Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Bill Hader Wears A Grey Button Down Shirt And Sneakers”
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Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Bill Hader Wears A Grey Button Down Shirt And Sneakers”

I was pretty much predisposed to give this episode an A. If I were a Supreme Court Justice, I’d have to recuse myself from grading “Bill Hader Wears A Grey Button Down Shirt And Sneakers” because of my prior relationship with the character of Fourvel. In all my years listening to the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast I had always longed for that one episode you could recommend to any friend as a way in—the humor of the show can be a little impenetrable and the hour-plus episodes can start a little slow. But then episode 150, featuring the debut of stabby orphan boy Fourvel (played by Bobby Moynihan), came along. If any TV watchers haven’t listened to the podcast and want to start, I’d say start with that one, because it’s perfect.

So I was, needless to say, pretty darn excited about the TV debut of Fourvel, a disarmingly sweet poor lad whose attitude can turn on a dime and usually lead a to foul-mouthed tirade and the reveal of one or multiple stabbing implements. Moynihan is magically shrunk down to child size, and it’s a great choice because it makes Fourvel all the creepier (Moynihan also sports a bit of beard growth to emphasize that creepiness). 

If you’ve listened to episode 150 (titled “Time Bobby” and also starring Paul F. Tompkins as Andrew Lloyd Webber), then you know that Fourvel sticks to the basics. He’s an orphan boy of indeterminate age, he wants scraps and possibly adoption by either Scott or Bill Hader, he’s surprisingly savvy (he knows when Scott’s giving him a fake address) and he’s very happy to wave a knife around and threaten everyone with death, a threat that does not seem idle. For example, his family died at his hands because “they were all up in my grill.”

I talked to Aukerman about the show and the podcast recently and he said Moynihan came into the studio just with the idea that he would play an orphan boy, and everything went from there. Whether he had sketched ideas out beforehand in his head, or whether it all came from improvising, I don’t know, but he has such a grasp on the character and it’s one of the funniest around. If he did it on Saturday Night Live it’d probably slay just as hard as it does on a weird alt-comedy improv podcast.

The rest of the episode was pretty much at Fourvel’s level, especially the creepy monotonous game-show Spin 2 Win hosted by Duke Scorpio (played, of course, by the great comedian Jimmy Pardo, who should be hosting every game-show on the planet). I liked the foreboding atmosphere of its promos (particularly the cut to black-and-white around the word “lose”) but I also like that the game never spiraled out of control into something completely insane. Yeah, the endless spinning has opened many sores on poor Janice’s hands, but the joke remained on the subtle side which, in the hands of most shows, it wouldn’t.

Bill Hader’s appearance was perhaps not wacky enough—if the guests aren’t doing some specific bit, their appearances are almost always the weakest part of the show, because it’s the most obviously cut-together hodge-podge of the funniest things they and Scott came up with. I liked Hader realizing things over and over again (once putting his hands in his face after Scott says absolutely nothing) and the gag of Reggie being on a satellite delay was an oldie but goodie (which only works if they keep it up the whole episode, which they happily did).

Only one episode remains of Comedy Bang! Bang! before it goes on a brief break (I believe the next ten episodes return in October). It’s going to be impossible to top Fourvel as a panel guest but I sure do love Casey Wilson!

Stray observations:

  • The “Reggie choking” sketch was great mostly because of their looks to the camera at the end of it.
  • The endless, hypnotic spinning of the Spin 2 Win wheel was even better. More than once I thought the set was moving around it, but it was probably all in my own head.
  • Scott thinks he’s reading the guests, but it’s actually the DVD chapter list to The Matrix Reloaded (which includes classics like “Enter the Keymaker.”)
  • “When you’re in a movie, how do you know what to say? Is there some sort of line list?”
  • Oh, Fourvel. “My belly's all distended from no food.” “Oh, that's what's going on with your belly?” “Yeah, that's what's fucking going on with my belly.”

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