There’s a case to be made that ‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’ is both the smartest and dumbest show on television.
Dumbest because, well, just watch it. Most segments of this faux-talk show are a mix of terrible jokes with even worse non-jokes. In a conversation about SNL’s “Digital Shorts,” host Scott Aukerman asks Andy Samberg if he’s ever used the pickup line, “Hey, can I put these digits in YOUR shorts?” (Sandberg’s immediate, deadpan response: “All the time”). Premises are introduced then ignored, or twisted into bizarre bits, like bandleader Reggie Watts attempting to read tweets and ending up in the Tron world battling against Lance Reddick (‘The Wire’, ‘Fringe’) to procure said tweets. Transitions are sudden and without notice. It’s unclear exactly how much of the show is improvised, though if I had to guess, I’d put it at about 90%. There’s no live audience or laugh track, so the show itself proceeds in fits and starts, with no indication of what is and is not a joke (spoiler: everything is a joke). Hell, the official title of this episode is, “Andy Samberg Wears a Plaid Shirt and Glasses,” which, as you see when he’s introduced, is literally true.
‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’ is the smartest show on TV because all of this stupidity is thoroughly, profoundly intentional. Just describing the bits above (descriptions that, if you haven’t watched the episode yet, do it no justice) had me laughing maniacally, because holy cow, is this show funny. Uniquely funny, in a way that’s so dumb on the surface but actually really brilliant.
That couldn’t always be said during season one, which had the same comedic perspective, but didn’t always nail the execution. Armed with a hefty 20-episode vote of confidence from IFC and an off-season to work out the kinks, Aukerman and Watts appears to have nailed down the right tone and figured out exactly how to make the show work consistently, at least if this premiere and the Sarah Silverman episode (which is currently available for free on IFC’s website) are any indication.
The content of this premiere ranged from wildly esoteric (the whole Tron bit) to bordering on “traditional” comedy, with Jordan Peele showing up as a fortune teller who gets vindictive when Aukerman, Watts, and Samberg won’t bring him along to a concert they’re attending. But aside from the bits themselves, there are just so many tiny, delightful things going on. In fact, my favorite moment of the night might have been Watts’ reaction to Aukerman explaining to Samberg that Watts’ shirt (which had a face on it) was not his actual face.
‘Comedy Bang! Bang!’ is certainly not for everyone, but if you consider yourself a fan of comedy, then I urge you to check it out if you haven’t already.