Scott Aukerman shares his formula for funny ahead of 'Comedy Bang! Bang! Live!' Atlanta show
Thirteen years ago, the podcasting world got a heck of a lot funnier as Scott Aukerman entered the realm with a bang. His award-winning podcast “Comedy Bang! Bang!” blends sketch comedy with celebrity conversations, and it’s been called “often strange, consistently hilarious and always unpredictable” by Entertainment Weekly. “Comedy Bang! Bang!” is currently on their North American tour and comes to the Tabernacle tomorrow evening, Aug. 17. Before Aukerman hits the stage, he joined “City Lights” senior producer Kim Drobes via Zoom to talk about his long history of tweaking conventional comedy formats.
On the inspiration behind the original “Comedy Bang! Bang!” podcast:
“I’d been doing a live show, kind of a standup showcase along with comedians doing characters, for 10 years at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles. I’d been producing it, and I’d seen a lot of comedians go up and do these really funny characters,” Aukerman recounted. “So I got this radio show at a local L.A. radio station, and I thought it was just going to be me interviewing comedians like most podcasts are … but then a few episodes in, I had some comedians on, playing characters.”
He went on, “I really enjoyed the back and forth of me trying to throw them off, asking weird questions and them being genius improvisers, and responding with really funny answers. It really reminded me of one of my favorite things, which was Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner’s ‘The 2000 Year Old Man,’ which really had that feeling of people having fun and trying to kind of mess with each other, but also being geniuses.”
On translating the unique formula to TV:
“I realized, talk shows, in general, are sort of ephemeral. You don’t go back and re-watch reruns of them on purpose. You may happen across them if you’re just up at night, but I really wanted it to be a show that people would go back and watch several times. So what we did was, we translated it and made it a little more visual, a little less in the moment and a little more of a statement,” said Aukerman.
“Now, that said, it had all of the elements — it had Reggie Watts … and then eventually Kid Cudi and Weird Al Yankovic became the bandleaders after Reggie left, but it just had more sketches, and it had more visual stuff. And what I’m really proud about is the fact that I still get messages of people telling me it’s their comfort watch. They’ve watched every episode 10, 20 times, and that’s what I really wanted to achieve with it, is make something that lasted and had a longstanding likability factor.”
Aukerman’s other brainchild, “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifinakis“:
“When we first started ‘Between Two Ferns,’ celebrity culture just was at an all-time high of obsequiousness. You know, any time you watch a talk show, the interview that you’re watching between the host and a celebrity has been preplanned to death,” Aukerman said. “I’ve done a few talk shows here and there, and every time you do one, the producer calls you and has approximately three to five conversations, really detailing how the conversation is gonna go, so there’s no margin for error.”
“I think when people watch talk shows nowadays, they can feel that, and they can feel that the host and the guest are not doing something real. So I think that’s why it was so popular when we first came out with [‘Between Two Ferns’] 10 or 11 years ago … Here was a host who didn’t care about making sure the interview went well. In fact, he was going to ask rude questions. The guest was going to get upset with the host … We all like to see celebrities get insulted because they need to be sometimes.”
“Comedy Bang! Bang! Live” takes place on Aug. 17 at the Tabernacle. Tickets and more information are available here.