Scott Aukerman doesn’t host Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC, so much as he presides over a circus of characters and interviews that aren’t interviews, to the point where any viewers who thought they’d tuned into a proverbial late-night talk show come to realize that they’ll enjoy it once they embrace the absurdity of it all.
The show returns for its second season on Friday. As does Aukerman’s right-hand, two-handed musical genius of a sidekick in Reggie Watts. And a guest list that includes Jessica Alba, Aziz Ansari, David Cross, Zach Galifianakis, Bill Hader, Pee-wee Herman, Rashida Jones, Anna Kendrick, Jack McBrayer, Zoe Saldana, Andy Samberg, Ben Schwartz, Jason Schwarztman, Adam Scott, Sarah Silverman, Paul F. Tompkins, “Weird” Al Yankovic and many more surprises inside. Here’s a sizzle reel to whet your Comedy Bang! Bang! appetite!
Aukerman spoke to The Comic’s Comic in a way in which he hadn’t spoken with any other interviewer, because he hadn’t. He spoke to The Comic’s Comic.
Scott, you have Reggie Watts with you again this season, but if for some reason he weren’t available, how would you ever have replaced him?
“I don’t know. It never really got even close to that. I haven’t spent one minute thinking about it. We probably would have pretended that music didn’t exist. The first episode, we would have shown that it was filmed in a dystopian future where music wasn’t allowed, and Reggie was executed. We’d show that on tape, or shoot him for real. And then we’d do the 20 episodes.”
So no musical substitutes acceptable, then?
“Do you know something I don’t know? Is Reggie not coming back?”
“Thankfully Reggie wanted to do it. He gets to do cool stuff in the show,” Aukerman said. They met back in October to discuss how much Watts would participate in bits and sketches with Aukerman, to find the right balance. “He said he wanted to be a cop this year.” And so he is.
You wouldn’t even replace Reggie with Jellyfish?
“Yes.” “We both found out we have a love for the band Jellyfish…We’d sing it every day on the set. Someone would go, ‘Which song is this?’ And I’d sing a line…”
“So, yes. I agree. If Jellyfish were available, I’d drop Reggie in a hot second. Or a hot minute. Whichever one is quicker?”
You also scored a sit-down with Pee-wee Herman on the show. That stems from your real-life one-on-one interview with Paul Reubens at SXSW in 2011, correct?
“Slightly. That contributed to it. He had a really good time at that interview. A lot of it had to with one of our writers, Paul Rust, who works with Paul (Reubens). They wrote the new Pee-wee movie together. Paul Rust would talk to Paul Reubens about the show and about me and said flattering things. So Mr. Reubens had a good opinion about doing it.”
“We had a talk about how much his comedy and his show influenced the show. It was really fantastic. He and Paul Rust wrote really great new Pee-wee bits for the show. They’ve never been seen. They’re really great.”
Aukerman said Pee-wee’s Playhouse and David Letterman were the biggest influences on his own comedic style. “For me to be the ersatz Letterman is a thrill for me,” he said. Ersatz? “The last time I said it, Bob Odenkirk told me I was saying it wrong.” Not this time. This time, Aukerman nailed it.
Your relationship with IFC has some irony to it, seeing as you started out on-air doing interstitial interviews with celebrities to prove yourself as a capable talk-show host and interviewer, only so you could then turn around and lampoon the format with CBB. How was that?
“I think, there was one day where I was doing those interstitials where I had Paul F. Tompkins on. We were talking about serious topics, a serious reminiscence of Mr. Show, ostensibly, but it devolved into bits. (IFC’s) Dan Pasternack, he was there, and I think he saw that. He said, ‘That’s a show.’ So, he really pushed for it. He has known me for a while. He always was disappointed that I went more into writing than into performing. He thought I was a great performer…back during the old comedy deal…For him to fight for me and believe in me at the network, it was a strange and circuitous process. It took a long, winding road to do those interstitials first to prove that I looked good on camera. From those interstitials to the next day of filming the pilot, I dropped 25 pounds. Literally. That made them see I was talking it seriously. That I was ready to do it. That was one example of me taking the job of being on TV seriously.”
That’s something. Even being a comedic talk-show host, you’d think you’d need to lose 25 pounds just to be on camera?!
“People with symmetrically faces. being on TV is their only job…People who aren’t topically handsome, we have to work harder.”
Isn’t that the whole point, though, of why you’re in late-night?
“Yeah, David Letterman isn’t handsome. He didn’t have TV good looks. He didn’t even have good looks!”
With all of the expansion into late-night TV talk by various cable channels, do you feel that helps make CBB stand out just a little bit more since you’re going against the standard template?
“The great thing about all of the late-night jockeying, all the ‘Late Shift’ stuff that goes on, that people still care passionately about the talk-show format, so when a show like mine comes along that plays with it…If we were just doing it as a sketch show…we could do that…but people wouldn’t feel as comfortable with it. You need Reggie and I on that set to make it feel grounded.”
Isn’t there a different way we can be doing late-night talk, though?
“How about tasting them? Maybe food podcasts. Not podcasts about food, but podcasts as food. What if like The Jetsons. you could take the podcast as a pill and digest it. It’s like aspirin. We’re selling it now. And maybe my grandfather owned an abandoned aspirin factory.”
You and your fans also like to have fun calling you by variations of your name. Do you have a favorite?
“Hot Saucerman is the classic. It’s like Coke Classic. I think it’s funny when people send me these names on Twitter, like I’ve never heard them before. Sometimes when (one of them) is on TV, they’ll write to me and say, ‘Why didn’t I get credit?’ You and about 20,000 other people. There’s got to be some other iteration that hasn’t been put forth yet. That’s the challenge O want to set forth to your readers. If i see it and it’s unique, I will give you part ownership of the show.”
Me? Or the person who suggested the name?
“To you. Of course.”
Well, if that’s not enough incentive right there, then I don’t know what would be.
In the meantime, you already can watch a full episode if you like from the second season — this episode has Sarah Silverman on it. Enjoy…
Comedy Bang! Bang! begins its second season on IFC at 10 p.m. Eastern/Pacific, Friday, July 12, 2013.