Hey, everyone! Kyle from Blue Turnip, here (the Fat One). Since we are all cooped up and watching tons of TV and movies and listening to our favorite music, I decided to do something I have always wanted to do and start a ranking blog called “Top Ten Percent.” In this blog, I will rank the Top Ten Percent of my favorite TV shows, filmmakers, and music artists. I’ll provide a brief introduction, describe my selection method, then hit you with the list as well as clips, songs, and other goodies. If you would like me to do a post on a particular show, filmmaker, or music artist, let me know in the comments or email me. Also, if you have any questions about our band Blue Turnip, feel free to ask (spoiler alert, we rule).
Comedy Bang! Bang! is my all-time favorite TV Show. Maybe it’s just me, but for me Comedy Bang! Bang! is so unique, charming, and hilarious that it has re-defined my personal definition of “funny,” for me. Many movies and shows that I used to watch year after year don’t make me laugh in the same way now that I have experienced Comedy Bang! Bang! The show also introduced me to so many talented comedians I had never heard of before, and the overall camaraderie of the cast members and writers and their obvious joy stemming from creative freedom make the show an absolute pleasure to watch time and time again.
So, what is Comedy Bang! Bang!? Comedy Bang! Bang! is a (more or less) fake talk show usually comprised of one actual celebrity guest and one guest that is a character played by a comedian—ranging from satirical impersonations (or combinations) of other actual celebrities to original characters that really have no business sitting on a couch next to the likes of James Marsden or Brie Larson. The show is partially scripted and partially improvised and includes sketches filmed both on set and on location. The sketches are sometimes viewed by the members of the show as “clips” and sometimes they are seamlessly incorporated into the flow of the episode. Many episodes, especially in the back half of the show, have some sort of plot or running thread that ties the episode together even if there is not a full-blown story. Comedy Bang! Bang! is not the most widely known TV show since it aired on Friday nights on IFC, but it was profitable enough to the network to run for 110 episodes across 5 seasons.
The show is hosted by Scott Aukerman—creator of the podcast of the same name and other hilarious projects including Between Two Ferns and Michael Bolton’s Big Sexy Valentine’s Day Special. In true talk show fashion, the show also has a bandleader, but said bandleader is always a one-man band. Omedy Ban! Ban! had four bandleaders: Reggie Watts (69 episodes), Kid CuDi (20 episodes), “Weird Al” Yankovic (20 episodes), and Jenny Lewis (1 episode). The bandleader does a lot more than just make the music as they are usually involved in the conversations with the guests and are often important parts of the sketches and plots.
My wife and I found the show scrolling through Netflix one lazy Saturday in 2013. We saw this thumbnail for the show and had to give it a try.
We spent the next 4 hours in tears from laughing as we watched the entirety of season 1. Since then, we have watched all 110 episodes at least half-a-dozen times (probably 10-15 views for some of our favorite episodes). We still haven’t gotten tired of it, and we still find new gestures, reactions, and shots of someone stifling laughter in the background each time we watch.
I love ranking things, and I have wanted to do a “Top Ten Percent” blog for years, so I thought Comedy Bang! Bang! would be a great place to start! 10% of Comedy Bang! Bang! is 11 episodes. I compiled a Top 11 and 4 honorable mentions to round it out to a nice 15 episodes. Allow me to explain my method. To me, the couch interviews are the heart of the show, so I started there, with a list of over 40 (so, 41) episodes that I felt had really strong interviews and hilarious second guests. After that, I narrowed it down to a Top 15 by comparing the sketches, bits, and plot devices of those episodes, then ranked them!
I have but two regrets about how my list came out. First, I didn’t end up choosing any episodes with a Lauren Lapkus character. Whitney Peeps, Harmony Moonglass, and Big Sue are three of my favorite characters on the show. All three of the episodes where she is on the couch made it into my Top 40, and I just want to say, Lauren, if you ever read this, you are hilarious, and I’m sorry. Second, I didn’t end up with any of the episodes that included the “Tsk-Task/Attaboy,” “Soap/Dope,” or “Nice Work/What a Jerk” sketches. I wanted to at least give them a shoutout as I feel like those are some quintessential Comedy Bang! Bang! sketches.
Alright, without further ado, on to the list!
- Season 3, Episode 3: Jenna Fischer Wears a Floral Blouse and Black Heels
Jenna Fischer’s charming interview includes telepathically communicating with her unborn child, being unsatisfied with the title of The Office, and sharing her experiences from both the British and Transylvanian Comedy Bang! Bang! shows. The Calvins Twins talk us through the lives of two successful horse-fight promoters at the CaFaBeeTaHoAnHoFiRiRa and give us detailed directions of how to get there. Meanwhile, Inspector Gantlet, played by Jason Alexander, tries to solve the mystery of who is murdering members of the tour group visiting the CBBTV set in an exciting “Who Has Done It?”
