Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Zach Galifianakis Wears A Santa Suit”
B+

Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Zach Galifianakis Wears A Santa Suit”

B+

Comedy Bang! Bang!

"Zach Galifianakis Wears A Santa Suit"

Season 2, Episode 20

I’d like to start my review of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s final episode of the season (sob) by asking a probably pointless question: is Scott Aukerman a jerk? I don’t mean the actor and writer Scott Aukerman, who’s a lovely guy by all accounts. But we get such mixed messages about his character on the show. Now, this show has never been one to strictly obey continuity or set up any arcs, but even within this Christmas episode, it was hard to tell what we should really think about Scott.

On the one hand, he’s Scrooge-like, paying Reggie Watts just 15 bob a week and taping his home without his knowledge (we see Christmas Carol-inspired footage of Reggie returning to his angry wife and sick child for one comical segment). Later on, he yells at his cast and crew for demanding bonuses and curses his drafty studio. And his poor mother (Lynn Marie Stewart, a Pee-Wee Herman veteran who you might also know as Charlie’s mom on It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia) flashes back to Scott’s horrifying-looking childhood, which might suggest a reason for his dark personality.

But at the same time, he’s such a sweetheart, buying his mom a nice t-shirt, reminding everyone that they earn TV money, far greater than normal people, acting like a delighted little kid around Santa. I understand that everything is done in service of the bit on this show, and that’s how it should be, but a little consistency, people, please! Is Scott friend or foe? Villain or hero? Do the cast and crew cower in his presence, or celebrate him behind his back?

Okay, enough of that. Comedy Bang! Bang!’s Christmas spectacular was all over the place, and didn’t quite have the coherence I was hoping for from its setup (the Christmas bonuses are gone, and Scott and Reggie need a miracle) but was worth it just for Zach Galifanakis’ performance as Santa. The casting was obvious—fat guy with a beard, why hasn’t that been done before? But Galifanakis brought his strange energy to the role in a way that was eerily perfect. I mean, Santa’s a strange character no matter how you think of him, but Galifanakis is a smart enough comedian to know not to go too far in any one direction.

There were creepy elements (he spies on couples as they try to conceive children), threats of violence and a generally disaffected attitude, but much like his occasional collaborator Tim Heidecker, Galifanakis can make the “uninterested guest” shtick work. And his weird digressions, like Santa pondering his favorite holiday, were just hysterical to watch. “I don’t like Groundhog Day, or any Bill Murray movies. July 4th...I’m not really an American though, don’t tell anybody.”

The return of Dave Thomas as Scott’s dad yielded limited returns, but I did enjoy the weird, disturbing emotional arc of his mother, even though I was bothered by the larger implications for Scott’s character. I realize that I sound ridiculous right now, but that should be taken as a compliment for this show, which has done so well to reel me in. The universe it has created might have some holes in it, but it’s an expanding, beautiful thing and the third season should deliver on that promise. I really have no doubt.

Stray observations:

  • The stop-motion animated film, presented as a series of flashbacks, was a lot of energy expended on one very clever joke.
  • Aidy Bryant returns to be as the Jacob Marley of the episode, completing her task as segment producer before moving on to the afterlife. Can we investigate her mysterious death next season, please?
  • Santa explored travel to other planets, from 1977 to 1979, got a committee together, but it was not cost-effective. “The reindeer were freaked out by other dimensions.”
  • “’Happy holidays Scott, Johnny Carson is a noted talk show host?’ You remembered!”
  • Reggie asks Santa the vital question. “Ain't you never gonna die?” “Fair question!” Scott interjects. Santa: “I ain't never gonna die.”