Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 2, Episode 12 Review: “Pee-Wee Herman Wears A Halloween Costume”

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Comedy Bang! Bang! has always felt like a mix between Mr. Show and Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, so it was only a matter of time before the two passionately embraced. As a fan of Pee-Wee Herman from his original show all the way to his recent Broadway special, this was a meeting of the minds I was very much looking forward to. High expectations can often hurt films and shows, especially comedies, but Scott Aukerman’s reverence for Pee-Wee Herman is so strong (and so evident) that I fully expected Herman’s appearance in “Pee-Wee Herman Wears A Halloween Costume” to be one of the season’s highlights. And due to that reverence, plus the acting/writing talents of Paul Reubens (who scripted the Pee-Wee bits with Paul Rust), “Pee-Wee Herman Wears A Halloween Costume” is a very funny episode that honors the comedic icon.

Even though Pee-Wee Herman is the episode’s lone guest, and is therefore on it for most of its run-time, the biggest laugh came only a few seconds into his appearance when he called his boots a surprisingly vulgar term. While Pee-Wee Herman has always worked as a character for children, he’s also found success with older audiences. Because let’s be honest – what hard working family man or woman doesn’t get a giggle out of hearing occasionally dark and immature comments come from a polite man-child in a cowboy costume? (Answer: There is no such person.)

Pee-Wee’s appearance is a different one for the show, not just because of its length, but also due to how in command Paul Reubens is once he enters the episode. Scott and Reggie both get to play off Pee-Wee at certain points, but it feels like Comedy Bang! Bang! becomes Pee-Wee’s Playhouse with the two of them as guests. I’m sure that’s not accidental; when you book Yo-Yo Ma you don’t just have him play the theme song. This was an opportunity to let Reubens play around in an old beloved character (hopefully in preparation for the new Pee-Wee film that’s still supposedly happening), and Scott and Reggie understandably let him do his thing.

It might have been a good idea to have Pee-Wee on the entire episode, because everything surrounding his appearance was not nearly as strong. One of the biggest improvements in season two have been the sketches, which are commonly the highlights of each episode. Here, the yodeling contest works, but “Scotcha Gotcha” and “Cookie Memories” don’t. Both feel like first-draft sketches, where there is potential but not much in the execution. Each one ends well, which is nothing to scoff at, but the laughs shouldn’t just be in the final few seconds.

Still, a few undercooked sketches don’t hurt what’s otherwise a delightful and hilarious Halloween episode for Comedy Bang! Bang! (or in this case, Comedy Fang! Fang!). Even when the show doesn’t work it provides laughs, and when it does work – which is more than most of the time – it’s hilarious.

The Birthday Boys Mini-Review: IFC’s new sketch show improves on its already solid premiere with its second episode, “Goofy Roofers.” With a number of funny sketches, including the hilarious wrap-around that gets better as it goes on, this episode makes a strong case for The Birthday Boys being be a show to watch going forward. Score: 9/10