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

Comedy Bang! Bang! starts its bye bye with blasts blasts from the past

Scott Aukerman (left), Reggie Watts
Scott Aukerman (left), Reggie Watts

Going into “Reggie Watts Wears A Purple And Yellow Quilted Sweatshirt” means going into an episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! with higher expectations than usual. And for good reason, because with former Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader Reggie Watts as the guest for the show’s penultimate episode, one obviously goes into said episode assuming it will hit a lot of good callback buttons while also addressing the void still left Watts’ departure from the series. Plus, the big unanswered question comes in the form of potential interactions between the old bandleader (Watts) and the new bandleader (“Weird Al” Yankovic). Now more than ever, the back-to-back scheduling of Comedy Bang! Bang! episodes makes this feel like part one of a two-part extravaganza, even before it even starts. And no one wants to be the weak link in a multi-part extravaganza.

But then the episode exceeds expectations and even kind of blows them up by not just calling things back—not to be confused with calling things “back to the time period after the present”—but by somehow also tying them together in a nonsense knot of continuity. This is another season five episode where having an intense knowledge of the show’s past comes into play, as even though this time travel caper works and gets the joke across as a standalone episode, it truly wins as an extension of the third season episode “Eric Andre Wears A Cat Collage Shirt & Sneakers” and, to a lesser extent, the first season episode “Adam Scott Wears a Red Oxford Shirt & Jeans.” It even retroactively elevates both of those episodes, using its knowledge of the 108 previous episodes to be the Back To The Future 2 to the Eric Andre episode’s Back To The Future.

Plus, it’s just stupid funny. It’s Comedy Bang! Bang! at its stupid funniest, which is certainly a classification worthy of Reggie Watts’ return. If there’s one missed opportunity based on the established story, it’s the fact that Scott and Reggie don’t rescue the Comedy Bang! Bang! babies, but that’s really more of a note to add to the list:

While the original time travel episode started as a quest for the “perfect” episode and ended as a battle against Yankovic’s Mike Cankers/Dr. Time, this sequel serves mostly as a greatest hits episode that also has to keep Dr. Time from completely erasing the show. Supposedly, “this is the episode where everything goes terribly wrong,” though, it’s kind of lucky that didn’t happen until the second-to-last episode ever. It’s all more ridiculous time travel that sort of makes more sense than you’d expect (because no one expects any sense). Only this time, there are time cops.

Adam Scott returning to reprise his role as himself—and now himself as a time cop—is the type of thing that leads to “great ep” status even before the episode’s final reveal.

As for that final reveal, it’s certainly earned. This episode’s basic premise and approach to it absolutely demand that the Time Keeper (Neil Campbell) make an appearance, and it thankfully follows through on that. Speaking from simply a fan-perspective, I quickly resigned myself to the idea that the Time Keeper wouldn’t show up in this episode, especially once Scott (Adam Scott) went on about his time cop backstory. So to me, the Time Keeper reveal at the end, as brief as it is, is the ultimate moment of satisfaction in an episode that is entirely about moments of satisfaction. You can’t help but love this weirdo.


And despite the episode regularly addressing that lovable weirdo Reggie Watts isn’t a regular part of the show anymore, him being around, even in a different role, instantly sets in and feels like he hasn’t missed a single episode. He’s teaches the children valuable lessons—

—he makes sweet, sweet music with “Weird Al,” and he sings Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” (all to get to a royalty-free music punchline, which is always appreciated).


It feels like nothing’s really changed, even though 2014 Scott and 2014 Reggie are much more critical of 2016 Comedy Bang! Bang! than they were of 2014 Comedy Bang! Bang! In the original Eric Andre episode, each version of future Scott and future Reggie were totally enthralled by the episode and how much they were nailing it. Here, it’s like they’re doing commentary track where they just can’t help but point out how imperfect the show and writing are (like Ben Affleck on the Armageddon commentary):

2014 Scott: “I would’ve punched that up a little bit.”
2014 Reggie: “Yeah.”

2014 Scott: “The writers must’ve been high when they wrote this.”

It actually fits in perfectly with the “Comedy Bang! Bang! hasn‘t been good since [insert season/bandleader era/it was just a podcast here]” approach to the series, only it comes from Scott and Reggie this time around. Yes, they manage to bring ironic hipster superiority into time travel—and do so against themselves. That’s almost as impressive as Scott’s (very on point, in terms of plot hackery) ability to split up with Reggie in the time stream and save the day with some offscreen time travel shenanigans:

