Comedy Bang! Bang!
Comedy Bang! Bang! (formerly Comedy Death-Ray Radio) is a weekly comedy audio podcast, which originally began airing as a radio show on May 1, 2009. It is hosted by writer and comedian Scott Aukerman, best known for his work on the 1990s HBO sketch comedy program Mr. Show with Bob and David, creating and hosting the Comedy Bang! Bang! TV series, as well as for co-founding the weekly Comedy Death-Ray stage show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Hollywood.
|Hosted by||Scott Aukerman|
Paul F. Tompkins
Jerry Minor as Cyber Thug
|Genre||Comedy, comedy music, absurdism, improv, entertainment, talk|
|Opening theme||"Comedy Bang! Bang!" opening theme by Reggie Watts|
|Ending theme||"Closing Up the Plugbag"|
Closing theme performers:
Ken Marino and Casey Wilson (2012–2015)[a]
Ben Schwartz and Horatio Sanz (2016–present)
|No. of episodes||645 (as of March 19, 2020) (list of episodes)|
|Original release||May 1, 2009 – present|
|Website||Comedy Bang Bang|
Comedy Death-Ray Radio was formerly broadcast from Southern California's Indie 103 studios, but since the summer of 2010 has been broadcast as part of the Earwolf comedy podcasting network, being recorded in studios owned by the company.
Many notable people in the world of comedy, music, television and film have appeared on the podcast, including Paul F. Tompkins, Lauren Lapkus, Jason Mantzoukas, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Aimee Mann, Jon Hamm, Aziz Ansari, Adam Scott, Patton Oswalt, Seth Rogen, Thomas Lennon, Zach Galifianakis, Ben Stiller, David Cross, Bob Odenkirk, St. Vincent, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler, James Adomian, Harris Wittels, Michael Cera, Tim Heidecker, Nick Kroll, Loudon Wainwright III, Matt Besser, Kevin Nealon, and Andy Daly.
Comedy Death-Ray Radio first aired May 1, 2009, after Aukerman gained permission from Indie 103 to conduct a "one-month tryout". The first episode's guests were Rob Huebel and Thomas Lennon. During occasions when Aukerman has been unable to host, Paul F. Tompkins, Chris Hardwick, Jimmy Pardo or Jerry Minor (in character as "Cyberthug") have guest hosted. Although normally produced in Los Angeles, the show has also been taped in Vancouver, Seattle, New York City, Chicago and Austin.
On the May 15, 2011 "Two-year Anniversary" podcast, Aukerman announced that the show's name was changing to Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast. He went on to say that the show had evolved a great deal in its first two years, and he credited his wife Kulap Vilaysack with coming up with the new name.
Red Hot Chili Peppers parodyEdit
In episode 204 (which aired on March 4, 2013), "The Pepper Men," guests Jon Daly and Zach Galifianakis professed their love for the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Both claimed to be "huge Pepper Men" and had written a song in tribute to the band titled "Abracadabralifornia", which Daly sang using his best Anthony Kiedis imitation.
On January 29, 2014, a very official-looking website called www.RHCP2014.com appeared online claiming to have the brand-new Chili Peppers song, "Abracadabralifornia". The song even featured a layout for the band's upcoming Super Bowl appearance, complete with sponsors' logos. Various people through websites including Twitter and Facebook at first were fooled by the song, although many quickly realized that it was a parody. The song was written and performed by Daly and musician Cyrus Ghahremani. Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith Tweeted his approval of the song.
Format and featuresEdit
The podcast begins with a theme song composed and performed by Reggie Watts, followed by the reading of a listener-submitted catchphrase, under the pretense that one will eventually replace the show's original catchphrase, “What’s up, hot dog?”
The show's format mixes conversation between the host and guests with comedy songs and occasionally game segments. Some guests play characters or impersonate certain celebrities, sometimes for the entirety of the episode. The show's most frequent guest Paul F. Tompkins has impersonated celebrities such as rapper Ice-T, directors Garry Marshall and Werner Herzog, actor John C. Reilly, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, actor Alan Thicke, actor Danny Glover, Cake Boss's Buddy Valastro; other frequent guests such as James Adomian has played public television personality Huell Howser, Jesse Ventura, Paul Giamatti, Christopher Hitchens, actor Gary Busey, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, politician Bernie Sanders and food critic Merrill Shindler.
