Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Jason Schwartzman Wears A Striped Shirt & High Top Sneakers”

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This week’s Comedy Bang! Bang! has the kind of central conceit shows only like this can always get away with—Scott has a daughter, she’s an indignant teen called Stacey (Samantha McCullough), and he brings her to work to meet her ultimate crush, Jason Schwartzman. Not to be outdone, Reggie Watts has adopted his own kids, a creepy set of twins played by the wonderful Sklar brothers (Jason and Randy). As overarching concepts for an episode go, it’s not the most innovative. Since Stacey’s such a made-up character and the reality of the show is so fluid, her emotional reunion with her father at the end of the episode doesn’t elevate beyond simple spoofery. But it’s still funny stuff.

The cold open of the episode is perfect, and pitched straight at me. In an episode where Scott suddenly has a daughter, every sketch also messes with the reality of the show, and we begin with Scott doing bad observational stand-up in front of an audience that’s increasingly perplexed that he’s abandoned his talk show roots. It’s a Seinfeld spoof of course, down to the opening credits (boasting a sadly never-realized appearance from the late Herve Villechaize) but as one would expect from Comedy Bang! Bang! it quickly goes down an even stranger route, with the audience quickly self-aware of the incongruity of the situation.

The other sketch sees Scott nail a garbage toss and join the NBA on Reggie’s advice, before switching careers over and over again every time someone tells him to, before he ends up hosting a talk show again (his janitor patter, “Hot enough for ya?” is enough to get him the job). I like the weirdly apt joke to both sketches that Scott is preternaturally suited to hosting. I’m not saying this is some meta-commentary on Aukerman’s abilities, it’s just a nice reinforcement of his persona on the show.

Schwartzman starts out one of the more uninteresting guests. His opening patter with Scott sees him drumming out Beatles beats on his knees while Scott tries to guess the song. Cause he’s a drummer? It’s the kind of bit that sounds so weird, it should work, but it really doesn’t. Although good job by Aukerman working his preferred style of freestyle rapping in there. “My name's John Lennon and I'm here to say, and it's fun to rock in a Liverpudlian way!” Any podcast fan surely got a kick out of that one.

Schwartzman warmed up when he brought out his creepy baby doll and proclaimed it his daughter, and it chanted, “Bow down to the dark one or forever be his slave.” That kind of family-friendly entertainment will always work for me. But as I said, the final bit, involving Schwartzman as mediator between Scott and his grumpy daughter, just felt like a parody of a thousand TV shows/movies and nothing else. Sure, Paul Rust as the ultimate douchebag boyfriend was a joy. Paul Rust is a perfect angel, and he’s always a joy, and if anything I wanted his performance to be more surreal. Every time this episode veered in that direction, I was interested, but largely it didn’t go crazy enough.

Stray observations:

  • Scott doesn’t get the fuss with talk shows. “I also live with my sex addict brother Charlie Harper in a Malibu beach house and you don't see anyone making a TV show about that, right?”
  • “I've heard the song ‘Crying’ by Roy Orbison, but the sound of crying in the studio?” followed by “I've heard of the song ‘Cryin’’ by Aerosmith, but the song ‘Crying’ by Roy Orbison?” deserves a major tip of the hat.
  • “I wish there was a third meal after breakfast and lunch.” Evidently the Aukerman family knows nothing of dinner.
  • “I've never even held a basketball.” “There's a basketball right there.” “Eh.”
  • I’d buy a newspaper called Yes, More Sports.