As Scott mentions at the beginning of “Karen Gillan Wears a Black and White Striped Pullover and Coral Skirt,” comedy should come from the heart, not from the brain. Between this week’s episode and Thomas Middleditch’s episode last week, we’re beginning to see that Comedy Bang! Bang! has a heart of darkness.
It’s great to see the sunny TV show take on some of the stranger, darker humor of the podcast, even if it is just lightly sprinkled in here and there. “Karen Gillan” introduces us to Harvey Wrinkleman (Bob Einstein), one half of the legendary Wrinkleman and Irons comedy duo, who shows up just in time to teach some of Scott’s punk writers something about comedy. But Harvey just sleeps for the majority of the episode and when he does wake up, his stories focus on him sexually assaulting Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield.
Over the last few weeks, Comedy Bang! Bang! has been on a roll with getting great guests that play off Scott really well. This week, Karen Gillan is plenty of fun and completely game for this weird show. She’s especially great as Scott tries to teach her how to speak American, and then spent hours deciding who would win in a fight—Amy Pond from Doctor Who or Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy. Her response: “Shut Up, You Dork!”
The highlight of the episode comes from Gillan, as she reveals the list of new Guardians that will be making appearances in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. The list starts off strange, as she mentions the Owls of Ha’Hoole from Legends of the Guardians will show up, but as the list goes on, its becomes hilariously obvious it’s just a list of the most insane people put together that the writers could come up with. The list includes Zohan from You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Fat Bastard, Tommy Pickles, Michael Oher from The Blind Side, Edward Norton—specifically his skinhead character from American History X—Dominique Wilkins, Lego Bilbo Baggins and Reggie Watts. And of course, the poster is absolutely brilliant.
Mailman Manny makes his triumphant return, this time delivering Reggie and Scott the same letter saying that they might be fathers. Their potential son Screggie Jr. shares Scott’s love for cue cards, but Reggie’s interest in sound effects pedals. In an example of perfect casting, it turns out that young Screggie Jr.’s father is played by Blake Anderson, who sort of does seem like he could be the child of Scott and Reggie.
But bringing back that darker aspect is character guest George Groiny-Melendez, played by the incredible John Gemberling. Even though Gemberling has only appeared on the podcast once, he played one of the show’s darkest characters ever, a sex robot Scott used named Little Button Puss, whose true love was the United 93 plane. Yeah… it got dark.
Gemberling also makes this episode take a darker turn as Groiny-Melendez, the owner of a small shipping business, who turns out to be shipping people. Scott and Karen’s reaction when Gemberling mentions he doesn’t like the muffling weeping he hears in the boxes is priceless. Even better is when Gemberling gives Scott “sleeping poison” and throws “zombie dust” in his face, trying to pack him in a box as a human packing peanut.
I personally like this experimentation into darker territory, which the end of this chunk of the season has played around with. For the most part, this is a happy, fun talk show parody, but bringing things into a more morbid and sometimes horrifying place only makes the show better.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.