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Arts in Review

Comedy Bang! Bang! sets the standardq for North American long-form improv

“You gotta laugh” was advice given to Scott Aukerman early in 2014 by Smith Calvins and Jones Calvins — two strange, short, and affluent old twins who spend the fortunes of their bee taffy business by promoting and hosting horse boxing matches.

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By Kodie Cherrille (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: January 14, 2015

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“You gotta laugh” was advice given to Scott Aukerman early in 2014 by Smith Calvins and Jones Calvins two strange, short, and affluent old twins who spend the fortunes of their bee taffy business by promoting and hosting horse boxing matches. It’s business as usual in the world of Comedy Bang! Bang!.

Comedy Bang! Bang! is an interview-style, long-form improv podcast, where Scott Aukerman (once a writer for Mr. Show, and co-creator for Between Two Ferns) has long talks with (typically) two or three guests, real or fictional. The show starts with one guest being interviewed relatively normally — though that’s not saying much in this zany world; even the most normal conversations can derail into absurdity with Aukerman. But the show has “a strict open-door policy,” so characters of all colours can and will show up.

The real guests are quite often the biggest names in comedy, but the real fun of listening to the podcast is for the improv. The “uninvited” guests that come in later are unbelievably talented; often they walk in with only a rudimentary idea of a character, but by the end of the episode, you’ll be wheezing with laughter. Andy Daly and Paul F. Tompkins make many appearances, and their batting average is unbelievable.

Aukerman’s a brilliant host. His ear for consistency helps characters reel things in if they seem like they’re juggling too much, and by paying close attention to the eccentric details of characters, he also is able to call them out on their contradictions, resulting in some hilarious back-and-forth. When the Calvins twins claim that one in 7,000 horses “come out of the womb fighting,” and that they’ve been in the business for 25 years, Aukerman does some math-checking and exclaims, “you’ve had to have been to 40 million horse births,” to which Jones replies nonchalantly, “is that all?”

CBB wraps up each year with a best-of list, complete with clips from the winning episodes. If you haven’t listened to this podcast, you may want to start there. It should be noted that the show does not shy from explicit content.

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