This week’s Comedy Bang! Bang! deserves a pat on the back simply for the mere act of its perfect scheduling. It’s a Halloween episode on Halloween, and for that, it should be praised. Let’s take a quick pause for applause. Now that all of that applause has been given out, it’s time to talk about the actual episode, which is like a reviewer who wants to make a brick joke but didn’t think one through before writing the sentence: absolutely delightful.
“Wayne Coyne Wears A Halloween Costume” is framed with the punning witticisms of the Bookkeeper, brother to the infamous Crypt Keeper, the Goalkeeper, and the Zookeeper (the “grossest brother” of the bunch, which leads to the obvious but perfect sight gag of the Kevin James picture). He has four stories to tell, all coincidentally in the chronological order that would make up a “typical” episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! What follows is so much wordplay in his segments (as well as the episode as a whole) that it would be insane to try to properly list all of it here in this review. But there’s no harm in trying:
- “I prefer doing the payroll to seeing heads roll. I’d much rather reimburse expenses than watch murders that are senseless. I’d prefer to see the friendly faces at H&R Block than see a face with a scar from a rock. Do you get what I’m going for? I like it when my new checkbook is ready, not when my Krueger is Freddy.”
- “I’d rather see a 10 cent price than see Vincent Price.”
- “I’d rather work on my taxes than watch someone get worked over by axes…I’d rather deal with accounts payable than a count slay a bull…You see, my favorite day is April the 15th, not Friday the 13th.”
“A face with a scar from a rock” is next level when it comes to terrible wordplay.
One of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s strengths as a television show is its ability to cram as many jokes and reference as it possibly can in 20-plus minute episode while still making it all matter. “Wayne Coyne” is filled to the brim and bubbling over with jokes and references, and at no point is any of it a wasted moment that doesn’t fit into the theme of the episode and the story that it’s trying to tell. This is an advantage that the series has over the podcast, its ability to structure the program around its intentional callbacks and jokes that build on themselves (while also keeping that effortless, loose feeling from the podcast).
In terms of the Bookkeeper framing device, this episode is actually rather reminiscent of the countdown show from the also excellent “Lizzy Caplan Wears All Black And Powder Blue Espadrilles.” Remember the deadpan way in which the show skewered countdown shows? The same goes here with the Bookkeeper and his incessant need for terrible wordplay (“Do you get what I’m going for?”).
As a youth, the Cryptkeeper was the epitome of terrifying to me. But when you’re old enough to think about it, he’s nothing more than a rotting corpse dummy who makes terrible “spooky” jokes. Honestly, the Cryptkeeper is like the equivalent of someone who halfheartedly changes his or her Twitter or Tumblr name for the sake of Halloween season. So here in “Wayne Coyne,” Comedy Bang! Bang! goes with an interesting way to poke fun at the nostalgia for such a joke of a fear-inducing character without being absolutely dismissive of the concept outright of said nostalgia. Comedy Bang! Bang! is at its best when it takes a bunch of genres and just goes for it—calling them out, pointing out how much it knows about them, and putting a new, strangely specific twist on an old joke.
In the talk show aspect of the episode, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne follows the trend of surprisingly hilarious musician guests thanks to his dry delivery and go-with-the flow attitude. It’s something that didn’t quite work in Steven Yeun’s guest appearance in last week’s episode but clicks perfectly here. From Wayne Coyne’s Halloween costume (Carrie, from Carrie) to his inventive storytelling ability (whether it’s in the form of candy bars or “scary” movies he saw on TV, like The Lord Of The Rings) to his Edgar Allan Poe-inspired guilt over stealing Reggie’s new favorite thing in the world and fourth favorite possession, his sampler machine, Coyne is an absolutely perfect guest for this episode.
