Considering how strange Comedy Bang! Bang! gets on a weekly basis, the strangest thing about “Zach Galifianakis” is that the episode doesn’t get any weirder than your typical Comedy Bang! Bang! installment. As a dream episode, the sky is the limit for weirdness, and yeah, “Zach Galifianakis” is still very weird, but there’s really just a better explanation for the weirdness.
Due to the Comedy Bang! Bang! studio’s record long seven hour work day and their large turkey dinner with extra Tryptophan, everyone on Comedy Bang! Bang! is having a hard time staying awake. Of all the episode stories this season, “Zach Galifianakis”’ might be the loosest, with the basic story being that everyone is falling asleep, but that loose structure does work best for a show like this, which needs to flow and go off on tangents.
The sleep aspect starts off strongly, with Scott dreaming that he’s the logo character during the show’s opening credits and Reggie set in reverse, and playing the Inception theme. Sir Couchley is having a nightmare with Scott as Freddy Kreuger, promising that Couchley will be jumped on by Tom Cruise and that the episode’s guests include Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez and Nicki Minaj—a terrifying thought for the poor couch.
Not only is the crew prone to Tokyo Drifting away to sleep, but the episode’s guest Zach Galifianakis also has problems dozing off. He confused his wife’s breast pump with his sleep apnea, so he didn’t get much sleep, especially since he’s lactose intolerant. He has a Field of Dreams fantasy where he pumps his still-alive father with steroids, then gets beat up by the rest of the baseball team. Galifianakis remains the most frequent guest on Comedy Bang! Bang! and for good reason, since he and Scott are great together, especially when Zach thinks he’s sleeping, takes apart the couch and starts slapping Scott while screaming white racial slurs at him.
Even the minor commercial here is great, where we see Deer Head dreaming of running free in the woods, then returning the studio, since he likes it right “deer.” Reggie gets a perfect 80s video dream with Tears For Fears. His song “Bomb Song,” from Bachelor Brothers Records (a great inside joke for fans of the podcast), is about the world getting rid of bombs, but realizing he’d probably need a bomb to blow up all the other bombs. The song ends with Reggie and Tears For Fears basically doing a complete 180 and saying that bombs are pretty great.
It’s near the final third of “Zach Galifianakis” that the conceit starts to fall apart and we focus on the dreams of the lesser-known crew members. Boom operator Mike has a fight with his wife in bed, and Jenny the makeup person dreams of sitting on the couch, but only because she has a strange obsession with couches. This segment is saved by the appearance of the Sandman, played by Brent Spiner, who hates late night shows, since it keeps people up. In an attempt to stop him, Scott follows the Sandman through a series of late-night programs, including the set of @midnight, with a napping Chris Hardwick muttering about points and Jon Daly and Brett Gelman knocked out at their posts. Thankfully, Scott’s Marimba ringtone on his phone is the Sandman’s true enemy, causing him to run away, leaving Scott the Tryptophan-filled hero of the day.
The simple conceit of the episode does allow for more crazy ideas that make sense in this environment, yet by the final third, the episode does start to lose steam, focusing on stories that aren’t as funny as they could’ve been, in an otherwise great idea for an episode.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.