“Eh, [Scott] doesn’t do a lot of the writing anymore himself. He just gets his funnier friends to write rip-offs of his favorite movies.”
Scott Aukerman and the writers of Comedy Bang! Bang! are a very self-aware bunch. That’s something that pretty evident in every episode, from the strongest one to the weakest, and it’s really a part of the series’ charm. But—without acknowledging the “funnier friends” thing—there’s definitely an argument to be made about Comedy Bang! Bang! relying very much on movie “rip-offs.” Comedy Bang! Bang! often switches between these downright homages or parodies and the broader concept of certain tropes in particular, and both options have their own merits. It’s a major reason why Comedy Bang! Bang! can probably go on for years without real fatigue in terms of coming up with ideas: There’s so much to rip off. But it’s the reliance on said homages or parodies in particular that can create a sense of fatigue for the audience.
Luckily, Comedy Bang! Bang! knows that’s the case, and it’s not afraid to let the audience know that. That doesn’t mean it’s going to stop doing it—as this week’s Toy Story parody proves—because it’s well aware that this the show’s format, whether people like it or not. For a sketch show, sitcom, late night show, or whatever you want to call Comedy Bang! Bang!, it’s absolutely cognizant of all the constraints and conventions that make it what exactly it is. That’s why there are episode quotes like the one above and why the end of the cold open has Scott’s stuff acknowledging the fact that their big adventure will be taking place over the span of just one episode: “I bet it takes about 30 minutes.” “30 minutes sounds about right.” Comedy Bang! Bang! never puts up a front about what it is, and that’s something to appreciate on an episode-to-episode basis.
“A$AP Rocky Wears A Black Button Up And Black Sneakers” is instantly on track to be a delightful episode as soon as it’s clear that it’s going to go full Toy Story with Scott’s phone, wallet, and keys (named MyPhone, MyWallet, and MyKeys, respectively). The original purpose of the storyline is the type of Comedy Bang! Bang! thing that doesn’t quite pass any scrutiny—their goal is to not be washed with Scott’s pants, even though leaving Scott’s pants is their introduction to this world—but much like the actual Toy Story franchise, it’s hard not to just go along for the ride. It’s all too fun (and emotional).
The episode’s concept is even elevated by the behind-the-scenes commercial bit (which, understandably, feels very much like a Birthday Boys sketch) explaining why the show is doing a Toy Story episode in the first place… only for that to become more about lunch than the actual explanation itself. This is one of those episode concepts that feels like it spawned from just wanting to have fun, and that fun is apparent throughout the entire episode. It’s the only thing that can really explain the security guard dog, who feels like a character right out of the real Toy Story but also appears to exist (instead of just as a dog) for no other reason than because it’s really fricken adorable. The dog has a uniform and a hat and sunglasses! Despite that and the source material, the episode surprisingly doesn’t get to cutesy and cartoonish with it all; it knows when to pick its spots, like with the dog or “one, two, KEYS!” or the cartoon birds (Twitter and Angry Birds) that hover around MyPhone’s head after the stairs jump.
Interestingly enough, even with its use of something as popular as Toy Story as the framing device, Comedy Bang! Bang! remains as niche as ever; and the episode’s choice in guest highlights that even more. Rapper A$AP Rocky falls mostly on the side of being a successful guest, not because he’s particularly a stand-out or even surprisingly funny, but because of the genuine awe and even a little confusion he appears to have over how strange of a show Comedy Bang! Bang! is. He laughs when Scott goes on about how he lost his virginity when he was 27 (he’s 28 now). His response to the Harry Potter/rap names bit is more laughter and a “This show is nuts.” And it’s not just the type of laughter you see when a comedian on this show is breaking; he’s laughing because he’s not quite sure what to make of all this.
It’s not as though A$AP Rocky isn’t an inactive participant in the fun and games though. He loves “Home Alone: Part 2,” as he calls it; he explains how the music industry works in the millennial age; he teaches Scott how to make weed smoke clouds. But he’s clearly not used to any of this.
The best way to describe A$AP Rocky’s entire vibe in this episode actually comes from one of the scenes without him. It’s in the closet with all of the obsolete items, when Final Draft 5 makes a joke about how the “.fdr file format” became no longer needed by Scott and the writers. I chuckled at the joke, but then I realized how easily the joke could fall flat to those without a familiarity with screenwriting. They might laugh politely at the joke if surrounded by people who possibly get it, but to them, it’s just a weird joke. A$AP Rocky is in that very position as the guest in this episode. A$AP Rocky commits to the role he’s given in Comedy Bang! Bang!, but he also reacts in a way that feels like an honest reaction to a lack of knowledge of this comedy world. This is a weird, specific show with a weird, specific host and weird, specific audience, and every time A$AP Rocky just laughs at one of Scott’s bits instead of yes-and’ing, it’s a very real reminder of that. Not everyone is quite in on the joke, and that’s not even saying that’s a bad thing. It does, however, make it somewhat disappointing that there is no second guest in this episode; I can only imagine A$AP Rocky’s reaction to something like that.
