I’ve never not enjoyed this season of Comedy Bang! Bang! but I was happiest during that early run of episodes at the start of the season where it continually messed with its own formula. I like the basic format of the show: guest, sketch, weirder guest, sketch, etc. But I also have no real qualm with them warping that format as often as possible. The last few weeks have had some very funny material, but my heart’s been crying out for a truly different episode, and we got one tonight.
The Sliding Doors concept has been done before on TV, of course. My mind immediately snaps to the classic Malcolm In The Middle episode “Bowling,” where we see two realities unfold alongside each other, one where Lois takes the kids bowling, and one where Hal does, but there’s a bunch of other examples. On Comedy Bang! Bang!, we see Scott have pretty much a perfect episode when he makes his morning bus, striking up a kinship with Andy Dick, getting praise from his boss (Matt Walsh again), getting tons of Emmys, etc. In the bad reality, he misses his bus, spills coffee everywhere, makes Andy Dick mad and ends up getting fired.
This alone is really cute to watch. The good show is kinda boring, but the bad show really reveals how much fun Aukerman is at playing beleaguered. Scott is usually so chipper and filled with child-like wonder in his hosting role, we rarely see him really upset. I really, really enjoyed watching Scott suffer through the miserable reality. This is not something I predicted! Aukerman’s acting talents have more depth to them one might think at first glance. Maybe he’s just getting more confident as the series goes on. Either way, I appreciated his pain, and I appreciated laughing at it.
But I was happy to see the episode take the Sliding Doors concept further in its closing sketch, which posits that a new reality is created every time Scott catches a bus, with a new alternate Scott missing the bus every time, building into an insane feedback loop that quickly drives Scott (and the world) insane. There’s business with some sort of time traveler who’s also Scott, there’s a Being John Malkovich homage with a bus filled with Scotts, it’s delightfully bonkers and just what I expected from a show basing an episode around a weird concept that has nonetheless been done before.
The other great thing about this episode is that, despite the crazy presentation, it manages to squeeze in a terrific sketch that riffs on the aphorism that car mechanic banter is so good it can reach the level of professional comedy. You’ve got Todd Glass, Kyle Kinane, D.C. Pierson, John Gemberling, Eva Anderson (one of the show’s great writing staff) in a skit that quickly turns into a serious documentary about the comedy garage scene.
The funniest thing is that nothing is actually allowed to get outlandish—the whole “scene” took place over a couple days and every twist is just a dumb pun (Kinane’s character went to Carson—Carson, California). By the time Brent Weinbach came on as a material-stealing Carlos Mencia type, I was delighted. Maybe this sketch doesn’t have as broad appeal as some of the show’s other knockout sketches from this season—some of the references are pretty inside—but this is the kind of show to do that on, and I sure appreciated the hell out of it.
- Scott is married to a monstrous form known only as Mavis.
- “Three points!” “Interception!” That was when I knew I’d love this episode.
- “I'm Sliding Doorman, uh, Scott Aukerland,” Scott says as his real name is displayed beneath him.
- Scott blows Andy’s introduction. “He told me he wanted to be in a movie, but someone better-looking got the part.” “I told you that in confidence. Sam Rockwell got the part.”
- Andy's dead cockatoo was called Sweet Cheeks Tenderoni III.
- Gemberling’s Dice impression was terrific.
- “Comedy Bang Bang has gone down the toilet! In the case of fecal matter, that would be a good thing. But for a TV show, that's horrible. You're fired!”
- Pretty sure that was another Kulap/Rocky appearance blocking Scott’s way to the bus near the end of the episode.