Reviews

Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 4: Episodes 16-20 Review

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Comedy Bang! Bang! was never the easiest show to review. But I’ve stuck with it, because it’s not a show enough people are writing or talking about. When it was announced that the show’s fourth season would contain forty episodes, I knew I wouldn’t be able to write forty individual reviews. Therefore, I’m reviewing Comedy Bang! Bang! season four five episodes at a time.

Below are my reviews for episodes sixteen through twenty.

“Skylar Astin Wears Blue Jeans and Weathered Brown Desert Boots”

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I guess it’s only fitting that a week after hardly registering in Pitch Perfect 2, Skylar Astin makes a forgettable appearance on Comedy Bang! Bang!. Astin is an undeniably talented singer and dancer, and the first Pitch Perfect showed he can be funny, but the triple-threat brings none of those qualities to his time on the couch. But even if Astin had made a good impression he still would’ve been steamrolled by Lennon Parham, who brings her Forsythia character from the podcast to the screen in an interview is terrific from the second she sits down. Despite being a frequent guest on the podcast, this is Parham’s first time on the CBB couch, and she makes a debut to remember, reading dedications from oddball radio listeners and giving plenty of airplay to Hoobastank. Her appearance, along with the solidly funny The Maker-Upper reality show and goofy education through line, make “Skylar Astin Wears Blue Jeans and Weathered Brown Desert Boots” a very good episode, with the guy in the title being its least notable aspect.

“Michael Sheen Wears a Plaid Button Down and Grey Blazer”

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It’s always nice to see established dramatic actors popping up in comedy projects. It’s even nicer when they show up and are funny. Such is the case with Michael Sheen’s appearance in “Michael Sheen Wears a Plaid Button Down and Grey Blazer,” where he’s actually the best thing about it. The Wonky Cat/Hero Scott stuff acts as mostly filler, and Brendon Small’s Victor Diamond character instills the episode with a healthy dose of weirdness, but the laughs all come from the main interview with Sheen. Scott heads down delightfully odd avenues during their talk, but Sheen always keeps up, and even goes out on his own during his big performance and explanation of the “Birds and the Bees.” There have been episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! that were funny despite a lackluster main interview. In this case, however, it’s Michael Sheen’s time on the couch that makes “Michael Sheen Wears a Plaid Button Down and Grey Blazer” worth watching.

“Thomas Middleditch Wears an Enigmatic Sweatshirt and Sweatpants with Pockets”

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The only reason Thomas Middleditch appears on Comedy Bang! Bang! as the main guest and not as a goofy character is the popularity of Silicon Valley. Middleditch is more Paul F. Tompkins or Lauren Lapkus than Michael Sheen or Jack Black, and that results in an interview in which Middleditch is pretty much playing a character. No Comedy Bang! Bang! interview is genuine, but few people know Middleditch outside of Silicon Valley and some other small roles, and that freedom lets him change up his personality or delivery with each bit. Middleditch’s interview is so good – the best of the season so far – that by the time Lauren Lapkus comes out as Harmony Moonglass and does a riff on the Mr. Show “Audition” sketch, “Thomas Middleditch Wears an Enigmatic Sweatshirt and Sweatpants with Pockets” becomes an embarrassment of riches. Tying it all together is the Brody South Dakotee business, which doesn’t distract from the two excellent interviews, and gives three young performers what would be lines-of-the-night in any other episode.

“Karen Gillan Wears a Black and White Striped Pullover and Coral Skirt”

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After juxtaposing exaggerated versions of the old guard of comedy writers (out-of-touch grandpas who are grumpy and gross) and the new kids (Harvard intellectuals writing for pats on the back), Comedy Bang! Bang! makes some silly jokes and “Karen Gillan Wears a Black and White Striped Pullover and Coral Skirt” ends. There’s no point to be made regarding the different generations of comedy writers, because Comedy Bang! Bang! isn’t a show looking to make points or take shots. It’s a show written by people looking to tell jokes, perhaps the best quality for comedy writers, and aside from the Comedy Bang! Bang! Mail Bag (a rare dud), their humble mission succeeds with this episode. As for the guests, Karen Gillan proves to be an enthusiastic one, giving an interview seemingly designed for being repurposed on Tumblr via endless gifs. John Gemberling’s human trafficker character takes things to a very dark place – either Scott is acting well here or he was not tipped off to Groiny’s vile business practices – and is the source of the episode’s biggest laughs.

“Judd Apatow Wears a Polo and Blue Suede Shoes”

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Pay no attention to the title, “Judd Apatow Wears a Polo and Blue Suede Shoes.” This is Reggie Watts’ episode. Aside from a brief, lightly funny interview with Apatow, Comedy Bang! Bang! does away with any distractions, including sketches or a character guest, to send off Reginald in a fitting manner. Even though I’m excited and hopeful for Comedy Bang! Bang!’s future without him, Reggie was a valued member of the show, a mix of silliness and musical talent that you just wanted to hug. It’s fitting, then, that Comedy Bang! Bang!, a show that takes very little seriously, gets slightly sentimental in saying goodbye to him. The episode is all about the connection between Scott and Reggie, whose interplay was always so natural and even sweet, and you can feel the real Scott speaking to the real Reggie in their final scenes together. “Judd Apatow Wears a Polo and Blue Suede Shoes” is not a funny episode (though there are certainly laughs – including the repeated mentions of President Obama ordering that Reggie’s alien penis be dissected), and that feels by design. Comedy Bang! Bang! has twenty more episodes this season in which it can go for laughs, and another twenty in the recently announced season five. But Reggie doesn’t, and while that is sad, Reggie Watts will live on, Comedy Bang! Bang! will live on, and I’m plenty satisfied at how the two parted ways.