When Comedy Bang! Bang! returns to IFC tonight with its third-season premiere, we see not one, not two, but three different pairings of host Scott Aukerman and musical sidekick impresario Reggie Watts!!!
“We decided to do a tribute to Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, because we thought – that’s the third Raiders movie – this is our season three,” Aukerman told The Comic’s Comic. “So we watched that and thought that would be really funny to show the beginnings of Scott and Reggie as kids. In the same way that River Phoenix was the beginning of Harrison Ford. So it was kind of our little tribute to that. And we blew A LOT of our budget on that.”
“Thank you! It was not a good use of our money.”
Aukerman sat down with The Comic’s Comic to discuss the third season of CBB — which includes The Roast of Reggie Watts (as teased above!), a Late Night Wars battle between Aukerman and Fred Armisen, an Ed Sullivan 1960s episode, a never-before-seen twist episode with Zach Galifianakis, time travel, earthquakes and more. Patton Oswalt and Vanessa Bayer guest star in tonight’s season premiere. Other guest stars include Alison Brie, Paul Brittain, Lizzy Caplan, Jenna Fischer, Josh Groban, Tony Hawk, Taran Killam, Kate McKinnon, Bob Odenkirk, Nick Offerman, Adam Pally, Craig Robinson, Tim Robinson, Paul Scheer, Ben Schwartz, Lynne Marie Stewart, Dave Thomas and Paul F. Tompkins. Also: James Adomian, Jason Alexander, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, David Alan Grier, Steve Little, Jenny Lewis, Aimee Mann, Kevin McDonald, Larry Miller, Jerry Minor, Kyle Mooney, Kevin Pollak, Richard Riehle, Michael Showalter, French Stewart, Maria Thayer, Lucas Till, Matt Walsh, Fred Willard and Weird Al Yankovic.
That’s a lot of guests.
Then again, CBB’s third season is 20 episodes in two batches, the first half running now through July 10, then the second half from Oct. 16 to Dec. 18. IFC already has ordered 40 more episodes to cover all of 2015 in a fourth season!
Here’s a clip from tonight’s third-season premiere in which Scott Aukerman and Patton Oswalt agree to disagree. Roll it!
What about the casting sessions for the two Scotts and two Reggies?
“It was an uncomfortable session. I basically forced them all to strip down naked. I was naked, of course, and we were doing the mirror exercise. Trying to see if you could accurately mirror what I was doing. And then at one point, I got a lot of criticism, because they were young boys being naked in, essentially, you would call it a broom closet. Except there were no brooms. And yeah, it was very uncomfortable – very damaging to the show and to its reputation.”
That’s your tribute to Bryan Singer. Allegedly.
The third season of CBB – at least with the first episode, ends in an almost Seinfeldian way, what with all of the subplots coming together in a single punchline.
“Oh. OK! Yeah. Seinfeld sort of did that…I hadn’t thought of that before.”
Do the other episodes follow that structure?
“Not really. I mean, we always try to wrap it up in an interesting way. That’s what we did on Mr. Show. I remember the one that I worked on that I really loved was the Bloopers episode, where you see David vomit after looking in a box, and then we came up with the very last sketch of that, was one I wrote called The Burgandy Loaf, where it was a restaurant so fancy it didn’t have a bathroom. So you had to go to the bathroom in a box. And John Ennis playing a chimney sweep who’d scrub your bum afterward. He’d collect the box and then he’d deliver it to good boys and girls and it ended with him delivering one to Bob and David, and David took a look in it and threw up. It was kind of a circular thing, that I had never really been a part of, on a sketch show. I remember they’d done it, one where they had a banana at the top of the episode, and then at the very end of the episode, it was a future of monkey people who were very excited when they put in the videotape and they saw him holding a banana. That always had a big effect on me. So we always try to do something interesting at the ends to make people want to stick around to the end. I really like the everything going back circularly.”
The episode I’m perhaps looking most forward to, and that’s perhaps because of my milieu…
“The one about a very popular blogger? Who’s a poon hound?”
I was going to say the one that’s a Roast of Reggie Watts.
“Oh. OK! I thought that it was the one that was appealing to you! Yeah. I’m looking forward to that one, too. That’s kind of late in the season. Might be November when that comes out. It’s a really funny one.”
How did that come together?
“Well, it was one that, I don’t know if you know a young man with a dream by the name of Tim Kalpakis, one of The Birthday Boys.” Yeah. “He wrote a really episode called The Roast of Reggie Watts. I don’t want to give away any of the plot. But we had it. And we needed people who had actually done roasts before. And I pretty much said, if Jeff Ross doesn’t do this, I don’t think we’re going to do the episode. Because he was really integral to it, in my opinion. No one really says roasts like Jeff Ross. You could have gotten a lot of different other people, but it wouldn’t have been the same. So, I know Jeff, and I sent this to him. I said, ‘We wrote this for you, and I really hope you like it.’ And he told me that he doesn’t really do roast stuff. But it was so funny that he had to do it. To honor it. Because it was such great writing. And he told us that several times that day. ‘Please pass it on to your writers. It was so funny I had to do it.’ So, it was great. We got such a good group of people. We got Jeff. We got Whitney Cummings, who immediately wanted to do it. Anthony Jeselnik, of course, I’ve known for a really long time. He wanted to do it. Lisa Lampanelli really wanted to do it and there was bad weather in New York and she couldn’t get a flight out. She was going to come out, so I was really bummed about that. But, yeah – it’s a really funny episode, and Reggie was very excited to do it, and I think people are going to really like it.”
