SCOTT AUKERMAN'S TV show Comedy Bang! Bang! is a weird, wonderful, improvisational mishmash of comedy and near-performance art, led by Aukerman and his "bandleader," musician and comedian Reggie Watts. The show that premiered on IFC in June is modeled on the podcast that's been going for three years now, which is modeled on a live show that's been running in LA for nearly a decade. And now IFC is taking Aukerman on the road with a live version of the TV show, to promote that.
Comedy Bang! Bang! defies easy description. It's pretty much entirely improvised, so even though Aukerman might have a basic idea for each show, he doesn't really know what's going to happen until it does. If you aren't familiar with Aukerman, you might know his work: He co-created Between Two Ferns with Zack Galifianakis (stop and Google that show right now if you haven't seen it) and directed a number of episodes. Comedy Bang! Bang! is two parts Between Two Ferns, two parts Reggie Watts' live show, one part Pee-wee's Playhouse, and a dash of comedians screwing around and trying to make each other laugh. And Aukerman, whose super-calm demeanor is juuuuust creepy enough to be funny, holds it all together.
As Aukerman explained in our interview, "The two similarities that Comedy Bang! Bang! the podcast and Comedy Bang! Bang! the TV show have are that, at the core, it's myself as a talk show host. I interview comedians and celebrities, and I also interview comedians playing fake people and fake celebrities. If people haven't seen it before they have to keep in mind that it's not real. But then again, TV isn't real. I mean if CSI were real, Las Vegas would be the most dangerous place to live."
On the TV show, Aukerman jams 10 to 20 different guests into his 22 minutes—more than any other talk show out there, real or fake—and it's that steady stream of guests that gives the show its strange but funny feeling of barely controlled mayhem. For the live show, he's got fewer guests, but they're faces you'll recognize from the show. The cast changes a little with each city they visit; in Portland, Aukerman and Watts will be joined by Paul F. Tompkins, James Adomian, and Kurt Braunohler. Braunohler is also along to promote his new IFC show, Bunk. Bunk is another improv-for-TV show, pitting comedians against each other in a series of strange and surreal challenges.
The live show, says Aukerman, will have "more prepared material, sort of akin to the stand-up show we do in LA. Then we'll show clips from the TV show and some stuff inspired by the TV show. Then the last half is a totally improvised podcast recording, with people doing different characters."
"We're trying," he says, "to take every element of what we do at Comedy Bang! Bang!, from the TV show to the podcast to the live show [in LA], and fuse them all together into one super mecha root that will decimate cities as we go through them. And for anyone who's never heard of the show or of me, what better way to be introduced? There are terrible ways: Someone steals your wallet, the doctor who tells you your beloved mother is dying. Those are terrible ways to be introduced to someone. This way, you get to come see a fun show, and laugh a lot."