- Season 5, Episode 19: Reggie Watts Wears a Purple and Yellow Quilted Sweatshirt
Reggie Watts triumphantly returns to Comedy Bang! Bang! as the main guest/time-travelling bandleader. This episode, as well as the series finale that follows, is very much an homage to CBBTV as a whole. This one edges out the finale for me as I think it is a bit funnier and I love the inclusions of Adam Scott’s season 1 episode, the Time Keeper, and Manny the Mailman (my favorite male mailman). Here is a clip of Adam Scott: Time Cop!
- Season 2, Episode 5: Zoe Saldana Wears a Tan Blouse and Glasses
The “Cop Swap” episode. Bandleader, Reggie Watts, swaps places with a police officer and quickly begins abusing his power, while the extremely serious, non-musically talented Officer Dooley struggles to be of much use on the goofy TV program. Zoe Saldana is A. Way too famous to have graced this little show and B. a truly fantastic couch guest! I loved listening to how much Scott enjoyed having her on the show in the Season 2 DVD commentary. Director Garry Marshall stops by to talk about his Happy Days reboot, and this episode includes one of the Top 5 funniest sketches on the show, “Scottie Scares ‘Em,” and, oh, look, here’s a clip!
- Season 1, Episode 10: “Weird Al” Yankovic Wears a Hawaiian Shirt
It turns out, the first nine episodes of the show have actually been 100% green screen special effects, which has been going great up until this episode. This episode is jam-packed with hilarious content including Scott’s Summer Blockbuster Movie trailers (An Apple a Day, There’s No Eye in Team, and Don’t Lean on an Old Crone’s Wall Under the Light of the Northern Star), Scott and Reggie arguing over sandwiches, Chef Bellini Pastafangu played by David Cross, an avid potato chip collector played by Kerri Kenny, Jon Heder not being quite as famous as he thinks he is, and a Tenacious D and “Weird Al” Yankovic collaboration. Here is a clip of that collaboration as well as a hint of some of the green screen humor.
Top Ten Percent
- Season 3, Episode 5: Zach Galifianakis Wears a One-Armed Jacket
In this episode, we find out that every episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! has already been filmed, and they thought it would be fun to go ahead and show us the finale. But, don’t worry, there will be a brand new episode next week! This is one of the most creative episodes on the show, as it not only uses nearly every sitcom finale trope and brings back characters from all three seasons of the show, but it also foreshadows many jokes and characters that are included in episodes that follow including Clyde Bryllis (more on him to come, SPOILIES), Little Leland, and Dr. Time—a “Weird Al” character that also appears in number 14 of this very list (it is a purposeful time-travelling bit that I didn’t write about him up there, and I definitely did not just forget to include him). This episode also includes Jenny Lewis as bandleader, Scott’s parents, and the wedding of Andrew Lloyd Webber and a couch.
- Season 4, Episode 32: Judy Greer Wears a Navy Blouse and Strappy Sandals
They avoided it for years, but, eventually, every show has to do a hockey episode. Comedy Bang! Bang! made it 82 episodes before doing theirs, which is pretty impressive. Even though hockey episodes are a little cliché, CBBTV puts its unique twist on theirs as Kid CuDi is haunted by his past-life as a star hockey player. Judy Greer shows us her universal audition tape, sings us songs about hockey, and teaches us which U.S. states are which kind of erect penises. Tom Hanks also gives a great interview full of juicy gossip (juice goose). One of my favorite things about Comedy Bang! Bang! is they throw in jokes that are so specific to certain media experiences. In this episode, there is a parody of the ESPN fight simulation from the 2006 Rocky Balboa movie, and it cracks me up every time.
- Season 5, Episode 2: The Lonely Island Wear Dark Pants and Eyeglasses
“Weird Al” gets a mail-order robot girlfriend, Scott is a substitute teacher that doesn’t quite have a handle on what his students do and don’t like, and Gil Faison and George St. Geegland, from Broadway’s “Oh, Hello,” give what is possibly the funniest couch interview in the whole show, that has Scott and the entire Lazy Island (Angry Sandwich, Armron Chicone, and Akiva Schaffer) uncontrollably laughing for four straight minutes. Why don’t you take a look at a couple of those minutes.
- Season 4, Episode 29: A$AP Rocky Wears a Black Button Up Jacket and Black Sneakers
There are a few rare episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! that only have one couch guest, and, in my opinion, this is the best one. A$AP Rocky tries to teach Scott how to smoke weed and has a truly delightful repartee with Kid CuDi. Meanwhile, Scott’s lost phone, wallet, and keys go on a Toy Story-esque adventure to find their way back to Scott. And, Pharrell Williams is outed as a vampire!
- Season 3, Episode 9: Alison Brie Wears a Black Mesh Top and Mini-Skirt
Scott and Reggie realize the show is in serious financial trouble. But, not to worry, Giles Duggard (a not-so-subtle spoof of Gordon Ramsey) is here to save the day with his reality show, Talk Show Rescue. Also, Allison Brie teaches us which movie titles are actually stage directions, and film director Werner Herzog tells us about his upcoming project.
