What’s Up, Hotdog? Comedy Bang Bang – the funniest, most-frequently-Borat-quoting podcast in the world – celebrates its 300th episode this week, following four years of sustained comic brilliance and only one name change.
Beginning as the stand-up show Comedy Death-Ray in LA and inspiring its own TV program, the podcast has become one of the highest charters on iTunes (held from #1 by that pesky Marc Maron) and spun off a line of merchandise featuring catchphrases and inside jokes. It is also perhaps the only podcast to rival Lost for having a complex, interweaving mythology that takes place across multiple planes and parallel timelines, guarded by Time Bobbies, Cake Bosses, and the ghost of Michael Jackson.
For those unfamiliar, each episode begins with host Scott Aukerman – twisting the “straight man” archetype to an absurdly genius end – chatting with a guest until some nutty character (the invention of a talented improviser) takes advantage of the studio’s open door policy and insists upon being interviewed instead.
That murderers’ row of visitors includes Paul F. Tompkins, Zach Galifianakis, Gillian Jacobs, Patton Oswalt, Jessica St. Clair, Weird Al Yankovic, Lauren Lapkus, Bob Odenkirk, Adam Scott, Nick Kroll, and Reggie Watts – the latter responsible for devising the obscenely-catchy theme tune in one take and acting as Aukerman’s foil on the TV adaptation – to name a criminal few. In fact, just last week’s Episode 299 saw Australia’s own Claudia O’Doherty join those ranks; maybe the only reason to have felt truly patriotic this year. Yay us!
It’s been no easy task separating the all-time-great eps from the mere must-listens. (It pains me to even exclude musical-themed sister shows Analyse Phish and U Talkin’ U2 To Me?) Nonetheless, here are Comedy Bang Bang’s ten finest moments — plus, just for funsies, a supercut of Aukerman saying ‘My Wife’ on an endless loop. Old fans, reminisce with me. Everyone else, prepare to fall in love.
10) Ducca’s Diseases (Episode 51)
An early recurring fixture was Seth Morris’ downtrodden Bob Ducca (dubious ex-stepfather of Scott). On this first anniversary special, he reads out “some of the conditions, syndromes, complexes and general discomforts” he endures on a daily basis, to the delight of guest Tig Notaro. Earlier, she shared her classic bit about constantly encountering Taylor Dayne, but Ducca still manages to steal the show with his “spastic ear discharge”, “Anglo-centric sickle cell anaemia,” and “milk leg.”
#9: Michael Caine and Sean Connery (Episode 240)
Such is Comedy Bang Bang’s reputation, when Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost came on to spruik The World’s End, Wright insisted they stick to the format and had Pegg and Frost leave the studio and return as “best pals” Michael Caine and Sean Connery. The real magic comes at the 9:10 mark of the above clip, in which… oh, just listen.
#8: Oh, Hello (Episode 107)
‘New Seinfeld’ John Mulaney and titular Kroll Show star Nick Kroll took more than 100 episodes to bring their comic duo Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland to the program. It was worth the wait. Their return in Episode 174 might be even better, with poor Lizzy Caplan roped into improvising with these Upper West Side weirdos; this excerpt, though, has them dishing on frenemies Joel and Ethan Coen, who also pop their head into the studio.
#7: Marissa Wompler (Episode 116)
Maybe the most fervently adored CBB character is Jessica St. Clair’s Marissa Wompler, a 16-year-old intern armed with an alarming sense of self and a triangle-shaped body that defies all worldly logic. With 13 episodes to her name – not including the b-b-b-bonus Christmas Womptacular and her Live Pool Party – her family and friends have all, at one time or another, intruded on Scott.
Sadly, none of her appearances with troubling teacher/ex-sniper Listler (St. Clair’s BFF Lennon Parham) are available on YouTube. However, hearing Marissa describe her grandmother’s funeral (or anything, really) as she does here is essential.
#6: Ching Chong Matinee (Episode 161)
Aukerman’s secret weapon is a never-say-die attitude in the face of game-heightening improvisation, urging his guests to plumb the hugely specific depths of whatever hole they’ve dug themselves into. Case in point: Tim Heidecker (of Tim & Eric) being prodded to describe his part in Woody Allen’s new black-and-white–and-hugely-racist silent movie Ching Chong Matinee, starring Jason Alexander. It is… truly incredible.
#5: Jon Hamm vs. John C. Reilly (Episode 34)
Paul F. Tompkins, the closest CBB has to a regular sidekick, does a cavalcade of impressions: Werner Herzog, Ice T, Garry Marshall, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, the list goes on. That said, his most convincing is a surly John C. Reilly, and it’s all the more impressive when pit against Jon Hamm in an acting-off.
(Bonus: Don Draper, despite not being able to share his handsome visage over audio, has made numerous enthusiastic appearances on Comedy Bang Bang over the years. Listen to an ailing Hamm play El Chupacobro, the brother of Kroll’s Mexican DJ El Chupacabra.)
#4: iBrain (Episode 35)
I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed harder while listening to CBB than when Brett Gelman read out his powerful short story ‘iBrain’ – an act that would see him “banned.” I won’t spoil it; just submit to its full, ten-minute glory. Wear headphones — its, ahem, climax is not safe for, well, anyone.
#3: Farts and Procreation (Episode 120)
The divisive ‘Farts and Procreation’ trilogy, featuring Parks and Rec star Adam Scott and writers Harris Wittels and Chelsea Peretti, began in 2011, and is most famous for introducing Harris and Adam’s anti-comedy “characs” Jack Sjunior and Bryan Pieces, two “normal” lumberyard workers with a truly upsetting and utterly hilarious history. On the message boards, some people claim to despise the series, and especially its two sequels. I don’t want to know those people.
#2: Amy Poehler’s Rap (Episode 123)
CBB, like Matthew Broderick’s computer, loves to play games: Would You Rather, Riddle Me This, What Am I Thinking. In particular, their Free-Style Rap Battles are usually an invitation for even the most talented comics to embarrass themselves. And yet, Amy Poehler proved her perfection in all of the creative realms by devastating Scott and Adam Pally with this incredible school–themed rap, all from the top of her dome. Luxuriate in her sweet rhymes. (Apologies to Paul Rudd, who was also surprisingly good at this.)
#1: Zap! (Episode 131)
Waking up to a new Andy Daly CBB is day-making material. This incredible improviser is their MVP, and this is his Hall of Fame performance. Playing game show host and would-be Mayor of Hollywood Chip Gardner, Scott and Jason Mantzoukas drag themselves into his increasingly-distressing back-story, involving a face-mangling Jeep accident, “side by side” surgery, the murder of Chip’s wife, and a Satanic Voltron comprised of child soldiers from his game show ‘Zap’. Inspired lunacy, and Comedy Bang Bang at its very best.
Andy Daly Commits Mass Suicide, The Bachelor Brothers, Breaking Bad Spoilers, The Calvins Twins, Fabrice Fabrice, Poppin’ Bottles, Reggie Watts Creates the Theme Song, Skid Row, Tig Notaro Meets Taylor Dayne, Woody Allen Loves Entourage.
Feature image via Comedy Bang Bang.