Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Alison Brie Wears a Black Mesh Top & Mini-Skirt” Review

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Comedy Bang! Bang! has taken time for tongue-in-cheek backpatting this season, even devoting episodes to fond remembrances of the show like the faux series finale and the Top 10 Countdown. It makes sense then that season three would also have episodes where Comedy Bang! Bang! is openly criticized. Scott and Reggie already had to alter their show last week to please a bored and mischievous child named Leland, and they encountered something similar in “Alison Brie Wears a Black Mesh Top & Mini-Skirt.”

As I wrote last week, Leland didn’t work for me. It wasn’t that the character was too broad, or that he didn’t fit in the episode. Ultimately, I think the blame goes to the child actor. Tonight’s episode introduced Giles Duggard, a character just as broad and loud as Leland, yet I enjoyed him. What made the difference was the performance. James Adomian, who played Duggard, is an established comedian who frequently portrays loud, vulgar characters on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast. Because of his experience, commandeering tonight’s show as a screaming, profane Gordon Ramsey knock-off wasn’t even a challenge. I would’ve liked for more to have been more done with the reality show format, but that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of Adomian’s appearance.

Alison Brie had already been wonderful on the podcast, and she brought the same openness and charm to her episode. She wasn’t able to do much besides be open and charming, but she had several small inspired moments, like her reaction to being left alone with Werner Herzog. As has been the case with other podcast-to-show characters, Herzog’s appearance was an abbreviated version of his podcast appearances. It was still enjoyable, thanks in no small part to getting to see Paul F. Tompkins (with no mustache!) trying not to laugh instead of just hearing him wheeze off microphone. Still, it would’ve been preferable had Herzog’s appearance been original. Tompkins is one of our best improvisers and has appeared as Herzog on numerous shows numerous times. I doubt it would’ve been a struggle for him to craft new laughs from the character instead of going through a brief “greatest hits.” Hopefully he’ll eventually make a return appearance and be allowed to say some things I haven’t heard before.

I’ve pointed out some problems with “Alison Brie Wears a Black Mesh Top & Mini-Skirt,” but the big one was the “30 for 30” spoof. The concept was strong and visually well realized, but besides the ending, which I liked, the jokes weren’t there. This episode needed something great to elevate the rest that was good, and this didn’t do it. It didn’t bring down the episode, but it certainly didn’t help it either.

Next week is the mid-season finale of Comedy Bang! Bang!. These past two episodes haven’t that strong, so I’m hoping for a great episode to tide us over until the fall. “Alison Brie Wears a Black Mesh Top & Mini-Skirt” had plenty to like, but I’m looking for something to love.