For those who have only watched Comedy Bang! Bang! the TV show and haven’t experienced the podcast, there’s a certain level of structure to the show that is missing from the podcast. For example, in the most recent episode of the podcast, a health teacher/bongo player played by Andy Daly turns out to have a split personality that murders people, diversions occurred involving Jason Mantzoukas discussing what he would and wouldn’t do for charity, and there’s a surprise visit by Paul F. Tompkins’ Jarles and an entire audience of guests that appeared for a minute, only to disappear as quickly as they came. The podcast has a level of throwing as many different ideas and characters into the mix as possible. What’s great about “Carly Rae Jepsen” is that it also has that freeform feeling to it.
This grouping of episodes has been pretty structured so far and better than ever for it, but “Carly Rae Jepsen” really reminds me of how great this show can also be when it’s throwing crazy things into the story just for the hell of it. We learn that after every episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!, Scott likes to put a couple inches of hot beef inside his mouth. I’m talking about a burger my dear lad! Zeke the security guard is in charge of guarding his post-show burger, but is foiled by the Hamrobberer, who steals Scott’s burger. When Zeke refuses to shoot the Hamrobberer, he is fired, but then comes back as RobotCop, who is swift in judgment with shows of force that are not proportionate to the crimes.
More than ever, this season seems interested in creating an entire world of CBB staff, which only adds another fun level to this show. Eric the PA has almost become as much a sidekick as Kid Cudi, and with Mitch getting shot in the knee for accidentally taking a pen, it’s great to see The Birthday Boys appearing on camera as much as possible. Zeke’s story is a reminder of how great the show’s recent film parodies have been, as we discover that he used his family computer to make a RobotCop costume and get his job back, and instead of flashing back to his own memories, he’s flashing back to his own computer’s memories. I also believe that the Hamrobberer should cause more problems on this show in the future, maybe even teaming up with The Quizzler?
Compared to other guests in this group of episodes, Carly Rae Jepsen seems a little more lost than most. She gets less air time than most of the other guests, but her few moments are enjoyable. Her back-and-forth with Scott when he believes her song “I Really Like You” is an announcement of her feelings towards Scott is great, as is her decision to make Tom Hanks audition for the video, instead of just Casting Away.
Tim Duncan (Paul Scheer) is another in a long line of great characters we’ve already seen since this show’s return. Duncan owns an amusement park where people fly out of the rides, get stuck upside on them for over an hour and even get salmonella. There’s an injury every other day, open carry is allowed in the park and there are apparently rapists just running around. Making it even worse is Duncan is a vaper! CBB characters and guests are always better when you can tell that Scott likes them and Scheer makes it obvious that Scott loves improvising with him in this way.
For the first time since he’s joined the show, Kid Cudi mostly sits this one out, occasionally giving some great reaction shots, but little else. After last week’s hilarious Temptations skit, Scott gets his own with “Don’t Just Tell Me, Show Me,” where he tries to advise people with problems by getting them to do their job and teaching them lessons through that. It turns out Scott is just using these people to make him a gazebo, set up an outdoors sound system and serve hors d’oeuvres at an event, which turns out to be his birthday party filled with other people he’s conned into coming. These little skits always feel like a slight departure from the episode in general, but it’s also a fantastic way of doing what CBB does best: presenting one idea, then flipping what you imagine will happen in the most hilariously possible way.
Out of this group of episodes, “Carly Rae Jepsen” is the weakest, but not by much. We get a much wilder presentation and a bunch of fun new characters in an episode that feels much more like the insane escalation of wackiness that often occurs on the podcast.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.