When it comes to the gimmicks—as Scott has called them—of Comedy Bang Bang episodes, there are two different ways they’re handled. The first way is to go all-in, embrace the theme and completely engage with whatever insanity this gimmick will allow, much like The Brew in the last episode, “Weird Al Wears a Different Hawaiian Shirt.” Then there are the episodes that simply use the gimmick as merely a way to create the smallest semblance of a plot for the episodes. It sounds like the lesser of the two ideas, but often Comedy Bang! Bang! makes the bookends to the episode work. The biggest problem with “Uzo Aduba Wears a White Blouse and Royal Blue Heels” is that it should’ve been one of the all-encompassing episodes, and instead ends up being the latter.
As the first episode back from its hiatus, “Uzo Aduba” has a solid plot, but it’s one that never gets as crazy as you’d hope. In the future, all comedy has been outlawed. Jokes, bits and the rule of three is forbidden and comedians have ben put into camps, thanks to a joke comedian Jerry Jocks (played by James Adomian) told on Comedy Bang! Bang! Thankfully former Futurama writer Doctor Travers (John Hodgman) and his 12 Monkeys-ish device that can transfer the consciousness of older Scott and Kid Cudi into their former selves and stop Jocks’ horrible joke from outlawing comedy. However, Scott decides that, instead of stopping Jocks, he’d rather give a big speech and have all comedy but Comedy Bang! Bang! outlawed, and meanwhile, Cudi is distracted by the IT girl Katie (Cleopatra Coleman). So Scott and Cudi get to attempt to do their favorite things: giving a speech on TV and having sex!
“Uzo Aduba” is such a big idea and Comedy Bang! Bang! has handled time-travel in their show in really fun ways, but here it’s mostly relegated to occasional reminders that Scott and Cudi are from a period where President Snooki is a reality an Adam Sandler is a martyr of the comedy rebellion. As an episode of CBB, it’s pretty bare-bones, with no real cutaways and no visits to the future, except for in the very beginning and end. It’s still plenty of fun, but it’s easy to see where, if the episode had gone fully for the bit, it could’ve been better.
As an unknown in the Comedy Bang! Bang! world Uzo Aduba works better at supporting other people than she does at getting laughs herself. She does her own stand-up bit about how Comedy Bang! Bang! is asking her to do stand-up and she goes on a tirade about how Broadway bagels are better than the poppy seed bagels Comedy Bang! Bang! gives at their craft service. Aduba gives it her all, but her tone just doesn’t seem to match up with the usual Comedy Bang! Bang! style, and it makes things feel slightly off in her segment.
However, when Thomas Middleditch makes his appearance as concerned citizen Tim Landers, Aduba really succeeds, working almost as a co-host to Scott. She’s one of the more engaged guests when someone else is on the couch and that’s a great trait for any CBB guest to have. “Uzo Aduba” really comes to life when Middleditch shows up, since Scott, Uzo and Cudi are all trying their best not to break. Middleditch has just recently been added to the CBB world and he’s been an excellent addition. He’s already proved himself as a great guest and now as a character, he’s even more brilliant.
In the end, “Uzo Aduba” is an episode on laziness. Jocks’ terrible comedy-ending joke is about how Congress is lazy, then when Scott and Cudi return to the future, Travers mentions that their lazy way to get out of time-travel confusion on Futurama was simply to blame it on Bender. “Uzo Aduba” isn’t necessarily a lazy episode of CBB, but it does sort of make you wish they had dived completely into crazy ideas for the time-travel story to create another great sci-fi episode of Comedy Bang! Bang!.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.