As much as I’ve enjoyed this season of Comedy Bang! Bang!, I’ll admit it’s felt a tad more scripted and set in a specific pattern than previous seasons. Last week, I mentioned that it might be to the benefit of CBB to break from the mold that it’s stuck to this season. Now, here we are at the midseason finale, “Josh Groban Wears a Suit and Striped Socks,” and not only is this episode one of the most ambitious and fun episodes of the season, it’s probably the best as well.
In Season Three we’ve seen the end (so to speak) of Comedy Bang! Bang!, so it makes sense that we’d also see the predecessor. Thanks to a sandbag to the head, Scott goes back to 1968 and inhabits the body of Sullivan Hunchy, host of The Sullivan Hunchy Show. Following him to the past is CBB guest Josh Groban, who travels back in time via remote control. While in the past, Scott tries to keep Reggie’s father Jimick Watersmith from being bumped by The Kooky Kavemen on the show, in hopes of making Watersmith a star. With “Josh Groban,” we finally get a face to the name Sullivan (we’ve seen advertising his products since the beginning of the series). It’s not a big point of order in the episode, but it is a fun point for fans.
Scott does his best to host a talk show in the ‘60s, but the lack of cue cards and his reliance on telling modern jokes about “Fifty Shades of Grey” and Lindsay Lohan backfires on him. He also has the assistance of Charlie Milles, leader of the Sullivan Hunchy Orchestra, played by Neil Campbell. As one of the show’s writers, Campbell is particularly great at encompassing the CBB spirit and it’s always great to see him on the show or podcast.
Groban has done a fascinating 180 in his public persona, going from operatic
pop singer, to making hilarious appearances in comedies like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and The Office (he also has a pretty great Twitter presence). He’s sort of Scott’s cohort this episode, since they’re both time travelers through different means. These two are fantastic together, especially when showing each other their renditions of “I’m A Little Stinky Boy.” Also Scott calling Josh a piece of shit under his breath” might be my favorite moment of the season.
Josh Fadem has an amazing first appearance on CBB as hypnotist/plate spinner Morty Sheesh, who hypnotizes his audience into thinking (wait for it)... that he’s a good plate spinner. His over-the-top nature really sells the character and I wouldn’t complain about seeing a modern day reappearance of this character.
The insanity that happens near the end of the episodes is always appreciated. Reggie’s father finally plays the show, then turns the black-and-white ‘60s into a color-soaked wonderland with his song “We Should Have Sex.” Once this change has been made, bandleader Charlie Milles decides he should loosen up, use his last name Manson instead, grow out his hair, take mind-expanding drugs and quit covering up his swastika tattoo with makeup. That’s right, we can thank Scott Aukerman for Charles Manson.
In the end, Reggie’s father does become famous in the present day, but it’s for hitting Scott in the face with his guitar, and killing Sullivan Hunchy on his show by accident.
It’s all this weirdness that makes Comedy Bang! Bang! so great. And with “Josh Groban,” the show breaks out even more, trying crazy things and succeeding, much like it did in earlier seasons. This is a great, refreshing midseason finale, and only excites me for what is to come in the second half of the season.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.