Aukerman and company never turn down the chance to do a theme episode. After twenty episodes, season 3 of Comedy Bang! Bang! comes to close with a classic Christmas episode. The Lonely Island star in a terrorist-filled episode that also includes the Sauerkraut Patch Kids and Alan Tudyk. We assembled the A.V. Club’s Bang! Bang! review team to hash out the season 3 finale.
David Kallison: Let’s start with the Die Hard spoof. The movie came out 26 years ago. Will it ever be passé to do a Die Hard parody? And did anyone else’s heart skip a beat when they saw Alan Tudyk?
LaToya Ferguson: As far as I’m concerned, Die Hard and Jingle All The Way are the ultimate Christmas movies, so the fact that this episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! essentially does a send-up to both of them makes it a winner in my book. (Who would be the Phil Hartman in the case of the latter? Is Reggie Sinbad? This is going to bug me all day now.) I think that going into a Die Hard parody, it’s easy to think “oh no, not this again,” but there’s a reason shows keep going to the well—it’s a really good one.
I think this might actually be the best use of the trope since the Chuck episode, “Chuck Versus Santa Claus,” not counting Bob’s Burger’s “Work Hard Or Die Trying, Girl.” Alan Tudkyk is an absolute delight to see no matter what the project, but there’s just something about seeing him in the John McClane role (or, “Introducing Ray Starksy As The Air Conditioner Repairman” role) where it makes all the sense in the world, even as a surprise at first.
Simply put, my heart always skips a beat when I see Alan Tudyk.
Emily L. Stephens: And that makes three of us excited to see Tudyk! Especially as a John McClane stand-in: no one sweats fury like Alan Tudyk sweats fury, and his intensity pays off in the episode-ending massacre.
The entire cast of this Christmas episode delighted me. James Urbaniak delivers that Rickmanesque mixture of urbanity and menace, and Bruce McCulloch as the cop negotiating the hostage situation hits the perfect note of haplessness and befuddlement. (I watched the episode several times preparing for this discussion and each time I laughed out loud at his “… we’ve been talking for five minutes?”)
I’ve seen plenty of Lonely Island’s videos, but this is the first time I’ve seen them on a talk show—or a talk-show simulacrum—so it was fun to see them lined up on the couch bouncing punchlines around, deflecting Scott’s eagerness to join the band, and enumerating the lures of fame, all the way up to the occasional free hot dog. #score!
DK: Let’s talk about The Lonely Island. I used to watch their Channel 101 videos all the time and loved their sketch sensibilities. It is good to see all three back in front of the camera. Samberg’s face right before they cut to commercial during Reggie’s take on “Jingle Bells” is priceless. What did you think of the guests? I am surprised this episode isn’t more insane.
LF: I became familiar with the trio because of Saturday Night Live, and I latched onto them pretty much immediately; I have all three of their albums, so, going into this episode, I was already excited for their appearance as guests.
For some reason, the bit that I get the most out of from them in this episode is the “Make Love, Marry, or Kill” game, especially with Kiv’s twist on everyone being so disgusted by Scott (and his washboard abs) that they’d kill him. However, it’s a little sad is that Reggie isn’t really (With Seth & Amy) an option in this game.
Still, the episode does a really good job of giving every guest star (from The Lonely Island right down to Michael Blaiklock’s Tustin Limbersnake) something to do, and it’s the rare time in which I’m not disappointed in the continued lack of out-of-studio segments. The entire episode has a cinematic quality thanks to the Die Hard framing device, and it make all the difference.
Also, because of the Andy Samberg of it all, I of course got “Hollywood Facts” stuck in my head again.
I’ll disagree with you real quick, David, and say think the episode is actually the appropriate amount of insanity, especially with the appropriately-placed Sauerkraut Kid commercial. “WARNING: Toy may cause post partum depression.” The fact that these terrorists apparently want to give their children the responsibility of becoming adoptive mothers adds another layer to the whole concept (the extremes parents will go for that perfect gift is where I got the Jingle All The Way comparison) that I wouldn’t expect anywhere else but on Comedy Bang! Bang!
ES: If by “What did you think of the guests?” you mean “Were you sorry to see them die in a hail of bullets?,” well, sure.
I worried that a three-person guest spot might overwhelm the show, but Lonely Island (not surprisingly) fit perfectly into Comedy Bang!Bang!’s tenor, and into the plot of this episode. After the escalating time-travel gambit of last week’s episode, I enjoyed the tight structure of “The Lonely Island Wear Holiday Sweaters And White Pants.” I especially loved that, in a classic Bang! Bang! misdirect, there’s no heroic payoff to Ray’s excursion into the vents, and that the show instead devolves into an unnecessary bloodbath. Merry Christmas!
Maybe having a band as the main guest highlights Reggie’s always-inventive contributions or maybe I’m still reeling from the news of his impending departure, but his Christmas songs made me wonder how the voice of the show might change in season four. His unpredictable line readings and timing do as much as Scott Aukerman’s genial persona to give Comedy Bang! Bang! its distinctive tone. Starting in January, we’ll see how the show sets the stage for Reggie’s mid-season goodbye.
DK: I admit, the Sauerkraut Patch Kid commercial tricked me into thinking it was a Hulu ad for a second. It just shows how pitch-perfect this show can get when it wants to. Emily’s right that the episode moves quick, faster than usual, and I think it helps make “The Lonely Island Wear Holiday Sweaters And White Pants” work. I did especially appreciate the Really? With Seth and Amy allusion—too recent to be cool and too popular to be obscure, it feels like the perfect terrority for Bang! Bang!.
Fitting for Christmas, there is a joy here that Comedy Bang! Bang! sometimes loses amidst a stretched out gag or a celebrity guest who doesn’t pop. “The Lonely Island Wear Holiday Sweaters And White Pants” is a nicely wrapped gift from Aukerman and Watts just in time for the holidays.
- Scott’s Onscreen Credit: Yule Loggerman
- “You suck, Ray!” [LF]
- “The answer for all three was acclaimed actor William H. Macy.” Yeeeeah, it is. [ELS]
- “I was on gold detail!” [DK]