As much as I enjoy Silicon Valley, I always thought putting Thomas Middleditch as the show’s straight man was an odd choice. Yes, Middleditch is great as Richard Hendricks, but with one of the funniest casts on TV, it is sort of a shame to not get to see the height of his comedic talents. Thankfully Comedy Bang! Bang! is here to give us the hilarious Middleditch that we don’t usually get on HBO.
“Thomas Middleditch Wears and Enigmatic Sweatshirt and Sweatpants With Pockets” occasionally brings out that darker side of Comedy Bang! Bang! that sometimes comes across on the podcast, but rarely makes it to the TV show. In this week’s episode, Comedy Bang! Bang! is hosting a contest to interview a fan, the winner being a teenager named Brody SouthDakotee, who is actually Scott Aukerman. For some reason, Scott sometimes dresses up like a teenager—Brody—and hangs out with his high school friends. As the “Brody SouthDakotee” theme song points out, it doesn’t make any sense, no one is forcing him to do this and it’s a lot like Hannah Montana.
Brody’s friends add a great level of darkness to the story though, as Brody is noticeably absent whenever Scott is hosting the show. They point out that if Brody doesn’t show up to be interviewed, not only will they no longer be Brody’s friends, they’ll also drop out of school, take drugs and kill themselves. The friends are so joyous, but also harbor a darkness that allows them to break the fourth wall and call Edward Snowden a traitor to America, for no good reason. Scott’s cover up also has moments of darkness, such as his album “Songs That Prove I’m a Teenager,” which features the track “I’m Too Young to Remember 9/11.” To make things even slightly creepier, for the first time ever, we find out that Comedy Bang! Bang! has always had a live audience, it’s just that over the last four seasons, they’ve never laughed. Ever.
Middleditch is a relatively new member of the Comedy Bang! Bang! world, having only first appeared on the podcast a few months ago, but already he’s shaping up to be one of their best guests. His rapport with Scott is incredibly fun, as we learn that Scott came into money as a baby, since he used his umbilical cord to strangle both his parents, immediately after coming out of the womb. But we also get to see Middleditch’s great penchant for specific accents and his ability to train dogs to lift their paws up by using the phrase “Hail Hitler.”
To make things even more fun and to create an even stronger improvisational style in the episode, the character guest this week is the wonderful Lauren Lapkus, as mystic healer Harmony Moongloss. Lapkus’ characters also always goes really well with Scott, and as the three of them go through guided meditation, her constant yelling at Scott is expected, but incredibly funny. The segment ending with a strong moment between Lapkus and Middleditch is just the perfect icing on the cake.
In the end, Scott uses the same catch phrase as Brody, “cooler than Tony Hawk in a freezer,” which is a giveaway to Brody’s friends. Of course they should’ve figured it out, since Brody and Scott have the same mortgage statements, same credit card numbers, same daughters and both use the excuse of chronic diarrhea to leave on short notice. Turns out, Brody’s friends didn’t actually like him that much and he wouldn’t shut up about Scott Aukerman. So everything works out for the best.
“Thomas Middleditch” is a fantastic episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! It’s a rare example of the show not only succeeding with a great episode guest and character guest, but also giving Scott a really fun premise to play around with—one that’s equally as great as his guests.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.