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

Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Michael Sheen Wears A Plaid Button Down And Grey Blazer”

Illustration for article titled Comedy Bang! Bang!: “Michael Sheen Wears A Plaid Button Down And Grey Blazer”

For all of its off-the-wall episode concepts on a weekly basis, Comedy Bang! Bang! is still a show with a fairly rigid structure. There are of course twists to each episode and the necessary punchlines, but for the most part, once you know the framing device of the episode, you can sort of figure out where the episode is going. This week’s episode, “Michael Sheen Wears A Plaid Button Down And Grey Blazer,” opens with a party planning bit that is pretty fun on its own. But then it turns out that’s all it is—a bit that is on its own. Unlike the standard Comedy Bang! Bang! cold open, it really has nothing to do with the rest of the episode, and it’s not until after the opening credits run that we get to the actual episode premise.

Here, it’s in the form of Wonky Cat, “the world’s weird cat” and Comedy Bang! Bang!’s take on the Grumpy Cat phenomenon (which reached critical, terrible mass with Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever). When Scott makes mention to the lame guests his show has, guests like Wonky Cat, he posits the question: “What kind of lame-o, jerk-o owns a grody cat like that?” Obviously, a quick Google search can direct you to the answer to that question with regards to Grumpy Cat, but here, it’s not even really that much more of a factor in Wonky Cat’s story. It’s actually all about Scott taking credit for Reggie saving Wonky Cat from a tree (that Scott planted inside the studio, because he’s “pretty green”) and reaping the benefits of his new-found hero status.

Even episode guest Michael Sheen (of such projects as Masters Of Sex, Frost/Nixon, and Frost/Aukerman) gives Scott a hand for saving Wonky Cat, as it really is a big deal to the world, for some reason.

As a guest, serious actor Michael Sheen brings a sense of high class to a show that doesn’t immediately come across as high class. Of course, anyone who’s seen Sheen’s stint on 30 Rock knows he can be just as wacky as needed in such situations, and here, it takes shape in the form of a man who knows nothing but sounds good saying it. He’s delightful as ever, whether he’s confessing to have killed 306 people for their lame Wales/whales/“normal people” jokes or explaining the birds and the bees with a gross misunderstanding of human reproduction (especially when it comes to women). He also teaches the audience a valuable lesson about acting for television/film versus acting for the stage, with a performance that was surely amazing good in-person.

But it doesn’t click. Not Michael Sheen himself but the episode as a whole. All of the pieces of a good episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! are here; there’s a good choice in celebrity guest, there’s a character guest from the podcast, and on the surface, there’s a framing device that serves as a solid commentary and satire on a particular topic (not even just straight up parody). But it all rings slightly hollow, like an episode of separate moving pieces instead of bits that create a whole product.

The Wonky Cat thing itself really fails to land outside of the commercial bit, which gets points for the adorable aspect (Rub A Dub the cat lives in a tub and is too cute). Part of this comes from there really not being much to say on the Grumpy Cat phenomenon at this point. It’s low hanging fruit in the form of a sort of high hanging cat in a tree. The trope of Scott accidentally (then intentionally) stealing Reggie’s credit and glory isn’t much of anything either, especially since Reggie doesn’t even really care all that much until the end with Barf Edwards introduction. The earnest version of this type of storyline isn’t reinventing the wheel, but at the same time, Comedy Bang! Bang!’s version isn’t adding much to it either. There’s some classic Comedy Bang! Bang! humor in the random Italian accents bit and the build-up of presents, but the whole plot feels empty.


Then there’s the character guest in the form of Victor Diamond. Victor is a recurring character on the podcast, and it’s pretty great to see another one of those characters show up on the TV screen. (If only we could one day Womp It Up.) What sadly can’t happen here is the inclusion of Victor’s manager Tiny, as both characters are voiced/played by Brendon Small. And honestly, the visual of Brendon Small in the role of Victor actually pings the radar of slightly offensive, with the touch of brownface to go along with the characters adult freckles and Cuban nationality. Luckily, Victor remains a character that is still as hilariously depressing as he is on the podcast, and the image of him passing out when he starts to sing actually becomes a greater concept as he astral projects into a version of him who can sing (still not well), then astral projects into a version of him who is a skilled flautist.

If only someone were around to tell him “that’s a good song.”

Under other circumstances, “Michael Sheen Wears A Plaid Button Down And Grey Blazer” could perhaps be considered a “great ep” of Comedy Bang! Bang! But the value of a framing device for this show shouldn’t be taken for granted, and as soon as that became wonky, so did the rest of the episode.


Stray observations:

  • Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Bad Farmerstan
  • Hey, according to the Sullivan Plain-Dealer newspaper, peace was reached in the Middle East. Oh, and a man walked on Mars, but peace in the Middle East!
  • Wonky Cat’s owner: “My Wonky!”
    Scott: “My Reggie!”
    me: “My wife!”
  • Scott: “I knew you could play a ditty, but who knew you could save a kitty?” Now that is some classic Comedy Bang! Bang!
  • Scott: “I’m such a fan of your work.”
    Michael Sheen: “I wish I could say the same.”
    Scott: “Oh, interesting —”
    Michael Sheen: “And I can!”