Monday, July 22, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Comedy Bang! Bang! Season 1 (2012) **

TV-14, 10 21-min. episodes
Creator: Scott Aukerman

Director: Benjamin Berman

Writers: Scott Aukerman, Leo Allen, Neil Campbell, Dave Ferguson, Tim Kalpakis, Erin Keating, Dan Pasternack

Starring: Scott Aukerman, Reggie Watts

Special guests: Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Ed Helms, Elizabeth Banks, Adam Scott, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic

Guest starring: Andrew Daly, Will Forte, David Koechner, Nick Kroll, Leo Allen, Paul F. Tompkins, Bob Odenkirk, Casey Wilson, James Adomian, Matt Besser, Seth Morris, Owen Burke, David Wain, Jon Daly, Tim Heidecker, Jon Heder, Jack Black, Kyle Gass, Kerri Kenny, David Cross, Will Arnett, Topher Grace, Chris Parnell

If you haven’t been introduced to the world of comedy podcasts, then IFC’s television talk show—or maybe it should be called a mock show—may not be for you. “Comedy Bang! Bang!” is a long running comedy podcast during which host Scott Aukerman sits down to interview one real guest star each week and is interrupted by any number of revolving fake guests in an improvisational format.

His fake guests include well-known comedians doing impersonations of people, like Werner Herzog, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ice-T, and Cake Boss and original characters as well. His real guests are usually fairly big name television and movie stars like Andy Samberg, Jon Hamm, Amy Poehler and so on. While these improvisations often include funny moments, they frequently stretch the bounds of comedic entertainment in unstructured searches for comedy over an hour-long period.

The television show is pretty much the same thing except that it is scripted and runs a mere 21 minutes thanks to commercials and programming structure and such. The comedy still consists of the same off the cuff nature, however; and it doesn’t always work so well. There are more uncomfortable moments than knee slapping ones. The real guests often are assaulted with strangeness and must act as if they don’t know just why they are on the show. If they weren’t all in on the joke from the start, I’m sure they would wonder.

This is comedy for the advanced comedy expert, not for the casual laugher. I think it will improve in its second season, which just got underway at IFC. That first season has a distinct sense of a comedian feeling out his new venue and new material. Now that Aukerman and crew are used to the television format, I think they’ll be able to better discern what works for TV and what doesn’t. Let’s hope so.

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