Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 2, Episode 19 Review: “Cobie Smulders Wears a Strapless Black and White Dress”

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Last month, I wrote in my weekly column Sollie’s Jollies about the failed pilot for Conan O’Brien and Robert Smigel’s Lookwell! The show, which followed Adam West as a washed up former TV detective who tried to help solve cases, never made it to series despite having a hilarious, joke-filled pilot. Though O’Brien and Smigel are proud of the pilot – as they should be – in recent years they’ve expressed relief that it wasn’t picked up, because they used up all of their jokes. Basically, it was a one-joke show. The one joke might have been hilarious, but it could never have worked past one episode.

Shows like Comedy Bang! Bang! are lucky (or more precisely, smart) in that they can have a season full of one-joke episodes. They can do a musical episode and pack in every joke they’d ever use in the format, and then spend the next week doing the same thing with alternate realities. Though there is always the loose format of a talk show with guests and sketches, they’re essentially making a new show each week (or at least a very different one). “Cobie Smulders Wears a Strapless Black and White Dress,” the penultimate episode of this season, posited itself as a faux-never-before-seen pilot, and once again Comedy Bang! Bang! wrung every possible laugh out of the premise.

Since Comedy Bang! Bang! is an informal talk show, it was only a matter of time before they tried their hand at producing a by-the-book late night show, complete with a fancy set, monologue, and an overeager band leader. Many of the episode’s laughs came from Comedy Bang! Bang! making fun of the airless and manufactured tone of these shows, specifically The Tonight Show. Phil LaMarr served as the episode’s highlight portraying Scott’s initial bandleader, who eventually was revealed to be a very stupid person. And Scott did arguably his best work of the season making a smooth transition between playing an enthusiastic audience-pleaser, a dismissive interviewer, and eventually, his normal persona, all in just twenty-two minutes.

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If there was a weak point for “Cobie Smulders Wears a Strapless Black and White Dress,” it was the guests. Both Smulders and Zach Woods, who popped up as The Remarkable Greg, were nice additions, earning a few laughs each, but neither were on the episode long enough to make much of an impact. But I don’t consider that too much of a criticism, because this was a packed episode, so something had to be short-sighted. In this case it was the guests. Still, Smulders and Woods both had funny appearances, so they weren’t wasted; they just showed up to be funny and then left.

By the time the episode had ended, and Comedy Bang! Bang! resembled what it is now, with talking animal heads, Reggie as a bandleader, and Scott in his street clothes, I found myself really wanting to watch the next episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! It’s to this show’s credit that it can do a slightly self-serving episode that spends its entire runtime commenting on itself, and by its end I’m left wanting more. Unfortunately, next week is the season finale, meaning it is our last Bang! Bang! until summer 2014. As sad as I am that this is the end, I’m equally happy that what we’ve been given has been this great.