The best part is that it’s not just a matter of the framing device and a great guest that makes this episode work so well. This is a jam-packed episode that also features: multiple homicides, children dressed as dice, a head writer trapped in basement by a brick barrier, Wayne’s World costumes, Beatles/beetles jokes (those other lovable lads from Liverpool, in the case of the former), the death of Scott and his/his sister’s child (also: “Bye Zeeeeek!”), a case of mistaken identity that leads to a couple of those previously mentioned multiple homicides, and Tig Notaro.
Strangely—which is a word that should probably be used much more often when it comes to this show—this might be one of the more accessible episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang!, especially to those who find themselves more interested in the podcast. This episode doesn’t rely on the man on the street bits or anything outside the studio, instead just sticking straight to wordplay and the comic timing of its players. (It’s not a solo bolo, but as we all know, those are rare.) It’s a remarkably quotable episode too, and if you can overlook Comedy Bang! Bang!’s existence as a show seemingly outside the standard plane of televisual existence, it fits perfectly in the pantheon of shows that end up on lists about what to watch on Halloween.
The first half of season three was an absurd exercise in unearned self-congratulations, but this second half isn’t as easy to define yet. “Wayne Coyne” is the type of episode that really shows that Comedy Bang! Bang!’s writers put in an enormous amount of effort into the work they put out, so maybe all of that self-congratulations is indeed earned. This episode fires on all cylinders, from the chemistry between Scott and Wayne to the very idea that Scott is a psychopath who literally buries the competition and fires his brother-in-law without any thought to the child-killing consequences. That’s what Comedy Bang! Bang! is all about.
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Wayne Campbell, in honor of Scott’s Halloween costume as Wayne Campbell from Wayne’s World. Also, Reggie as Garth is so appropriate that I can’t believe it took three seasons for it to happen.
- On the topic of nostalgia-inducing material that could use some skewering, Scott and Reggie’s Wayne’s World costumes and interactions early in the episode actually reminded me of the terrible Wayne’s World spoof from a terrible movie I’ve seen too many terrible times, Stay Tuned.
- On another personal level, I really missed this show during the hiatus and am so excited to get back to reviewing it with my partners, Emily and David. I know you all missed me too, especially since I haven’t gotten to talk about how subjective humor is in a while. Unless you count some moments during The Strain.
- I know the implication is that Comedy Bang! Bang! couldn’t afford the Crypt Keeper, but I choose to believe that Kevin James is actually who they wanted to host the Halloween special.
- I already can’t wait to see Brick Kroll and Wall F. Tompkins costumes in Silverlake next Halloween.
- Allan McCleod’s appearance as the non-Creepy husband is all the reason I need to rewatch the absolutely perfect You’re The Worst soon.
- Comedy 101: The combination of “We did that.”/“Okay.” to signal the end of Wayne’s World spoof and the “I get that joke…I get that joke too.” responses to Reggie’s specific possession references are another great example of how Comedy Bang! Bang! tackles “Remember that?!”-based humor (some might call it Robot Chicken or Family Guy humor).
- The Bookkeeper: “After they were both stabbed, I bet their bodies were really seepy… Eh? CPA? Get it, guys?”
- Wayne Coyne: “I’m the character that Sissy Spacek plays in the movie—”
Scott: “Coal Miner’s Daughter!”
Wayne Coyne: “—Carrie.”
- I would be remiss not to mention the MaCaulay Culkin Home Alone scream from the shaving cream prank bit. So now I’ve mentioned it.
- The biggest laugh of the episode for me that doesn’t come from wordplay—and this is an episode that is 96% wordplay, I calculated—comes from one of the post-commercial random conversations that are present in every episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!
Wayne Coyne: “…and that’s why ‘Monster Mash’ was our wedding song.”
Scott: “Oh, really?”
Wayne Coyne: “What was yours?”
Scott: “Oh it was ‘Brick’ by Ben Folds Five.”
Proof that I have no soul? Probably. But it’s so perfectly out of nowhere and appropriately dark for a Halloween episode (and life, in general).
- So now there’s only one way to wrap this all up: