Throughout “David Krumholtz Wears a Blue Zip-Up Jacket and Grey Sneakers,” Andy Dick’s avant-garde artist Andy Battle-Corridor begs Scott and Kid Cudi to subvert expectations, to do something different, like show a video of a woman bathing in soup or nailing Scott’s yellowing underwear to a wall and charging three million dollars for it. Almost always, Comedy Bang! Bang! surprises in great ways, but it turns out as Scott says near the end of the episode “every week we just try to do a normal, straightforward talk show, we’re just bad at it.” “David Krumholtz” subverts expectations in the way you’d want Comedy Bang! Bang! to, yet in its most unpredictable segment—the guest portion—Comedy Bang! Bang! subverts expectations in the wrong way.
I’ve been a big fan of David Krumholtz ever since I was eight and saw him in one of his first films Addams Family Values. His work has been incredibly consistent, appearing in some of my all-time favorite movies and TV shows. There’s a neurotic excitement to Krumholtz’s usual roles that makes him incredibly endearing and it always makes me smile when he pops up. But in “Dave Krumholtz” he’s just sort of quiet and almost depressed? I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Krumholtz is bad on Comedy Bang! Bang!, it’s just that he’s not at the level of enthusiasm or excitement that is required to match this type of show.
This might also be the first time that Comedy Bang! Bang! slightly does feel like a real talk show with people trying to promote things. Krumholtz’s new show Gigi Does It just premiered a few weeks ago on IFC and I can’t imagine this wasn’t some attempt on the network side to do some cross-promotion. This doesn’t take away or add anything to the show per se, but for anyone that has watched the commercials during CBB can attest, IFC is pushing that show hard.
While Scott usually goes for silly questions or incredibly generic ones to make him seem like he’s an idiot at his job, the Krumholtz interview does genuinely feel like there was a lack of questions. The questions could’ve been asked of anyone that comes on the couch, from asking Krumholtz if he has any new projects, asking him to fill out a comment card, or the repetitive question of “what else have you been working on?” Once again, this line of questioning wouldn’t always be that distracting, but it almost does feel like this was all they could come up with.
Thankfully the rest of the episode does subvert expectations in just the right way. It feels like it has been quite some time since an episode featured a “recorded” segment and tonight’s was a great one to come back with. Since Scott is now too recognizable to prank without a costume, he goes undercover as a child for “Naughty Scotty.” His child costume is basically just some painted on freckles and overalls, with literally no one questioning this over six-foot-tall child. Just alone, it’s pretty great—especially with his borderline obnoxious child accent that throws in “w”’s liberally—but it gets even greater when he’s recruited by a group called the Small Stinkers, who want him to join their ranks. In order to join their crew, Scott has to sneak into an adult bookstore and get some dirty magazines. Of course, Scott doesn’t need a costume and even the store’s employee—perfectly cast as Brendon Walsh—knows Scott due to his daily adult bookstore visits. Brendon and Scott’s back-and-forth conversation of the sick shit Scott is in to is the episode’s highlight, especially when Scott asks him to just be cool.
Another wonderful surprise is Joe Wenger’s appearance as the character guest Arthur Steinborn, a memory expert. Steinborn actually hasn’t appeared on the podcast in over three years, so it’s a very weird choice to have him return for the TV show. There isn’t much to Steinborn: he has a system where he can break words down in order to remember them better. For example, to remember Scott’s name, he replaces every letter in his name until Scott is turned into Mamoo. The further he tries to explain his convoluted system, the less it makes sense and the funnier it gets. Wengert is pitched at about the same excitement level as Krumholtz, but the weirdness to his character work far better with the tone of the show.
In an episode that attempts to be surprising, the most surprising aspect might be how Krumholtz is slightly disappointing as the focus on Comedy Bang! Bang!. While Wengert and Scott end up winning the show over, there is a bit of a letdown from recent episodes. But let’s all hope that Comedy Bang! Bang! never gets good at being just a normal, straightforward talk show.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.