For the first few months of the program, comedian Doug Benson would semi-regularly call the program and give several "8 Words or Less Movie Reviews".
Occasionally the podcast is taped with a live audience, usually at comedy shows or at festival events.
In the last third of the show, Aukerman and his guests will often play one of several improv-style games. Examples of games played include:
- "Would You Rather?", in which the guests are presented with two typically absurd scenarios; following a brief question-and-answer session with answers made up on the spot by Aukerman, the contestants are asked to choose one of the options, with points given after each round.
- "Riddle Me This", in which one person comes up with a question that is the setup for a joke. An example would be "What's brown and is often spotted near a fast-food restaurant?". The other contestants then come up with answers and vote whose answer was the funniest.
- "Freestyle Rap Battle/Contest", in which the guests take turns performing a freestyle rap.
- "What Am I Thinking?", in which two guests (or Scott) count down together from three and attempt to use word association to say the same word.
The following games have been played on the podcast in the past, but not recently:
- "Jukebox Jury", in which Scott and the guests rate songs sent in by listeners as either "mustard" or "pants", although the meanings of the ratings is unknown.
- "Alive or Dead", in which Scott gives the guests the name of a celebrity and they must determine if that celebrity is alive or dead. The people in question are usually alive but their fictional deaths are described in a humorous way.
- "Who Said It?", in which guests name the person to whom a given quote is attributed.
- "Hollywood Facts", in which Scott and guests list fake celebrity gossip news. This game has largely been discontinued, however the game's theme music is regularly played when guest Andy Samberg appears on the podcast because Samberg recorded it.
Occasionally, guests will present their own features on the show. Examples include:
- "Harris' Foam/Phone Corner", in which Harris Wittels recited jokes, text-messaged to himself, which were deemed unworthy of his stand-up performances, and was ridiculed for his efforts.
- "New No-Nos", in which Paul Rust makes up new rules for life and the world; which he refers to as New No-Nos. Nearly every new rule is a ridiculous idea that can already be accomplished without consequence.
- "The Solo Bolo Olympic Song Challenge", in which Ben Schwartz and Scott sing a myriad of different songs, jingles, and show-tunes, with minimal regard to pitch and rhythm. They ostensibly attempt to seamlessly transition between songs that have some sort of connection to one another. These connections can include being by the same artist, including the same word, or in many cases, having absolutely no relation.
GQ has praised the show, calling it "one of the preeminent places to hear not only the stalwarts of stand-up... but also lesser known comics, like Natasha Leggero, Chelsea Peretti, and Brett Gelman."
The A.V. Club says "The guests are routinely top-notch, the show has a de facto company of ace improvisers enlivening each episode, and Scott Aukerman is a gleefully indulgent host", also saying "For comedy fans, Comedy Bang Bang is essential listening." It frequently appears in the Podmass column, highlighting the best podcasts of each week, and the website named Comedy Bang! Bang! the best podcast of 2013.
"It’s perhaps the easiest show to single out as a juggernaut; the podcast is ten years in with over 600 episodes, a testament to creator Scott Aukerman’s unparalleled collaboration prowess." — Vulture
- a The "Closing Up the Plugbag" closing theme (the Ken Marino, Steve Agee & Casey Wilson version used from 2012 to 2015) features a growing number of ending tags by Adam Pally, Brendon Small and Paul F. Tompkins.
- A Special Thing Forums: "Comedy Death-Ray Radio starts today!"
- ColdTowne Theater Blog: "THIS JUST IN! COMEDY DEATH RAY INVADES COLDTOWNE." Archived 2010-03-01 at the Wayback Machine
- "These Times They Are A-Changin'". Earwolf. Retrieved 2013-07-13.
- Newman, Jason (January 30, 2014). "Red Hot Chili Peppers Parody Song Fools Everyone". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
- Rottenberg, Josh (June 23, 2011). "Comedy podcasts are booming. What are some of your favorites?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
- Berkowitz, Joe (April 6, 2011). "The 10 Best Comedy Podcasts of the Moment". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
- "Listen to This! Comedy Death-Ray Radio". GQ. January 29, 2010. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
- "Podmass' best podcasts of 2011". The A.V. Club. December 30, 2011. Retrieved April 22, 2016.
- "The best podcasts of 2013". The A.V. Club. December 4, 2013. Retrieved January 20, 2016.
- James, Becca (2019-10-03). "The 10 Essential Comedy Podcasts That Shaped the Genre". Vulture.