Now there’s that uncomfortable line between “ironic hipster comedy” and just plain nonsense. With the first two episodes of this fourth season of Comedy Bang! Bang! being a return to the form, it makes sense to assume that streak would continue. Rapper Schoolboy Q is an out-of-left-field choice for a guest, but “out-of-left-field” really just describes Comedy Bang! Bang! and its particular brand of comedy. Being a comedian isn’t a prerequisite for having a good episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! (“Wayne Coyne Wears A Halloween Costume” was one of the best episodes of season three, after all), but it does make it an uphill battle if the guest isn’t from that world.
In the case of Schoolboy Q, the problem is the fact that the rapper is very much on the cusp of being a great guest throughout most of the episode, but his laid-back nature actually works to his and the episode’s detriment. “Schoolboy Q Wears a Patterned Bucket Hat and Glasses” is a great example of how dangerous a show can be when it’s largely improvised; it can be too loose and, as a result, rough around the edges. It would be one thing if Comedy Bang! Bang! were a new show that hasn’t proven itself yet, but at this point in the series, the episode’s roughness makes it an outlier. Comedy Bang! Bang! is a show that succeeds partially because of how slick and smooth the presentation is, and unfortunately, the combination of guests (for the talk show portion) and the upsettingly present green screen in this episode brings that all down. It feels like an amateur production from these professionals and not in an ironic humor way.
Comparing the episode to jazz doesn’t make the roughness go down better.
Also, I’m not the type of person who regularly slams a comedian for breaking during a bit, but in this instance, Horatio Sanz loses his composure so much that he can’t even maintain the Aaron Neville voice or character. Unlike Maya and Scott’s reaction to Maria Bamford’s Claire Coulter character in the previous episode, it’s difficult to stay invested or interested in the character or anything he’s saying. Scott tries his best to keep the energy up, but there’s nothing he can do about it, and it doesn’t look like anyone involved really cares.
Associate Professor Ecks: “E-C-K-S. My parents named me after their favorite film character, Jeremiah Ecks from Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever.”
Reggie: “Didn’t that movie come out only 13 years ago?”
Associate Professor Ecks: “Yes, they changed my name the day after it came out. I was an adult and it was very disruptive to my life.”
It’s obvious watching this episode that the majority of the effort put into making it came in the form of the X-Men/Ecks’ Men setup, and for that, everything else really falls to the way side. Again, there are no out-of-studio bits or fake trailers, so if the audience isn’t connecting with the talk show guests, there’s really no escape from that until the moments when Ecks’ Men material is brought up again. The blatant X-Men riff feels like something everyone involved had an insane amount of fun making, but it also falls victim to some of the sloppiness of the episode; the veiled “normal people” descriptor is quick to become “human,” long before Comedy Bang! Bang! just says “screw it” and Reggie’s adamantium claws come out to play. Still, this entire plot is the highlight of the episode, with the thinly veiled X-Men proxy characters leading to more and more light-hearted groans.
Musicians as mutants make a lot of sense, especially when it comes to nü-metal (Reggie’s song with The Brotherhood, “Where the nookies at? / I did it all for a cookie,” is pretty amazing), and the whole plot succeeds in becoming progressively more ridiculous within the context of the show (but not within the Marvel universe). Reggie massacring musicians with his Wolverine claws just feels right, as does Ecks walking out of the wheelchair. (Sadly, the post-credits scene is more miss than hit.) The sloppiness of all of this works in a bizarre way that the sloppiness of everything else in the episode just doesn’t.
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Stop Gapperman
- Apologies from all of us in the CBB Trio for the delay on this review. Life happens, you know? You know.
- This is as good a spot as any to say R.I.P. The Birthday Boys. I got to review the second season finale, an episode of television that got me really excited for what the guys and show would do next. At least I can still be psyched about what the guys do next. (Perhaps all guest star on this show à la The Lonely Island?)
- It’s community colleges battling because of Jim Rash’s presence, right? Right.
- I don’t mention it in the review, but Chris Parnell is absolutely fantastic as the Magneto of the piece, Melodio.
- The more I think about it, the more I find the Flea member of The Brotherhood (clearly a riff on Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers) to be the type of joke you’d find in a Seltzer and Friedberg movie. In fact, the Ecks’ Men plot is dangerously close to crossing that line.
- Ecks: “Reggie, what you need to understand is jazz is like improv comedy. You make it up as you go, you build off of each other, and white college kids love it. Yes, jazz owes a great deal to improv comedy.”
- Schoolboy Q: “Shit weird on this show, huh?”
Scott: “I’ve never noticed.”
- Jack McBrayer shows up to register the battling bands for band camp, because it’s not Ecks’ Men without Holocaust undertones. (“Sorry I’m so bad at phrasing things. Bye.”)
- Scott: “You’ve joined a terrorist faction.”
Aaron Neville: “Oh, it’s not the first time this has happened, Scott Aukerman.”