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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Comedy Bang! Bang! teaches the world a valuable lesson about what’s cooler than being cool

Illustration for article titled iComedy Bang! Bang!/i teaches the world a valuable lesson about what’s cooler than being cool
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While Comedy Bang! Bang! is able to be weird all within the confines of the talk show set, five seasons of the series have shown that the world in which it exists is endlessly fascinating. That’s not even keeping in mind the fact that aliens exists, as does time travel—the simple fact that Comedy Bang! Bang! takes place in an alternate, more exaggerated version of the television industry provides the series with so many fascinating creative options. “Jesse Tyler Ferguson Wears A Brown Checked Shirt And Stripey Socks” focused on Scott Aukerman being torn between two worlds, his weird talk show-sitcom-sketch comedy show and his classic family sitcom. “Eddie George Wears A Navy Suit And Half-zip Pullover” brought the world of televised sports into the Comedy Bang! Bang! universe with Sports Circumference. And of course, the series as a whole has long made fodder of the very concept of late night talk shows.

“Tony Hale Wears A Blue Flannel Shirt And Fuchsia Sneakers” doesn’t just list those shows (and more) and how they exist in the Comedy Bang! Bang! world, it creates a class hierarchy for them. So of course the sexy teen show gets at the top of the social ecosystem of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s world (the Sulliverse?). The entire episode is even like one of a sexy teen show—a sexy supernatural teen show, to be exact.


The sexy supernatural teen show in question is Teenage Werewolf, and honestly, Comedy Bang! Bang! is already on fire before it even gets to the meat of the story, just by virtue of completely nailing the Teen Wolf-parody series. The Teen Wolf font, the ambiance, the poster—it’s all perfect. As is the casting of the sexy supernatural teens themselves; there’s Chris Wood (who has sexy supernatural teen drama cred from his terrific performance as the big bad in The Vampire Diaries’ sixth season) as the leader of the teenage werewolf pack, as well as Samantha Logan (who appeared as one of the many villains in Teen Wolf’s fourth season) as the lady member of the pack. The commercial bit for Teenage Werewolf also captures both the spirit of how “serious” everything must be in both Teen Wolf and shows (and honestly, even movies) of its ilk, as well as how dense the shows can be with everything being the most intense thing ever… in just the first five minutes.

Plus, as we all know, television characters are their actors (and vice versa), and as such, the Teenage Werewolf cast howl, have super speed, and a (very adorable) “werewolf mode.” Comedy Bang! Bang! just understands this.

The rest of the episode focuses more on the teen genre as a whole, essentially going the Degrassi route of Scott becoming a cool kid and leaving behind all his uncool friends (the nameless crew, Slow Joey, and “Weird Al,” who is also the “new kid” in the school of the Sulliverse), complete with cool affectations like a leather jacket and holding human feces in order to prank uncool friends. It’s all a lesson about what it means to be cool, and as it turns out, being yourself still isn’t cool. Being cool is. Or something. The message is pretty muddled, in true Comedy Bang! Bang! fashion. But at the same time, Comedy Bang! Bang! has always made it clear that its Scott Aukerman is a jerk, cool or not—all that’s changed here is the framing device.


The guests this week also keep the episode on the up-and-up. Tony Hale’s role as celebrity guest isn’t anything too outside-the-box—even his asides during act outs and act ins aren’t on the all-time funniest or weirdest—but what works about it is how very good he is with the little things. Here, it’s moments like him falling asleep on the couch (in quite the awkward position) because he’s not involved with the framing device at all the time, his dancing (along with Scott) to the musical introduction from “Weird Al,” and even his interactions with Big Sue. Of course, big moments are good too, like hitting Mike Hanford with a 61 mph fastball and his crowning achievement, abbreviated terms (like “veep,” a term he apparently created):

Like most things in life, it’s all for a “vape” joke.

Then there’s Big Sue, another Lauren Lapkus Comedy Bang! Bang! character. I had the chance to see Lauren Lapkus do Big Sue at the start of the Comedy Bang! Bang! live tour, and for a character I never really cared about in her previous podcast appearance, she—and her partner-in-crime that night, Paul F. Tomkins’ Werner Herzog/Doug—created one of the most compelling love stories in Comedy Bang! Bang! history. So seeing the character on the show in this abridged version is somewhat of a disappointment, but that tends to be a true symptom of the podcast-to-show translation: As great as the characters are on either, the podcast has the advantage of fleshing them out with its length way more than the show ever could in the few minutes they have on TV. However, Big Sue’s very distinct looks are made for the screen, and her Carpets Rugs Down There schilling deserves the visual reactions of both Tony Hale and Scott Aukerman. Plus, her backstory about never meeting her mom but meeting her dad “every day” (because of Alzheimer’s and him conceiving her at age 85) is the best kind of ridiculous. Basically, Big Sue is very much a right time, right place character in this episode.


And last but not least is the out-of-studio bit in this episode, Scott Aukerman’s new game show, You Made Your Bed, Now Lie In It. Really, by this point, the Sulliverse should know better than to give Scott a game show: Remember Don’t Look A Gift Horse In The Mouth? There’s something so delightfully weird about how the contestants (one of which is played by 12 Monkeys star Aaron Stanford) react to Scott’s announcement that the beds don’t need to be made in any special way or that they can get help. Each time, there feels like a short beat of them slightly questioning why they’re on this show, but instead, they always just proceed to either make messy beds or get help. There’s also the very specific detail about the contestants all being baristas—like all of the dental hygienists in season one of Burning Love—because that’s just supposedly the demographic of people who would be on a show like this. But the kicker is the spot-on casting of Jon Polito as “retired Chicago homicide detective” Frank O’Brien, who in a very Comedy Bang! Bang!-esque twist is hit with the one case he could never solve, that of “the Southside Strangler”(Eddie Pepitone). Comedy Bang! Bang! does a lot of things well, and these types of bits are the cream of the crop.

That and puppies.

Stray observations

  • Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Poe Dameron. Nerd alert. Oh wait…
  • When “Weird Al” names his famous best friends—and hopefully he continues doing similar things in the future, as Kid Cudi’s star was also a great part of his bandleader character—he names Prince as one, and it hurts. When did both versions of Comedy Bang! Bang! start mentioning Prince so much?!?
  • Slow Joey is such a specific, dullard of a character, and I feel like Haley Joel Osment doesn’t get enough praise for the role. So here’s some praise for Haley Joel Osment.
  • “Werewolf mode” is apparently the most adorable thing that can ever happen.
  • Caves & Chameleons doesn’t sound less nerdy than Dungeons & Dragons, but it definitely sounds less challenging.
  • Scott’s “Is this how you always talk?” about Judge Faith’s (#JudgeFaith) entire no-nonsense TV judge schtick is pretty great—as is that whole bit—but it also just reminds me of this.
  • “bigsue@yahoo.poo” is so dumb, but it just feel right.

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