Comedy Bang Bang Delivers on All Counts Comedy and Bang Bang-ery

Posted: June 1, 2016 by Sam in Ephemera, Theater
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I feel like that title loses something towards the end…

What would Rufio do?

bang

Eh, whatever!

If you’ve been lucky enough to see Scott Aukerman’s live comedy show turned podcast turned IFC television show turned touring live comedy show, then you know what it feels like when your stomach aches the next morning because you were laughing so hard you pulled a muscle you weren’t aware you had.

It’s one thing to listen to Aukerman and his rotating cast of comedians and “friends of the show” or watch many of the same comedy-bang-652x367-538x301people reprise their audio personas for the television show, but seeing the magic (I know, I’m groaning too) of live improv by people at the top of their game heightens the experience shared among the audience and performers. You laugh more because the people around you are laughing, creating an energy that’s palpable in the theater. The laughs, however, go deeper and last longer as each new guest builds upon previous riffs and alters the group dynamic on stage. Of course a live audience means some measure of interaction, instigated or otherwise, but it speaks to the skill of the performers that they never lose their cool or their rhythm while addressing their less-than-silent observers.

“But who were these hilariously adept comedians gracing the stage for your viewing pleasure?” I hear you asking me over the internet.

Excellent question. I’m glad you probably asked it. To answer it, here’s a brief synopsis of the tour’s second-to-last show in Seattle, Washington at the Moore Theater. If you actually want to listen to the show, which you can, you need only subscribe to Howl.fm where you can listen to all 21 performances. You can also tell me whether or not I’m remembering the night correctly because I love being corrected in a public forum.

Author’s Note: Do not inform me if I’m remembering the night correctly. Let me have my illusions!scottaukerman

Front and center was Scott Aukerman, the creator and host of Comedy Bang Bang. Aukerman practically bounded on to the stage of the Moore Theater and almost immediately focused in on the eleven-year-old boy seated in the front row, between his parents, for a show that was likely to go blue the minute he brought out the first guest. In his own words, “Now I want to swear more!” After making the customary comparisons to Portland, as is the traditional means of addressing Seattleites, Aukerman was very complimentary towards the city since the podcast recorded its first live show, under the Bang Bang banner, at the annual Bumbershoot music and arts festival in 2011. With his complimentary remarks out of the way, and a brief taunting of one of the stagehands off stage, Aukerman called out his first guest: Director Mr. Gary Marshall as portrayed by Paul F. Tompkins.

A regular guest with a plethora of characters in his repertoire (the Cake Boss, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Werner Herzog come to mind), Tompkins no doubt had his pick of whom to play. As Gary Marshall, the director of all the holiday movies, Tompkins revels in the cranky, pragmatic, yet easily excitable characterization he’s built over the last five years. What’s Marshallfantastic about Tompkins’s status as first guest is the time it gives him and Aukerman to keep their odd couple routine going throughout the entirety of the show. Though Aukerman typically takes on the straight man role as host of the podcast – and to a lesser extent on the television show – whenever Tompkins is a featured player the dynamic changes. Case in point, when Mr. Marshall came out on stage and chose the stool upon which to perch, Aukerman and he engaged in a game of Move-The-Sweat-Rags, which Aukerman commented were there to clean up the guests’ anal seepage. Less than a minute in and the pair quickly settled into their tried and true role reversal with Mr. Marshall acting as straight man to whatever inane thoughts sprang, barely formed, from Aukerman’s mouth. It’s all about the reaction from Tompkins; his bemused stare at Aukerman while the off-color comment gets a moment to breathe and the audience takes it in as well. After several minutes of testing Gary’s tolerance for Scott’s questions, it was time for the next guest to arrive: Manners Expert Carmella Pointe as portrayed by Lauren Lapkus.

Though Lapkus is fairly new to the Bang Bang rotation, she’s definitely earned her spot with fantastic and disturbing performances as Scott’s Nephew Todd, Ho-Ho the Elf, and Murphy O’Malaman. What’s most notable about Lapkus’s guest appearances is her fearlessness in saying the weirdest, darkest, and the most sexually charged musings if only to get a reaction out of Scott or the other guests. During her performance at the Moore, however, she debuted Carmella and quickly solidified IMG_7303her place among her growing list of characters by politely telling Scott to “kiss her fucking feet.” He obliged, of course, getting down on all fours, as is only polite in such situations. Mr. Marshall got a pass because he’s old. As a trio, Scott and Gary engaged Ms. Pointe in conversation over how to avoid being rude and to practice good manners via a smattering of hypothetical scenarios. One had Scott and Gary as gay couple Louie Anderson and Clive Owen, respectively, helping a pregnant woman through a revolving door post-public sexy times. Another revealed the dark secrets of Gary as the adopted son of Louie Anderson still hypothetically played by Scott. With the scenarios concluded, Aukerman moved on to the next guest: Candymaker Peter Finn as portrayed by Mike Hanford.

Hanford was actually the show’s opening act, taking over the position half way through the tour after Neil Campbell had to drop out. Those familiar with his appearances on the podcast know him for his performance as the very much still alive John Lennon, which Hanford brought out during his opening standup routine. He even managed to almost sing a love song to a girl named Kate. For the show proper, Hanford played Peter Finn, a man who sounds like a more depressed Nicolas Cage. Pining Lennonfor his wife who all but ran away from him, more specifically she rolled away in a giant tire down a hill, Peter could only express his feelings by singing somewhat to the tune of Little Shop of Horrors’ “Somewhere That’s Green.” What became the most entertaining aspect of the show was the interaction amongst the performers and their innate ability to make each other laugh. Lapkus was especially capable of cracking Tompkins with her amazingly foul mouth. Hanford, however, managed to get them both with a combination of the lovelorn candymaker’s wispy voice and his surprisingly fancy footwork. The three combined, however, were nearly overshadowed by the dulcet monotone of LinkedIn Creative Officer Tom Boreman portrayed by Tim Baltz.

Though he was the last performer brought out, Baltz’s Boreman quickly made for a distinct voice and personality in comparison to the other comedians. And by distinct I mean flat and sorely lacking. It paid off in spades, however, when Boreman attempted to explain LinkedIn to the perplexed panel of characters and said the magic word, “Boolean.” If you don’t know what a Boolean search is, I encourage you to look it up, but Boreman’s attempt to explain the Boolean to the others Baltzmade for some of the most intense laughter from both on and off the stage. I’m cracking myself up as I type this because I remember Baltz’s voice and the frequency of him saying “Boolean” in answer to any questions put forth about the excitingly lackluster functionality of LinkedIn. Basically, the last ten minutes of this show would be worth the Howl.fm subscription. Trust me, I don’t say this lightly.

By the end of the night, the show gave me the much needed gift of laughter, a new appreciation for the word Boolean, and something to think about in terms of the proper actions when helping pregnant women into buildings while carrying ten bags of designer clothing. And isn’t that what live podcasts are supposed to do?

I wanna say…probably?

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