It’s been a while since Comedy Bang! Bang! decided to do a big theme episode, but “Colin Hanks Wears a Denim Button Down and Black Sneakers” brings it back with a huge vengeance. Even when Comedy Bang! Bang! did consistently have themed episodes, it rarely ever changed the actual format or story in the show in as big of a way as “Colin Hanks” does.
“Colin Hanks” starts out big, with Scott questioning his place in the late-night landscape, then being taken into space by Noel DeSoil Holyfield (American treasure Sinbad) to show him the big picture—and that Scott really does matter. Reggie Watts, guests Colin Hanks and Trey Booth (Chelsea Peretti) and the CBB crew also just happen to be on Holyfield’s spaceship, which can also be made to look like any background they choose.
When Holyfield is killed by a xenomorph busting out of his chest, Scott has thirty minutes to find and kill the alien before it comes back to earth and starts killing everyone. Scott’s plan to do this? Lure the alien out by putting on their talk show, of course!
What makes “Colin Hanks” a very different episode—besides the obvious fact that they are now in space, even if the spaceship has been made to look like their set—is that murder is brought into the equation. Comedy Bang! Bang! so far has stuck pretty close to episode canon, what little there is of it, so when recurring characters start dying, like Propmaster Diana and pretty much all of Scott’s crew, it does make me wonder if we’re seeing these characters for the last time. If it is, they all get pretty good sendoffs, from the xenomorph jumping out of a different air vent from the one they expected, to Zeke taking one for the team, eating cookies with peanuts to see if they’re poisoned or not so they can poison the alien—only to realize is doesn’t matter since he’s allergic to nuts.
It’s also very rare for Comedy Bang! Bang! to change up their tried-and-true formula with Scott, Reggie, a celebrity guest and a character guest. “Colin Hanks” mixes things up, though not necessarily for the better. For one, less Colin Hanks is always a bad thing. For the few minutes he’s on the couch, he’s fantastic, starting his own show “Call-In Pranks with Colin Hanks,” where people can call him and prank him, and especially during Scott’s “#battle” show, a great parody of @midnight, where Colin turns celebrities into #spacecelebrities. Unfortunately, Colin tries to make nice with the xenomorph, since the two animals he’s met—a dog and a cat—have been gentle. Understandably, Colin is brutally murdered and the rest of the episode must go on Colin-less.
As much as I love Chelsea Peretti, her Trey Booth character, a celebrity stylist to the stars, had plenty of potential promise, but never quite showed any depth to it. The character is mostly sold by Peretti’s ridiculous laugh and her discussions with Reggie. But there’s not much to the character beyond her planning on dressing Scott in different ridiculous outfits, which never actually happens.
It is great to see Comedy Bang! Bang! create another big idea episode and it’s great that they toy around a bit with the usual formula, but “Colin Hanks” leans more on the side of amusing than laugh-out-loud funny.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.