Despite all the craziness of Comedy Bang! Bang!, it’s almost always the smaller moments that are the ones that truly shine the brightest. “Michelle Monaghan Wears a Burnt Orange Dress and White Heels” does have it’s share of insanity, such as Scott being the inventor of salsa, or that his long-lost brother leaves the episode by heading to Elysium in a spaceship piloted by Chappie. But what has and always will make Comedy Bang! Bang! more than just a cheap shit, low-rent affair is the great moments between hosts and guests and characters, where even just one perfectly placed line can make an entire episode worthwhile.
There’s something quite charming about a Comedy Bang! Bang! guest you wouldn’t expect to get the show’s format and style and works wonderfully in the situation. Michelle Monaghan is one of those instances this week, where she completely indulges Scott’s questions about what the hell Matthew McConaughey’s “time is a flat circle” speech in True Detective means or turning the interview around to interrogate Scott on his love for The Last Airbender. Monaghan’s segment ends with her wrestling a hog named Dolph Piggler, then preparing to eat the uncooked pig parts, and yet somehow Monaghan does it with grace and a style that you’d expect, while also being pretty funny as well.
As with any episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! where he appears, the real star of “Michelle Monaghan” is Paul F. Tompkins, arriving this time as Alan Thicke. Tompkins’ Thicks is such a fantastic impersonation, as it basically feels like a combination of the real Alan, mixed with what you imagine an older Robin Thicke will be like.
Yet it’s never Tompkins’ impersonations that steal the show in CBB, it’s the dynamic between him and Scott that is so undeniably charming. The way they play off each other and pick on each other never fails to be incredibly fun. When Monaghan mentions that Kirk Cameron covered her walls as a child, they both race to reply “with what?” It’s such a perfect moment that it makes you wonder why Tompkins doesn’t just pop by every single week.
Near the end of Thicke’s portion, he goes around the room and starts writing theme songs for everyone, crafting surprisingly great off-the-cuff themes for both Monaghan and Cudi, before tackling Scott. His theme only lasts one line before everyone breaks, as Thicke sings: “sweater man, sitting on a chair,” as he laughs the show off to a commercial break. The general disinterest he has in writing a song for Scott is so hilarious, it makes for one of the best moments of the season.
“Michelle Monaghan” is filled with so many little great moments as well, such as Cudi’s protective nature towards Eric the PA. Cudi gets a lot of fun cuts to him this week and he’s still excellent at getting a great line or nod to the audience that makes him a wonderful addition to the show. Also great is Nick Swardson as Scott’s long lost brother Billy, who is clearly trying to get closer to Scott to get in on that salsa money, with only Cudi able to see what’s really going on. Swardson is so much fun here at being smarmy and slyly evil, as he casually borrows thousands of dollars from Scott throughout the episode. Yes, somehow an episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! that features two of the stars of Pixels is a fantastic episode.
“Michelle Monaghan” is Comedy Bang! Bang! keeping it simple and fun, making the character dynamics what really makes the episode work, rather than all too crazy story ideas or cutaway segments. But whenever you’ve got PFT on your show, you’re gonna knock yourself out regardless.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.