What It Is
Scott Aukerman, of Mr. Show fame (well, not fame exactly) hosts an improv podcast on Earwolf, his own podcast network (more Earwolf podcasts forthcoming). Guests include comedians as themselves and also as various characters from pop culture. Occasionally, a musical artist features as a guest, but you got to be a very special kind of musical artist to wanna do this show (yes, I mean Neko Case).
Comedy Bang Bang was originally known as Comedy Death-Ray Radio; it began in 2009 and had the name change in 2010, when it switched from being a local LA radio show to being a podcast. The show comes out every Monday. Occasionally, a special “B-b-b-b-bonus” episode drops on a Thursday, typically at least once a month. The show runs anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Recently, Aukerman began running a spin-off television show on Comedy Central which isn’t nearly as good as the podcast. Archives on iTunes goes all the way back to episode one in 2009. The show has an Explicit tag for language; depending on the guest, frequency of profanity and sexually explicit language varies wildly. Typically, the show is, for comedy podcasts, pretty tame, mostly focusing on absurdity over vulgarity (though when it is vulgar, it is VERY vulgar).
What About It
Well, I said before that this is my second favorite podcast. There are so many great ones that it isn’t particularly easy to pick favorites, but to the degree that I could make the decisions without pulling my hair out, I have a top ten in mind. This one goes in the number two slot. Aukerman and his guests are consistently hilariously funny; the show is rampagingly absurd and, as a completely improvised show, loose and free-wheeling. You genuinely never know what’s going to come next. There are moments that I’ll literally never forget from this show and some of the characters are indelible: Paul F. Tompkins’ preening Andrew Lloyd Webber; Lauren Lapkus’ antisocial teenager Todd and immortal Ho Ho the Naughty Elf; Jessica St. Clair’s oversexed high-schooler Marissa Wompler; James Adomian’s screamingly obnoxious Tom Leykis; Nick Kroll as Sylvester Stallone; Amy Phillip’s hysterically accurate take-down impression of Sarah Silverman (who’s been on the show about six times herself). And then there are the guests that are superlatively wonderful and hysterical as themselves: Gillian Jacobs, Jason Mantzoukas, Amy Poehler, Jon Hamm. This show’s gotten podcast awards from iTunes, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, the A.V. Club and (oddly) GQ. They’re all right; this is one of the finest podcasts around. It’ll always hold a special place in my heart; back in 2012, when I was going through my bout of intense clinical depression, I was in a place where I literally couldn’t feel any kind of human emotion, except a dark despair. Nothing could shake my numbness; I was totally empty and totally without hope. But this podcast (and one other one that we’ll get to later) could somehow batter past my emotional pain. This podcast quite literally kept me going through those nine months. Something about the perfectly strange absurdity and unashamed silliness of the show went somewhere deep in me and, when I couldn’t find happiness or pleasure anywhere else, this show could make me laugh. It still does; every episode I’ve ever heard has at least one huge belly laugh moment – they often have quite a few more than that. And I haven’t even talked about the features. Aukerman generally ends the show with an absurd game called Would You Rather?, the game with the longest theme song ever (my favorite Would You Rather: Would you rather spoon with a sweaty Richard Simmons every time you go to bed for the rest of your life or drink piping hot mayonnaise as your only beverage for the rest of your life? Now there’s a quandary for the ages). And count yourself lucky if he decides to close things out instead with a Freestyle Rap Battle, particularly if Amy Poehler or Neil Campbell are on the show that week.
You are human.
Avoid Like the Plague If
You are a dour, humorless alien being that will spontaneously combust if you feel the emotion of joy.
Best Entry Point
Okay, so this is too great of a show to give you just one episode. Let me give you a couple, at least. Maybe three. First off, start with Best of 2012 Pt. 2, where Aukerman and Paul F. Tompkins count down the five best episodes of the year, with lengthy clips from each, as chosen by the listeners. This one’s packed to the gills with great stuff: the Monugents’ remake of Foghat’s Slow Ride; Scott & Paul breakdown the Cantina music from Star Wars; the song Wipeout makes a surprise appearance; Amy Poehler meets Tom Leykis . . . but most of all, Scott and Andrew Lloyd Webber deal with the appearance of a strange street urchin named Fourvil. It’s easily the funniest thing I’ve ever heard on the show; laughed until I cried first time I heard it. Then there’s Friends without Words, on which Gillian Jacobs is humiliated when Scott reveals one of her bad habits involving Words with Friends; plus Tompkins as Garry Marshall and a strange, strange romance that springs up during the show. And just one more, New No-Nos, one where Jessica St. Clair’s Marissa Wompler has something like her finest hour, following which Paul Rust arrives to reveal his New No-Nos, rules for a better society; those New No-Nos are absurd even by the standards of this show – it’s one of the flat out silliest things ever on the show. And . . . oh, God, okay, just two more: The Exorcism of Cake Boss, in which Paul F. Tompkins returns as Cake Boss who is possessed by the spirit of Matt Gourley’s H.R. Giger. Then there’s 2014 Holiday Spectacular in which a variety of guests show up, including first time appearances by Ho Ho the Naughty Elf and a strangely belligerent Santa Claus. Oh, shoot, I forgot about Victor and Tiny . . . there’s this episode where they start a podcast of their own . . . Oh, man . . . okay, wait . . . okay, I have to stop. Basically every episode with any of the following: Lauren Lapkus, Brendon Small, Matt Gourley, James Adomian, Gillian Jacobs, Paul F. Tompkins, Jessica St. Clair. Oh, man, 2012’s Halloween episode! Okay, enough . . .