An episode of Comedy Bang! Bang! without character guests is ridiculously rare. In fact, I’m not sure it has happened on the TV show before. With the exception of Ben Schwartz’s “Solo-bolos,” podcast episodes, where it is just Scott and Ben, there hasn’t been a solo episode of the podcast since 2013 with Seth Rogen and a few weeks earlier with Marc Maron. All that to say, solo episodes are so infrequent, it’s often just a nice respite to have Scott and a normal, non-character guest hang out and talk.
That being said, it’s sort of strange that the first non-character guest episode in recent memory would be with A$AP Rocky, who despite a role in Dope, isn’t known for acting, especially comedic performances. But it’s A$AP’s clear unfamiliarity with what the hell this show is, his genuine reactions and the rare interview that gets Kid Cudi in on the fun that makes “A$AP Rocky” a surprisingly fun episode.
Scott leaves his iPhone, wallet and keys in his dressing room, all three of which embark on a half-hour adventure to find Scott. This Toy Story parody does take up a bit more time than the usual story, likely due to the lack of a second guest, but it works quite well. What makes this parody a bit better than most is a clear love for the material and its specificity. The wallet, keys and iPhone end up in a room of outdated technology—VCR players, pagers and a copy of Final Draft 5. This leads to the newest iPhone worrying about being tossed away in a segment parodying the “When She Loved Me” segment of Toy Story 2. Even a little segment in the middle of the commercial break makes a reference to the teaser trailer for WALL-E, discussing a famous lunch where the Comedy Bang! Bang! writers came up with doing the idea of a Toy Story episode.
Positioned between Scott and Cudi, A$AP Rocky brings a dynamic that we rarely see, and it’s incredibly fun. Scott plays up his usual square host mentality and A$AP reacts naturally to just how weird this show is. The dynamic can be best summed up by Scott, who says “You’re out there banging models, I’m out there building models.”
“A$AP Rocky” also makes Kid Cudi a larger part of the interview segment, as A$AP and Cudi are clearly friends, and having Cudi interact more on the show makes for some really great stuff (for example, they discuss whether or not Pharrell is a vampire). But with these three together, it becomes very much like the podcast, where Scott is having fun with his weird bits, A$AP is the bewildered guest and Cudi is the in-between of these polar opposites. All of the scripted parts of Comedy Bang! Bang! are almost always great, but having clearly improvised discussions about how J.K. Rowling took all the great rap names, or learning about the last year since Scott first had sex make for the most enjoyable parts of the episode.
A$AP Rocky seemed like a strange choice for this episode’s format, but the way he gets along with Scott and Cudi makes it incredibly charming and consistently funny. In addition to highlighting Cudi’s strengths, A$AP is much better in the spotlight alone than I would’ve expected. After how successful “A$AP Rocky” is, hopefully it’s only a matter of time before Comedy Bang! Bang! goes for a full solo-bolo.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.