- Season 2, Episode 20: Zach Galifianakis Wears a Santa Suit
Comedy Bang! Bang! has three Christmas specials, and this season 2 finale is the best one! Reggie has accidentally thrown all the Christmas bonuses in the trash, and the cast and crew are not happy! Zach Galifianakis plays a hilarious and curiously charming interpretation of Santa, and Scott’s parents stop by for a trip down memory lane. We get a visit from the ghost of CBBTV’s previous segment producer played by Aidy Bryant, Scott plants a hidden camera in Reggie’s house, and we learn the disheartening tale of Grumple Gus.
- Season 3, Episode 6: Nick Offerman Wears a Green Flannel Shirt and Brown Boots
There has been a devastating earthquake on the set of Comedy Bang! Bang! and Scott decides—thanks to the advice of survivalist Clyde Bryllis—that the best thing for them to do is continue with the show like normal. Nick Offerman tells us about the “Daddy Likes it Shaky” edition of his aptly titled new movie, The Day the Earth Quaked. Scott’s elderly downstairs neighbor Effie Villalopolus, played by Kate McKinnon, reads some of the best complaint notes she has ever written and is angry about soup. CBBTV intern Monty, played by Kyle Mooney, is roaming the streets of a post-earthquake disaster area trying to provide levity and make a few extra bucks by selling overpriced hot dogs. All the while, Clyde Bryllis enslaves an underground race of intelligent worm beasts and saves the day.
- Season 2, Episode 13: Jessica Alba Wears a Jacket with Patent Leather Pumps
Many episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! take place in an alternate reality. In this episode, Scott and Reggie are a little girl’s dolls that come to life when she is out of the room and entertain themselves by making a talk show for no one. Jessica Alba finds creative ways to deal with being asked the same questions over and over. Gina Guppies, played by Kristen Schaal, is a brain aneurism survivor pitching her new flavors of Girl Scout cookies. Also, the set is visited by the King of Cards! This episode includes another Top 5 sketch, “Make the Sweater Better,” in which Scott sets out on a journey to improve people’s sweaters but ends up slowly transforming into Guy Fieri. This episode also has my favorite pod-buster where it is revealed just how much Scott hates doing chores.
- Season 1, Episode 5: Seth Rogen Wears a Plaid Shirt and Brown Pants
This is one of the most comedy-packed episodes of Comedy Bang! Bang! Reggie snacks inappropriately and sings about the value of editing, Scott’s mind-reading abilities get him into trouble, Seth Rogen explains that his parents usually gave him traveler’s checks as allowance for bully-related reasons, Topher Grace and Will Arnett are two passionate and very different camera operators, child bird-calling phenom Tommy Shalders hasn’t grown into the man he thought he would, Casey Wilson stops by to paint a bowl of fruit while Reggie paints Scott while he is talking to Casey Wilson while she is painting a bowl of fruit, the gang plays everyone’s favorite game “What’s Their Ailment?” and Scott has a righteous-rage charged rant in a segment called “Are You Kidding Me?” AND the show starts with this phenomenal song about walking to work.
- Season 2, Episode 11: Rainn Wilson Wears a Short Sleeved Plaid Shirt and Colorful Sneakers
Rainn Wilson reveals the lyrics to The Office theme song, how he battles erectile disfunction, and whether or not he cooks chili in a cauldron. Cowboy poet Dalton Wilcox teaches us about the importance of being wary of vampires and the ethics of fucking holes in the ground. CBBTV has a “New Friend Contest” to decide which new animal will join their gang of talking animals that grace the walls of the set (did I not mention there are a bunch of talking animals on the walls and that the furniture and books talk, too?). This episode includes another Top 5 sketch in “Chews to Lose,” where Scott helps restaurant patrons decide what not to eat. Also, Reggie can see through tortillas!
- Season 1, Episode 3: Jon Hamm Wears a Light Blue Shirt and Silver Watch
This episode, better than any other, defines the show Comedy Bang! Bang! Whenever I strongarm one of my friends or family members into watching this show, I always start with this episode. It is almost unreal how much comedy is stuffed into this episode. Peter the Meter Reader visits the set, Scott tries to surprise a fan on her doorstep but is beaten to the punch by Andy Richter, Jon Hamm tells us about an unusual morning in his life, Eddie Pepitone wins employee of the week and the power goes to his head very quickly, Spanish-language DJ El Chupacabra showcases his many characters, a Dog Lawyer does his best to work with a dog who pushed Timmy into the well in an act of premeditated violence, Francis Domingo is mistakenly brought on the show to display his talent for eating bicycles but it turns out he is eating them out of necessity because he is starving, and Scott imparts his personal opinions in his segment “Maybe It’s Just Me, but for Me.”
Thank you for reading! I will leave you with this clip of Scott directing and grabbing award-winning actor Jon Hamm’s face with his bare hands.