Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Did Comedy Bang! Bang! lose its mojo near the end of its fifth TV season?

Tegan and Sara visit the set.
Comedy Bang! Bang! contunues on as a podcast but ran in TV form on IFC from 2012 to 2016 and it was perhaps my favorite comedy TV show of those years. 

It was offbeat and frequently cryingly hilarious. I was always a Reggie Watts guy, and when Weird Al Yankovic replaced him for the fifth and final season (Kid Cudi was the bandleader at the end of Season 4), I was no longer as interested. I decided to go back and re-watch some of those fifth season episodes to give it another try.

Season 5 Episode 4, in which one of my favorite wave-pop groups Tegan and Sara visit. They are adorable and funny, being interviewed while host Scott Auckerman, looking like Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window, is distracted and convinced one of his weird crew members has killed another crew member. SNL’s Bobby Moynihan is nuts as a little orphan boy offering tips on making it in Hollywood. There are other plays on Alfred Hitchcock films through the episode, which is as good as Season 5 gets. 4.5 out of 5 stars

Season 5 Episode 9 is dominated by Weird Al’s soap-opera-acting brother, played by Al, swooping in with his soapy music, romantic ways, and clips from his Handsome Harbor show. I usually love guest Kristen Schaal but she never really seems too comfortable in her interview, which descends into her longing to return to her childhood sheep farm. Paul Rust, of the great Netflix show Love, also stops by for an intense, uncomfortable, and nonsensical bit called “New No Nos.” 3.5 out of 5 stars

Season 5 Episode 10 starts with glimpses of Haley Joel Osment before Scott announces that it’s the 100th and final episode and that he is getting married to a woman named Vanna to celebrate it. But then it turns into a skit show - not something that usually happens - and Scott gets amnesia, failing to remember major events in his life like when he was a doo-wop star and when he gave up a role he won to Zack Galifianakis because Scott was a bigger star and generous. The episode does not end up actually being the last. It's one of my least favorite Comedy Bang! Bang! episodes of all time. 2.5 out of 5 stars

Season 5 Episode 11 really starts to show the petering out of the show. Despite Kaley Cuoco’s cute interview, featuring her paranoia that the cameramen are really paparazzi, the group of early-history figures like Paul Bunyan that Scott attempts to employ to make America great again is a bit that really doesn’t work well. Guest Karen selling her Karen Water is off-the-wall and helps save the episode from the ruins. 3 out of 5 stars

Season 5 Episode 13 features Gillian Jacobs dressed as Pee Wee Herman in an episode that truly goes nowhere, overtaking the afore-mentioned Episode 10 as the worst Comedy Bang! Bang! episode I’ve ever seen. 2 out of 5 stars

It’s unfortunate to say bad things about such a great show. I highly recommend you check out Seasons 1 through 4 but skip Season 5 altogether, except for the episode with Tegan and Sara.

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