Finally, Comedy Big Bang Theory meets The Big Bang Theory. As far as episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! go, this one is certainly the most recent.
“Simon Helberg Wears A Sky Blue Button Down And Jeans” is an episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! that really benefits from not just being an out-right parody of a movie and instead relying more on the humor within. Then again, military movies are truly my pop culture blind spot, so even with what I know about the genre and any possible homage, I refuse to call myself an expert on the subject.*
The episode begins simply enough, as most episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! do, as the Network President (David Alan Grier) enlists the help of drill sergeant Major Aikens (Tom Lister, Jr. or Zeus) to whip Reggie and Scott into shape before the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Mooselager (Craig Anton) arrives. The guys have turned the studio into a pig sty like a couple of children, so of course the appropriate Comedy Bang! Bang! punishment is disproportionate. Scott puts it best:
Scott: “God, this guy is meaner than Beetle Bailey.”
Reggie: “Is Beetle Bailey mean?”
Scott: “I don’t know, he’s not funny.”
It leads to an ‘80s style training montage, which makes as much sense as the idea of a talk show host and his sidekick assassinating their boss/a terrorist/The Cobra, and is just as entertaining. It’s certainly a “You gotta laugh” situation, and that’s the case for this entire episode. That’s because “Simon Helberg Wears A Sky Blue Button And Jeans” is the most absurd (and not necessarily in a fantastical way) episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s fourth season so far. While last week’s “Eddie George Wears A Navy Suit And Half-zip Pullover” is a more tightly-made episode, with a fully-structured framing device throughout, “Simon Helberg Wears A Sky Blue Button And Jeans” excels in being more go-with-the-flow, succeeding at that approach in a way that “Schoolboy Q Wears A Patterned Bucket Hat And Glasses” episode did not.
It’s often nice just to watch Comedy Bang! Bang! and not have to think too much about the intricacies behind every joke, and that’s really the biggest positive about the episode. Simon Helberg is instantly game for the strange bits that Scott and Reggie are known for, whether it’s a supposed motion sensor couch or a robot or human test, and he’s not afraid to be even weirder (while making it seem normal, like installing cameras in the men’s restroom). Plus, after last episode’s comedy versus jocks narrative, the fact that this episode doesn’t pile on jokes about The Big Bang Theory (and all of its bazinga and nerdiness) is a pleasant subversion of the expectation. That actually opens the playing field up for so much more, even though Helberg is not used to his fullest capacity in this episode.
Despite how game Simon Helberg is as a guest, Matt Jones is the one who steals the entire episode, turning it from good to great and maybe even a little classic. Jones’ turn as author Shiloh Huffington is a joy to watch, and it only becomes more beautiful as it continues. The fact that the bit doesn’t peak at his book being an unofficial oral history about Comedy Bang! Bang! is absolutely amazing. This is perhaps the perfect example of the power of improv in the world of Comedy Bang! Bang!, with Jones taking the concept of “Yes, And…” to a whole other level for the show. He rolls with the ridiculous concept of his ex-girlfriend being deaf (“Olive juice.”), then he himself being deaf, and wraps it up with is ex-girlfriend also being Canadian. It’s strange, and it’s nonsense, but it’s the type of bit and tangent that could easily find its way on an episode of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast, which is truly one of the best things you can say about an episode guest.
As a lifelong fan of (and expert in) the teen genre, the Dirty Little Weasels segment in this episode is the one that truly speaks to me. As it becomes more ridiculous and the episode titles become progressively more Yiddish—all building to the final clip shown, from the episode “A Shaynem Dank dir im Pupik” (which translates to “many thanks in your belly button” or “thanks for nothing”)—it just feels right. It obviously speaks more directly to the ultimate teen drama of the past, Dawson’s Creek, with the dialogue being completely unrealistic for the characters and clearly being written by the adults (mostly men) who as far from teen aged as they could possibly be. But watching this, there’s also a bit of shadow of the Newsreaders episodes of Childrens Hospital in these clips for what is supposedly a hit television show (even if, in this instance, the audience watches it on mute).
And then there’s the tag, with the Canadian Prime Minister finally making his much-awaited appearance and debuting Canada’s new slogan. Had this been a part of “Ty Burrell Wears A Chambray Shirt And Clear Frame Glasses,” it would probably cause that Jenga game of dad jokes to topple over. But closing out this delightfully strange episode, an example of simple wordplay becomes another exceptionally funny moment:
“CANADA. You can rearrange some of the vowels and it still spells ‘CANADA’!”
It’s an anti-climactic conclusion to an episode that already goes for the anti-climactic conclusion to the Sergeant Aikens story (he was a broomstick the whole time!), and it’s absolutely appropriate for such an absurd episode. Comedy Bang! Bang! has done a good job of trying to outdo itself with every episode for the past couple of seasons, and while that’s admirable and welcome, not every episode has to be a big time event. “Simon Helberg Wears A Sky Blue Button Down Jeans” is proof of that, even if the episode itself is “not for the faint of heart.”
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Ed Hardyman, with the frills to boot
- *I guess you can call me the June Diane Raphael of this three-headed monster known as Comedy Bang! Bang! coverage. Also, I apologize for having such a blind spot, but it’s rare for the war genre (or at least a subset of the genre) to appeal to me. But based on the character name, I’m going to go with Major Payne as a safe bet.
- I can’t say I ever watched iCarly or Sam And Cat, but I can say I appreciate Jennette McCurdy being game to poke fun at the tween talent factory that she came from, both here and on The Birthday Boys.
- Scott (pointing out the problems with Othies): “Eh, I don’t know. It doesn’t look enough like me.”
- Reggie: “I think there’s something at the bottom.”
Scott: “That’s where Drake started!” The best part of the joke is how wide-eyed Scott is when he says that—with the innocence of a child.
- FROM THE DESK OF THE COBRA: “1. Build a bomb. 2. Blow up Canadian Prime Minister.”
- The creator of Dirty Little Weasels (Michael Lerner) is also responsible for such classics as Charlie’s Cherubs, Ungrateful Island, and Starsky With Hookers.
- Shiloh: “Candice is Canadian!”