Keeping with what actually does happen in the episode, I’ve mentioned Scott’s attempts to match Kid Cudi’s effortless cool before (see: him calling Cudi “Cud Light”), and that particular trait of his is also the case when he interacts with A$AP Rocky. This is a far less manic episode than there’s been recently, and it works sort of as a guiding hand for the more chill and unfamiliar A$AP Rocky. Immediately, Scott wants to find a connection with A$AP Rocky because of the verbal similarity of them either “banging models” ($ASAP) or “building models” (Scott). However, it all backfires for Scott when his weed smoke rings reveal how much of a square he is.
Scott: “Sorry. Can I still roll with you?”
A$AP Rocky: “Fuck no, dude.”
Scott: “Not even on weekends?”
A$AP Rocky: “Hell no, especially not on weekends.”
A$AP Rocky: “No.”
A$AP Rocky: “Never.”
Scott: “Sunday nights? After Game Of Thrones?”
A$AP Rocky: “Maybe.”
Finally, while the Toy Story framing device really does work in this episode—right down to the Comedy Bang! Bang! twist of Scott being too self-absorbed to care about his My things—it still has some competition in the case of the trailer for Scott’s new movie, The Parole Disagreement. Comedy Bang! Bang! already had an entire episode dedicated to Scott coaching a ragtag bunch of misfits in “Brie Larson Wears A Billowy Long-Sleeve Shirt and White Saddle Shoes,” but this particular sketch takes a few different approaches to that concept, proving that Comedy Bang! Bang! still has something to say about the trope.
The trailer hits every cliche and predictable beat possible, really highlighting how the lead characters in these types of films can be selfish dicks. Hell, there’s even a breath freshener joke in this trailer, and that’s after all of the “wrong side of the law” and “on the rocks” voiceover talk. The bit could easily end with Scott’s character, Wayne Boilermaker, being sentenced to jail. It’s already a swerve from the Mighty Ducks approach to punishment, and it’s an excellent button to it all. Instead, Comedy Bang! Bang! pushes it even more and continues forward with the same movie, only with much more violence. The idea of Scott being like every other reluctant coach-turned-hero and wanting to stay with his crew—to the point of murdering a parole board member—brings that healthy dose of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s sunny darkness (which is the key to this entire episode), somewhat fittingly in what is its Toy Story episode.
I just want to know how A$AP Rocky reacted to it.
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: “Y Tu Mamá También”
- Scott’s Spanish Onscreen Credit is also the result of his Spanish introduction to this week’s episode: “¡Hola, bienvenidos a Comedy Bang! Bang! Tenemos una programa fantastica para tu este noche. A$AP Rocky esta aquí. Soy Scott Aukerman. Uh, I’m sorry. Hey folks, you ever have one of those days where you mix up your Rosetta Stone CD in your Rolling Stones jewel case? That’s the kind of day I’m having.”
- The cold open is strangely aggressive with its portrayal of Scott as a perverted creep, as opposed to just a self-absorbed creep. First, there’s the way he tells the PA to “come” (instead of “come in”) followed by the “dollop of cream” on his pants. Then there’s his fake ID to get into “teen only events.” There’s his stack of Prayboy magazines. Also, he has a portrait of his mother on his vanity mirror.
- Scott: “Oh, I’m sorry. I just— Drifting off there. I can’t help but wonder: Do you think I’ve made more money than Chris Hardwick?”
Kid Cudi: “Oh. I know how important that is to you.”
Scott: “Well, only one way to find out, right?”
Scott/Cudi (dual dialogue!): “ComedianNetWorth.com!”
- “I see you, fam…You know what I know.” Kid Cudi knows Pharrell is a vampire, and even though this isn’t the right time to address it, it’s nice they made it clear there will be a time to address it
- “Reggie may have left something in the couch cushions.” Reggie remains gone but not forgotten. Never forget.
- Sirius Black, Luna Lovegood, and Harry Potter really are pretty good hip-hop names. Maybe Scott isn’t so square after all.
- What a pleasant surprise to see Cedric Yarbrough and Kyle Bornheimer’s characters from “Eddie George Wears A Navy Suit And Half-zip Pullover” make a return for a small part in The Parole Disagreement.
- “Oh when Scotty used me, I knew we’d never part. He would touch my touch screen, and I would touch his heart.” There are a couple of pretty good fake songs in this episode. “Remember what Randy Newman said—and I paraphrase—consider me a pal.”