In last week’s “Jake Johnson Wears A Light Blue Button-up Shirt And Brown Shoes,” Comedy Bang! Bang! upends itself, turning the whole world topsy-turvy. “Adam Pally Wears A Navy Blazer And Bright Blue Shoes” brings the show back down to earth without missing a beat, and—like the unflappable Adam Pally—I can’t say I’m surprised. One of CB!B!s great strengths is its ability to shift from ambitious, often world-breaking conceits to simpler episodes without missing a step.
Keep in mind, this simple, down-to-earth episode is also one in which a sentient sock becomes an instant media sensation, two tourists are treated to an impromptu production number explaining (and explaining and explaining) green-screen effects, and a disgraced celebrity cyclist rhapsodizes about making love to his motorcycle. This is what passes for simplicity in the world of Comedy Bang! Bang!
But it really is the little things that anchor this episode. The opening celebration/explication of green-screen technology is a small-scale spectacle, with Scottacus in gladiator gear, burning through the effects budget in a few scant minutes, but it’s his commitment to the playful, growly-voiced Disney-style calypso vocals that sells this song and dance.
Similarly simple, and similarly effective, is the chemistry between Scott, Kid Cudi, and their guests, Adam Pally and celebrity cyclist Pierce Handmight (Luka Jones). There’s no distinct through line for the conversation between Scott and Adam Pally, but their energy never falters as they meander from affable cross-talk to outright hostility to a soft-focus vignette about hot cocoa (complete with affected emphasis), Nana’s figgy pudding, and eternal friendship that culminates in a “your mom” joke.
Pierce Handmight’s string of confessions starts out absurd, then escalates, grounded by the performers’ cooperation, connection, and emotional candor. Scott particularly fosters an air of sincerity and reason in this unreasonable conversation, greeting each disclosure with fresh surprise. Cudi chimes in with alternating enthusiasms and disappointments as their hero announces one misdeed after another. (“You know that hot-dog contest that I won?” “No! No, no, no.”) Handmight’s preposterous professional and sexual scandals, all revolving around his motorcycle, contrast with Luka Jones’ depiction of remorse and shame, all enhanced by a maudlin theme playing in the background.
Comedy Bang! Bang! never goes for one joke when it can cram in three, and the layering of gags in the Save The Date sequence is simple, strong, and effective. Ostensibly a show designed to correct dating blunders, Save The Date dispenses unsound advice (“ordering for your date makes you seem more assertive,” “always order two bottles of wine”) that pads the tab and fails to save tonight’s contestant from his excruciating anecdote. Matty Climpton (CB!B! writer, producer, and all-star Neil Campbell) balks at the bill, but Scott waves off his outrage: “This is Save The Date, not Feed The Freeloader,” he jeers, and the chyron delivers:
The denouement, revealing Save The Date is actually Rescue The Restaurant, is constructed with perfect logic. The segment is packed with great details, from Matty’s preoccupation with his story about “the toilet, the dirty toilet” to the revelation that his date Lisa (Phoebe Neidhardt) is played by actress Silvia Buttsmell (“Buttsmell, you bitch!”), but my favorite is the moment just after Matty snaps and threatens the crowd with a broken bottle, when Scott thrusts out the restaurant owner as his human shield. The deeply silly sequence is elevated by the equally deep commitment demonstrated in the writing, performances, and production elements.
But the star of tonight’s show isn’t Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, or their guests. It isn’t even Jeff Sleazay (John Roberts), the smarmy Hollywood talent agent who manipulates Cudi like—well, like a puppet. The break-out star of “Adam Pally Wears A Navy Blazer And Bright Blue Shoes” is Cudi’s Buddy, the sock-puppet turned fan favorite. Even Pally is starstruck, ignoring his host for a chance to grab a photo with the new star. (“And you’re gracious with your time!”)
He’s a simple little sock puppet with ping-pong ball eyes (or “an alien or some shit” who uncannily resembles a simple little sock puppet), and within minutes, Cudi’s Buddy has become a world-wide celebrity, swept along by his catchphrase (“This sock… can talk!”) and Sleazay’s tireless hype. Once again, compliments to the art and graphics departments, whose meticulous work lends texture and credibility to this nonsensical scenario, and to Kid Cudi, whose obvious pleasure in his little buddy makes this plot as sweet as it is silly.
In a straightforward episode, details matter, and the details of “Adam Pally Wears A Navy Blazer And Bright Blue Shoes” are unimpeachable, right down to the replay of Scottacus’ calypso moves over the credits. Comedy Bang! Bang!’s premise is as simple and as evergreen as the formats it satirizes. It’s that note-perfect command of the fine points that makes the show so reliably funny, whether it’s turning topsy-turvy or staying down to earth.
- Scott’s onscreen credit: Scotch Taperman.
- update: John Roberts tells me his character’s name is Jeff Sleazay, not (as I heard it) Jeff Frisée.
- “Tonight’s episode is rated TV-SA for gratuitous amounts of me, Scott Aukerman.” The show-generated (not network-generated) ratings symbol rates this episode TV-DL (suggestive dialogue, coarse or crude language), which covers Adam Pally’s holiday plans and Handmight’s moto-coitus.
- Other shows filmed on the CB!B! lot: The Mixologist, season three of Peter’s Corn (“America’s comedy family is back!”), Shop Wives, and the George Wendt vehicle There He Wendt.
- “I’m going to ask you to pause right here and just let you know that this is the plot of Little Miss Sunshine.” “Look, I panicked.”
- So many Watto references in this episode: in the green-screen number, Matty’s favorite character, and his favorite game, the Chance Cube.
- Jeff Sleazay looks like a sleazy mixture of Don Draper and John Mulaney, and I am here for it.