Illustration for article titled Comedy Bang! Bang! starts its bye bye with blasts blasts from the past
Illustration for article titled Comedy Bang! Bang! starts its bye bye with blasts blasts from the past

Of course, all of this happens because Scott and the writers decided to address the fact that “Weird Al” played a crazy character here two seasons ago, and now he’s the bandleader. It’s not enough that the episode addresses a good number of the show’s inconsistencies, it has to make sure the audience “knows” this was the plan all along… by adding more inconsistencies. Because time travel. Or something. This is usually around the time Dr. Time would donk someone on the head.


But understanding the type of show Comedy Bang! Bang! is, no one watching truly cares about all of the times it’s contradicted itself. It’s a show that completely resets itself from episode-to-episode, with very few connecting threads between them (except for when it needs them), and that’s part of its charm. What viewers care about is feeling like they’re in on the joke, and even more, that they’re in on how the the joke will come about. The minuscule “differences” between 2014 and 2016 style is funny on its own, but a working knowledge of Comedy Bang! Bang! informs the audience that such a dumb beat is going to come back later in the episode, if only for a moment. And it is only for a moment (“…you two seem to be wearing clothes of the modern era…”), but it’s still somehow worth it. “Reggie Watts Wears A Purple And Yellow Quilted Sweatshirt” is an episode that’s all about reminding its fans why it’s all worth it. Call it a thank you or a love letter, but it’s one hell of a way to say goodbye. And it’s not even the last episode of the series. Except for when it comes to Manny the Mailman (Jerry Minor).

Oh, and just for old time’s sake:

Stray observations

  • Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Biff Tannenman. For a moment, I thought the show had used that name before, but it turns out I had remembered it from a WWE SmackDown! review from 2015.
  • There’s a lot of backstory to cover in this episode, so it’s a good thing Scott and “Weird Al” have uncharacteristically long introductions this episode, right?
  • 2014 Reggie: “So I accepted the offer from James Corden then.”
    2014 Scott: “Who?”
    2014 Reggie: “Nevermind, I’ll explain later.”
  • ComedianNetWorth.com is still going strong, baby.
  • Going back and watching “Adam Scott Wears a Red Oxford Shirt & Jeans,” it really is very different from the rest of the series—as it went for a more Between Two Ferns meets Pee-Wee’s Playhouse-inspired vision—but it’s nice to know that difference was still good enough to get a 110-episode order from L. Jefe Manincharge (Matt Walsh).
  • Reggie bringing up the Jenny Lewis/series finale thing proves without question that Scott and the writers really do listen to the fans… and that the fans are super repetitive when it comes to the Jenny Lewis/series finale thing. Love you all, mean it.
  • Adam Scott telling his time cop backstory felt very much like pitch for a procedural, and let me tell you: I would watch every episode.
  • The bit of characters repeating their act-out line during the next act-in is funny on its own, but when Scott calls them out, you’ve gotta laugh.
  • Even though this is all super Back To The Future by way of Time Cop and a tiny amount of Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure, this episode also throws in some Star Wars: There’s 2014 Scott not understanding BB-8 mentions (while 2014 Reggie does because he’s connected), Reggie’s Jar Jar-esque “me-so confusee,” and obviously, and Dr. Time’s final line (“Tell your sister she was right about me.”).
  • The most disappointing part of this episode is that Comedy Bang! Bang! didn’t find a way to throw in an out of nowhere Blast From The Past reference. I mean, if any show could go for that niche of a reference, it would be this one. The second most disappointing part is that Dr. Time has been playing “Weird Al” Yankovic for the past 19 episodes, meaning Emily L. Stephens will be the only one to review an episode with Al as the bandleader. That’s just my luck.
  • IFC dropped four previously unreleased Comedy Bang! Bang! sketches for everyone’s enjoyment, so have at ‘em. I just went to a UCB show the other night featuring a bunch of Comedy Bang! Bang! writers, and they showed us the dugout sketch. The sketch got a great response, so they started an anti-Scott chant. I’ll cherish that moment forever.
  • I hope you all understand and appreciate that my real grade for this episode is a C+. Great ep.