So Tim pitched it in the room as a roast of Reggie?
“The backstory was we knew we wanted to do a Roast episode, but we didn’t know the take on it. That’s usually how the writing goes. You go, for instance, ‘I want to do a Musical episode.’ Well, why? We always say why is it happening? You can’t just go, it’s happening because it’d be fun to do a Musical episode. Then your show isn’t about anything. So it’s about finding the take. With the Musical episode, we wrote nine drafts of it before we finally hit on the take that made it special, which was Andrew Lloyd Webber loves the show, loves the talk show, but he hates all the talking. When we finally figured that out, and figured out it was going to be our attempt to improve upon a talk show, do a talk show with just singing everywhere, we were like, yeah, I get it now. With the Roast, it’s very similar. Roasts are a thing. It would be fun to do a roast. But why are we doing it? And Tim, I don’t know who actually pitched the take – it could have been several people – but when we hit on the take of why it was happening, then Tim went and wrote a really funny draft. That’s usually how it goes. We’re doing a Black-and-White 1960s episode this year. That’s sort of like Ed Sullivan. It’s just figuring out why it’s happening is always the hardest thing. We’re like prepping season four. We have some ideas. Some of them are left over from season three and they’re really good, and you just have to find out that reason of why they’re happening, because you can’t just do stuff for fun.”
It seems like you do, though! Sometimes, how is this even a talk show?
“But if you’re watching it and it makes sense to you, that means we’re doing our job to make it make sense to you. The whole reason the Musical episode made sense was because we did 10, 11 drafts of it until it made sense. It seems like an easy job of – anything can happen! – but we’re very, we work really hard on the writing to at least make sense to us.”
Well, with Andrew Lloyd Webber you had as a character on the podcast so he had some familiarity and grounding with the CBB universe.
“With the musical, the first idea was we want to have a musical. It was just a pastiche of I had a guest on and we’d sing Suddenly Seymour type love song. There was never – we’d sing a Phantom of the Opera type song, but there was never any reason for why it was happening. When we figured out, oh, the Phantom has a talk show of his own. And he’s jealous. So he kidnaps Casey Wilson. Then it makes sense. The motivations behind the characters are what makes it make sense.”
Have you tried to do a take on Letterman’s retirement and late-night openings?
“That’s episode four.”
So Louie’s take didn’t dissuade you.
“No. I mean, Louie did more of a realistic take of what it’d be like to be in that situation. Ours is definitely more fantastical. But we have one episode where Fred Armisen and I are competing for the same talk show. And it’s very Late-Night Wars centric of an episode. Very timely. We shot it before the Colbert and Letterman stuff, so I’m actually glad it’s episode four, because it’s going to come out relatively soon.”
Are there any ideas you just haven’t been able to figure out the take on yet?
“There’s one I guess I still haven’t figured out, which we’re going to try to do in season four. Which is sort of our tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, where every act is one unbroken shot. So it’s trying to figure out why that’s happening. Yeah! It’d be cool to do it, but you have to figure out why in our reality it would happen, and thematically what it means, and try to do it in a different way from every other TV show has done it before. And then why are the characters…?”
Editor’s strike? Cameraman strike?
“There you go. Are you auditioning to be part of the writing staff?”
Not yet! Just spitballin’
“I love it. Please. Spitball away.”
As long as you credit it to Plot Authorman.
“OK. Great! Will do. Editor’s strike.”
One camera. No editors.
“Editors, by the way, have the hardest job in show business. The director, all he has to say is ‘Cut.’ An editor actually has to cut the scene before the director says ‘cut,’ otherwise you hear the director saying ‘cut.’ It’s tough.”
That’s why they had to resolve that Last Comic Standing issue so quickly!
“Otherwise you’d have people watching Last Comic Standing and every single time you’d hear ‘cut, cut, cut, cut.’”
You’d have to watch the comedians walk offstage.
“That is the weirdest part of watching a comedian, is watching them waddle offstage. In shame.”
That’s really why you’ve stayed out of stand-up comedy, isn’t it.
“It’s the worst. I have a TV show. It’s so much better than doing stand-up. Because once the show ends and people, they watch it and go, ‘I bet he walked offstage.’ They go to bed and go to sleep that night and realize, yeah, he probably walked offstage. But they don’t have to watch it. When I do a live tour, they watch me walk offstage. Ugh. That’s the worst.”
You do get to show viewers what you and your guests are talking about in and out of commercial, though.
“That is true. We are one of the only shows that does that. The actual conversations we have. Someday we’ll tape those actual conversations we have that actually happen during commercials. Right now, you only get to hear the last 10 seconds of them.”
It’s a tease. Anything else you want to tease about this season?
“So far I’ve seen six of the episodes. The cool thing about the show is we get to do something different with each one. Our fifth episode is something really cool that’s never been done before on TV in my opinion. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do since Mr. Show and it got turned down by Mr. Show, but I think it’s never been done before and people will be really interested in it, and it has far-reaching effects on the Comedy Bang! Bang! universe. So it’s our fifth episode, Zach Galifianakis. We have a time-travel episode also coming up pretty late in the season that I think will blow people’s minds. Every episode is a cool, unique idea, which I love. It’s not like doing a real talk show where every single time you have to interview someone boring, has the same format. Every episode is really fun.”
Does that make Between Two Ferns boring, then, relatively?
“Oh yeah. Between Two Ferns is super boring. You ever watch it?”
“It’s terrible. Even so. What can you do? It’s just a fake talk show.”
Scott Aukerman’s other fake talk show, Comedy Bang! Bang!, returns tonight on IFC.