Every week, Comedy Bang! Bang! deconstructs the talk-show format. “Nick Offerman Wears A Green Flannel Shirt And Brown Boots” makes that deconstruction literal when a massive earthquake brings beams and debris raining down inside the studio and out. As Reggie points out in one of his tonally inconsistent, consistently hilarious line readings, “Scott! The door’s been blocked by rubble!,” trapping cast and crew inside.
No need to panic! Reggie’s packed the standard disaster-preparedness kit: distortion pedal, vocoder, mirror ball, glow necklaces, and a gallon of the stuff that goes inside glow necklaces. Wait… maybe there’s some need to panic.
Fortunately, tonight’s scheduled guests include Clive Brillis (Michael Showalter), professional survivalist and host of Intrepidness Channel show Clive, Not Inside. Unfortunately, Clive estimates they have just 30 minutes before their air runs out. (The in-studio air-gauge confirms Clive’s assessment, as does the oxygen-sensitive red-light alarm as the show—and their lives—creep toward its last minutes. Is this equipment an industry-wide standard? Does Conan have them?) Fortunately, Clive sagely urges Scott and Reggie to continue their interviews while he tunnels his way to rescue. “If you don’t tape your program, it means the earthquake one; us zero. Which means the earthquake will have won… by one point.”
It’s fun to see Michael Showalter, who often plays gently besweatered Baxters, cast as a dashing adventurer, the kind of swashbuckler who can summit Everest carrying only a gallon jug of his own urine or subdue a gargantuan prehistoric worm (“or graboid”) to save his companions from certain death. No wonder Scott and Reggie feel comfortable returning to their light-entertainment duties, leaving their fate in the trusty hands of Clive and his multi-tool.
Scott gets so comfortable, in fact, that he loses himself in a reverie over Nick Offerman’s lush mustache, as who among us has not? Offerman’s first appearance on the show is a workmanlike outing, competent, confident, and sturdy. While Showalter breaks away from his persona, Offerman plays into his with leisurely assurance whether he’s stolidly plugging his new disaster blockbuster, The Day The Earth Quaked, or offering his extra urine to aid Clive in his efforts.
Additional bits lighten the mood as the entertainers talk away their dwindling supply of oxygen. Scott warmly welcomes Effie Villalopolus (Kate McKinnon), his downstairs neighbor who makes her living sending fellow tenants notes of complaint. (“Every one?” Scott asks incredulously. “Every one. Boom bang bing bing bing, bing bing bang bang boom! That’s me.”) McKinnon exploits her gift for broad physical characterizations here, but the tenderness with which she reads out her passive-aggressive notes strikes me funniest—that and her absurdly laborious entrance, stumbling and wriggling as she clambers over the wreckage.
The second-unit team accompanying CBB intern Monty (Kyle Mooney) as he pranks and taunts passersby for “Scotty Say: Monty Do!” provides a view of the world outside, a chaotic landscape of sirens and hot-dog burns. Scott’s pre-taped segment advising contestants on junk disposal, “Ditch It Or Pitch It,” is reminiscent of “It’s A Tear-Down” but without its repetitive build and punch. Worse, it just doesn’t fit with the rest of the show. The junkyard’s tumble of rubbish faintly resembles the post-earthquake disaster zone, but the whole piece feels disconnected and out of place.
But then, it would, wouldn’t it? Scott, Reggie, and their guests are carrying on through adversity, and a segment taped earlier would reflect none of the ruin or danger around them. Still, it seems a misstep to leave “Ditch It Or Pitch It” so untethered from the rest of the episode.
As David Sims points out, a longtime CBB listener and viewer—or a longtime fan of any show—can get swept up in familiarity and affection and lose perspective on individual episodes. But the show relies on that level of familiarity as it pokes gentle fun at conventional beats and rhythms. Comedy Bang! Bang! affords all the easy pleasures of the entertainment it spoofs, but with a tremor running underfoot to shake things up.
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: After Shockerman
- “Stick a cork in it, ya hatchetface!” That’s Robin Bartlett (American Horror Story: Coven, Mad About You, and Shutter Island) as… well, as Hatchetface, I guess.
- Scott, always the thoughtful host, instructs a professional baseball player on his pitching technique. “Okay, just plant that back foot and then one fluid motion.”
- In “Ron Swanson Off” (Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast #140), Nick Offerman tells a story of a drug-related arrest. In “Nick Offerman Wears A Green Flannel Shirt And Brown Boots,” he tells a story of a drug-related arrest. Readers, is this a callback, a coincidence, or an example of me over-scrutinizing every aspect of the program?