You guys all agree that something really special is happening with Comedy Bang! Bang! right now, am I right? Sometimes I worry with a show I’m reviewing that at a certain point I can’t see the forest from the trees, that I’m so invested that I’m pretty much guaranteed to enjoy an episode. But for the last few weeks, pretty much every episode has upended Comedy Bang! Bang!’s formula in some way without ever seeming gimmicky or like it’s trying too hard. Last week, Reggie swapped places with a cop. This week, there’s an endlessly recurring flash-forward to some horrible event that ends with Scott crying and looking at a coffin.
The first time you see the flash-forward, you spot Jason Mantzoukas lunging at the camera dressed in a chef’s outfit, baring vampire’s teeth. I punched the air with excitement. Mantzoukas is one of my absolute favorite podcast guests and I’ve long waited for him to appear on the show. And Chef Emeril Luigi (actually Lugosi), a snippy vampire chef, exceeded all of my expectations. On the podcast, Mantzoukas is a skilled improviser but almost never appears in character—he’s just someone for a wacky guest to bounce off of perfectly, a crazed ally for Scott to rely on.
But Mantzoukas is incredibly funny when in character too, patiently trying to explain how to grill burgers to Scott, who is busy trying to make as many vampire puns as he can fit into one segment. “I know what you're trying to do, I'm trying to tell you how to cook meat responsibly,” Luigi fumes. “When you're at a backyard barbecue, I want you enjoying this burger and getting all the way to the pie, not having to go to the bathroom and out in the woods and have, like, a watery shit.” It’s an unexpected and brilliant direction for such a character to go in—he’s not even a jerk, he’s just all pro, and frustrated that Scott isn’t.
Otherwise this episode plays on the flash-forward to great effect, introducing a bunch of dangerous elements and having them all resolve surprisingly mundanely. Reggie has a new girlfriend played by Michaela Watkins who obviously harbors homicidal tendencies towards him. Guest Gillian Jacobs (another podcast mainstay who fits wonderfully with Scott’s talk show sensibilities) has a deadly allergy to eggs (possibly an homage to Mantzoukas’ real-life deadly egg allergy, or is that too inside even for this show?).
We see a couple watching eagerly on the couch wondering what the ending could be; even better, Chris Hardwick bumps in to promote “Comedy Talk! Talk!” where Nasim Pedrad and Jacoby from Papa Roach will be his guests. Very nice to see Hardwick gleefully poke fun at himself and the franchise of ridiculous “Talking” shows he’s built up for himself on AMC. If you think Locke from Lost is in the coffin, “Tweet #baldguyfrom666parkavenue!”
This is Comedy Bang! Bang! so pretty much any resolution would work, but I was not surprised at the ultimate revelation that nothing too bad really happens. Gillian chokes, but washes it down with a wine cooler, which a lunging Chef Emeril was just getting for her. Michaela Watkins’ plans are foiled once Scott finally puts her murderous intent together. The coffin is filled, of course, with onions. “What did you expect? After all, I'm a vampire chef, so where else would I keep my onions?” Emeril notes, wisely.
I liked the flash-forward-forward that ended the episode, although it’s always risky for a show to mock its own ridiculousness with excessive praise. We see “It Was Onions” complete its EGOT (the Tony Award is presented by Adam Scott) and later it is shown to a caveman Reggie Watts by future time travelers to kickstart the human race itself. Very cute, but you don’t need to convince me that this episode was hilarious.
Comedy Bang! Bang! also seems to be veering away from its status as a sketch show with these more unified episodes. There’s only one unrelated segment this week, an “On This Day In History” that sees Aukerman, Neil Campbell, Paul Rust and others lighting money on fire and mocking the very idea that there could one day be an NBA. Aukerman’s English accent is something to hear and it’s perfectly funny but I just wanted to get back to the episode. Which means the flash-forward gimmick worked, I guess. I was hooked!
- Scott’s onscreen credit: Flash Backerman.
- Bookie went on a blind date. He thought he was meeting a thin novella, but no, it was Atlas Shrugged. “Eh, I still got under her dust jacket, if you know what I mean.”
- Despite the Gilly reference from a couple weeks ago, Gillian Jacobs still draws a “Gilly!” from Scott after eating his egg salad sandwich. “Sorry.” The first time that happened, on the podcast, by accident, was a glorious moment for the show.
- “I'm 600 years old. Think before you speak, I get it.”