I typically have a massive podcast diet. I’m subscribed to probably 35 or 40 podcasts, and I often listen to most – if not all – of the episodes that pop up on my phone. Two weeks ago, things changed. I’ve only been listening to one podcast: “Comedy Bang! Bang!”
So eight years too late, I’m here to tell you, go listen to this podcast. I’d heard of it before (and apparently there’s a TV show, which I’ve never watched), but it wasn’t until the podcast had released its 500th episode that I finally decided to give it a try. Boy, I wish I had done so sooner. If you’re looking for a laugh, or just a bit of distraction from day-to-day life, I can’t imagine anything better.
The podcast started in May 2009, and most of the episodes aren’t even on the iTunes feed anymore, but there’s plenty to dig into to get a taste of what you’re dealing with. When I started, I downloaded the “Best Of” year-end episodes from last year as well as some featuring comedians or entertainers I particularly wanted to hear from.
Still, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The show is far crazier than I could have imagined. Let me try to explain. In essence, it’s an improv comedy podcast. The host, Scott Aukerman, will bring on a guest or three and they’ll riff and make jokes and do an “interview” for the first third or so of the show. He typically asks atypical (but very funny in their directness or weirdness) interview questions. For instance, he recently asked Jon Hamm what number he was on the call sheet and once asked Adam Scott what his address was (to which he apparently responded because his answer was bleeped out on the podcast). Then, the original interview subjects, or some improv comedians who had been sitting out at the beginning, will jump into the conversation as characters. They pretend it’s still a normal interview, but the characters’ stories quickly unfold in the most absurd, ridiculous, hilarious ways you could imagine. (I particularly recommend the original “Farts and Procreation” episode with Harris Wittels, Adam Scott and Chelsea Peretti, which is still on the podcast feed.)
Not every joke lands, obviously, but the worlds that are created and molded during each conversation are fascinating and fun to follow along with. It’s particularly entertaining listening to the comedians test each other while improvising to see how long they can follow a topic or train of thought. Aukerman, and frequent guest Jason Mantzoukas, in particular, are really good at trying to poke holes in the stories the improvisers are creating while helping to build a more interesting narrative. This gives the listener an amazing insight into the cleverness and wit it takes to stay at the top of your game as other improvisers jab away. (There’s also a heightened awareness on the show of the way people use and repeat and misspeak words that is really fun to listen to if you’re an English nerd like me. Aukerman himself constantly misspeaks and calls himself on it or is called on it, which in and of itself has led to catchphrases within the show.)
I heartily believe listening to this show makes you sharper, and I have a lot of thoughts about it, but that’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll probably write more about the show later because I feel like I’ve only just begun to dip my toe in the waters of “Comedy Bang! Bang!”, but I wanted to give it a shout-out in case anyone is looking for a good time during their commute this week.
Thank you for all the great times we’ve had together so far, Mr. Aukerman, but please be a little less funny so I don’t have to pull over on my way to work to keep from crashing because I’m laughing so hard.