To create a great episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!, the show essentially needs three things: a fun story with an amusing presence, a guest that plays well off host Scott Aukerman and a fantastic character guest that can consistently surprise you, even if they’re already a known entity in the CBB world (and extra bonus points if you make Scott and his guest break character). Comedy Bang! Bang! often has at least two of these nailed down, but when all three work together in one episode, the show becomes one of the best comedies on TV, as it does in “Judy Greer Wears a Navy Blouse and Strappy Sandals.”
I’ve said it before, but Comedy Bang! Bang! just feels more complete with Kid Cudi as co-host. Since he joined the crew halfway through this season, the co-host has been given far more to do and Cudi’s storylines have been incredibly fun. Cudi is also phenomenal at interacting with Scott during interviews, as he does this week, joining in on Scott’s attempt to “make it rain” with imaginary money. It’s stupidly funny just watching Scott do it, but having Cudi doing it as well is priceless.
Once again, Cudi’s story is silly and dumb, but it’s a great combination that actually works. Thanks to an episode of “Sporty 4:40,” the CBB crew discovers that before becoming a musician, Cudi was a professional hockey player known as “The IceCat.” The only player to rival The IceCat is Olie “The Goaltender” Marcoux, played by Jon Dore. The two were meant to face off in a shootout, but since Cudi lost one of his cat’s eye contact lenses on the ice, the contest never continued. Now a decade later, Marcoux wants to finally see who would’ve been the victor. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: this is one of those hockey episodes you see on TV all the time.
“Judy Greer” focuses on the story just the right amount, with it never being more important than it really needs to be. We get a callback to “Sports Circumference,” showing a animated simulation predicting Cudi will trip on the ice, the stick will bonk him on the head and then he’ll start crying on the ice—which is exactly what happens. There’s also a commercial for “Puck Jams,” where Scott and Judy Greer sing hockey themed songs, including “What’s Hockey?” where Greer sings “it’s kind of like Quiddich on ice.” Like last week’s “Uzo Aduba,” the episode doesn’t go for the usual out-of-studio segments that don’t really tie into the episode, rather taking little diversions on the topic at hand. It’s a small choice that makes for a much more cohesive episode.
Greer is one of those rare guests that knows exactly how to play along in the CBB world. She’s especially wonderful when she’s interacting with both Scott and Cudi, like when they discuss which states look like penises or while watching them make it rain. Her rapport with Scott is so much fun, like when she tells a librarian joke so cheesy, even Scott doesn’t laugh at it. That’s a new level of low that I’ve never seen another guest achieve before. Well done.
But no matter how great the story and guest is, “Judy Greer” was going to be phenomenal regardless thanks to the return of Ben Schwartz’s publicist Rodney Waber. Schwartz is doing a similarly strange character to the work he did on College Humor’s “Jake & Amir” shorts, but it’s still perfect to have him doing the same type of character in this context. Comedy Bang! Bang! is smart to just let Schwartz go and do whatever he wants, whether it’s saying “there’s mud on my tits” instead of “there’s egg on my face,” much to the frustration of Greer, or finding out what ghosts are for the first time. Another extra ingredient of a great episode of CBB: make a joke that only podcast listeners will fully appreciate, such as when Waber asks if Scott remembers Staind, to which he replies “yeah, it’s been a while.” It’s a great joke without knowing where it comes from, but knowing its origins on the podcast and having it appear on the show left me in tears.
“Judy Greer Wears a Navy Bluse and Strappy Sandals” is an excellent example of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s various elements firing on all cylinders. Scott, Cudi, Greer and Schwartz all play off so well together and it elevates the episode into greatness status. Comedy Bang! Bang! rarely has mud on its tits, but “Judy Greer” is CBB at its best and knowing exactly how to combine its characters and stories into an excellent half-hour of comedy.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.