Comedy Bang! Bang! is a strange show; anyone can see that. A typical episode of the TV show can go anywhere and do anything, breaking the laws of time, space and most often, any form of logic. That’s one of the main strengths of Comedy Bang! Bang!: the show can basically do anything it wants and get as insane as it wants. Yet, compared to most episodes, “Amber Tamblyn Wears A Leather Jacket and Black Booties” is much calmer—even with the appearance of a stabby orphan. And because of the toning down of that wackiness, we get one of the best episodes of the back half of this season.
One of the biggest detriments to this season has been the attempts to frame the entire episode under one idea, instead of letting things run wild. When it works, it’s great, but when it doesn’t, it can bring the whole episode down. Thankfully “Amber Tamblyn” works incredibly well. As this is the show’s Thanksgiving episode, Reggie is preparing a Thanksgiving dinner for Scott, the guests and a few of Reggie’s friends. But Reggie called his feast “The Roast of Reggie Watts” and his friends are The Kings of Zings: Jeff Ross, Whitney Cummings and Anthony Jeselnik. So Scott is naturally worried about his friend/band leader.
This arc naturally doesn’t go the way it’s expected, with all the guests being incredibly kind to Reggie, even calling him the “guy we would never want to insult,” but then changing their minds once Reggie’s turkey is awful. This arc works, because it’s great to see these three actually being nice. And when Scott bring the zings to back up his friends, the jokes are so bad and yet so hurtful to the three roasters. It’s also just really fun to have an episode that centers around Reggie.
Amber Tamblyn is also pretty fun and over-the-top as the guest this week, and she’s given a lot of weird ideas, such as the fact that she has to sneeze almost immediately or she’ll die, and that extended fart. But it’s Scott and Amber’s back-and-forth about Amber borrowing Scott’s pants, which have travelled quite a distance over the last decade, that is the highlight of the interview.
But what makes “Amber Tamblyn” truly great is the return of Fourvel, Bobby Moynihan’s incredible orphan character who likes to stab and curse. The childish speech of Fourvel, followed by the vicious outbursts have made Fourvel one of Comedy Bang! Bang!’s favorite guests, and here he is just perfect. Everything Fourvel says is gold—there’s the part where he just wants a thimble full of gravy for Thanksgiving, talking about his usual Thanksgiving feast of street rat, and then there’s his disgust for Paul Giamatti. It’s hard to not love the shabby scamp.
By nailing the show’s format and a great lineup of guests—including one of the best characters in Comedy Bang! Bang! history—“Amber Tamblyn” is one of the strongest entries this season and a fantastic Thanksgiving episode that’ll zing ya.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.