on the bad boy with a heart of gold trope (yes, tropes on top of tropes), with the hero cop seeing past shallow things like rap sheets and criminal misconduct. “One last wave” and family trump little things like the law when it comes to this type of story. As five-time WCW Champion Booker T would say: “You gotta love it.”
“Maya Rudolph Wears A Black Skirt And Strappy Sandals” is an outright homage to Point Break, with a letterboxed, widescreen style to go with its big screen story. (The Bill & Ted reference later in the episode points to Scott Aukerman fancying himself more of a Keanu Reeves than a Paul Walker.) Reggie and Scott are going for “the heist of the century,” with Reggie in the role of the bad guy mark and Scott as the undercover fed tasked with taking him down, only to get too close in to process. To round it all out, Oscar Nunez (the second The Office alumni in a row to show up this season) and Deanna Russo (an underrated gem in everything she’s in) play Scott’s no nonsense superiors who won’t let him stop until he takes down Reggie.
Oscar (to Scott): “You better stop making like Coldplay, by creating ‘Trouble,’ and get back to work.”
None of this even takes into account that guest Maya Rudolph Keyser Söze’s them, literally flipping the script to end the episode.
With Comedy Bang! Bang!’s fourth season premiere bringing the out-of-studio bits and fake trailers out of the exile the second half of season three put them in and starting with appearances by past show characters, it looks like this season might be a “greatest hits” season. A lot of season three was about rewarding Scott (and Reggie) for their perceived greatness, so what better way to follow that up than by reminding the audience why they fell in love with them and the show in the first place? In fact, that’s probably the best way to eventually send off Reggie Watts.
“Maya Rudolph” is also an episode that inspires a lot of anticipation for what the rest of the fourth season will bring. Scott Aukerman looks to be vying for the title of Hardest Working Man In Hollywood (or comedy, at least), and with the making of Comedy Bang! Bang! (the series) season three and four so close to one another, it’s only normal to look for signs of fatigue in his and his colleagues’ work. Instead, two episodes in, there’s already a sense of renewed vigor that was sadly missing in the second half of season three (even at its best).
As pointed out in the comments for last week’s premiere, Scott Aukerman replied to a question during a Reddit Ask Me Anything that addressed the “extenuating circumstances” behind the unevenness and lack of big-time feel in the second half of the third season. It’s part of why, for me, that second half felt off and I constantly pointed out something being “off”—especially with regards to the lack of out of studio bits and fake trailers. Those last two episodes of the season, “Eric Andre Wears A Cat Collage Shirt And Sneakers” and “The Lonely Island Wears Holiday Sweaters And White Pants” were clearly bigger budget episodes, and the difference in stylistic quality between them and most of that second half of the season is obvious. One of the best things about Comedy Bang! Bang! is its ability to be so cinematic while it goes on these inspired riffs (similar to a Key & Peele or a Kroll Show), and that was simply lacking in the second half of season three, as good as the episodes could be.
Plus, there was nothing that could touch “Winner Or Sinner.”
This second episode is also boosted by the fact that Maya Rudolph is such a good guest, a point that would probably be the case even without the Goon/Go On joke in the episode. (Let the record reflect that yours truly loves a good Goon/Go On joke. Rest in peace.) Rudolph’s cool detachment—to the point where she just wants to pre-record her interview answers—is a pleasant surprise, as well as different enough vibe from Ty Burrell’s Dad style (although, as an eternal fan of The Bookkeeper gimmick, those jokes speak to me) that there’s no need to compare the first two guests of the season. Plus, the one-two punch of Maya Rudolph and Maria Bamford (as Claire Coulter, some relation) reminds us of the show’s acknowledgment that women are just inherently funnier than men, and they both pull their weight in an episode framed by such a high concept idea.
Going back to the “ironic hipster comedy” of Comedy Bang! Bang! that Emily Stephens discussed in her review of the premiere, speaking as both a fan and a critic, it makes sense why this show may not appeal to “everyone” or why certain audiences might believe it’s simply weird for the sake of being weird. It’s such a throwaway line in this episode, but “I liked when you said heinous. It reminded me of a funny part in Bill And Ted.” is basically Comedy Bang! Bang!’s criticism of more mainstream comedy in a nutshell. It’s the type of joke Comedy Bang! Bang! does often, calling out those shows that see comedy as simply making a reference that people will get (I’ve mentioned it before as being a Family Guy approach to comedy). “Ironic hipster comedy” gets criticized for thinking it’s above the art of making a joke, but even criticizing non-jokes is more of a joke than a “nerdy” reference with nothing behind it.
Then again, the height of “ironic hipster comedy” in this particular episode is probably the “Interbrews With Scott Aukerman” bit (featuring Twin Shadow). The segment itself is all about style over substance, and Scott is rightfully called out for it, in the show’s typical subversion of expectations. But if a viewer’s default setting is to call Scott out for the bit, then it’s over before it even begins in the humor department. That’s the trick when it comes to Comedy Bang! Bang! (both the series and the podcast)—the audience has to be along for the ride completely, otherwise it’s going to fail for them. It’s really the case for entertainment, in general, but when it comes to Comedy Bang! Bang!—even four seasons and as many episodes of the podcasts in—it feels like there’s still a disconnect between the work Scott and company are doing and the audience.* Comedy Bang! Bang! is hard to pin down in a lot of ways, because it’s never just one, or even, two things.
Or, it’s just like Maya Rudolph says in this episode: “This is fucking weird.”
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Scout’s Honorman
- *I’ve been catching up with the Best of 2014 for the podcast, and around number seven (the Andy Samberg/Lauren Lapkus episode), Scott and Paul F. Tompkins talked about how the “Hollywood Facts” bit (a personal favorite of mine) really divided people. He said the same about the Solo Bolo with Ben Schwartz too, which just goes to show you: Not every fan of “ironic hipster comedy” is the same.
- Maya: “But as they say, the show must Goon.”
- Scott: “How do you juggle—”
Maya: “Work and family?”
Scott: “No, how do you juggle?”
- Maya: “Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a female.” “Skirmish Of The Sexes” is an instant classic.
- Not only does David Alan Grier make a brief return as the network president, but that is Cameron Esposito as the waitress in the “Interbrews” segment. Cameron gets to call Scott “dumb.” Great ep.