On the surface, the IFC series "Comedy Bang! Bang!" might look like a typical talk show, but it's much, much weirder than that.
The show — hosted by creator and executive producer Scott Aukerman — combines interviews with celebrities with sketch comedy, musical parodies, recurring story lines and plenty of absurd scenarios to make you laugh out loud.
"Comedy Bang Bang" simultaneously makes fun of and pays tribute to the conventions of traditional late night shows — David Letterman is one of Aukerman's biggest influences. The show is now going through a pretty big transition with sidekick Reggie Watts leaving for a new gig as bandleader of "the Late Late Show with James Corden." IFC announced this week that rapper and musician Kid Cudi will replace Watts.
Besides his hosting duties, Aukerman also runs the Earwolf podcast network (where he still hosts the "Comedy Bang Bang" podcast) and he's co-creator of the hit web series “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis." He might just be one of the busiest comedians in show biz.
Aukerman stopped by our studio recently to talk about how he puts the show together, what makes him laugh and what his typical work day looks like.
Note: This interview was recorded prior to the death of "Comedy Bang Bang" podcast regular Harris Wittels. Host Scott Aukerman made brief comments about Wittels' death online and said he would have more to say on Monday.
Were you a fan of talk shows growing up?
I was. I will say I did not ever like the kind of talk shows that went super in-depth with the questions, like a Tom Snyder, but I loved Letterman. Letterman was my biggest influence, and I used to think that I wanted to do what Letterman did. I wanted to have a talk show. I really found out doing this show that I really just wanted to do a comedy show. I wanted to do the comedy that he was doing, not necessarily talk to celebrities. The most fun is messing around doing skits and doing comedy pieces and that's what I get to do on my show and I never have to have really boring conversations with people.
Walk us through how you put the show together:
The guest usually comes last. We usually don't know who is going to be on the show until the very last minute. What it starts off with is we have an idea for the storyline of the episode...so it'll start with that idea, we'll write all of that — we'll then write what we call the Act Two videos, which are the comedy videos in the middle of the episodes. And then we find out who's going to be on the episode, and then a couple of days before they're on, we'll write sketches aimed just at them. So it's kind of a backwards process, but it's one that we found that works for us.
How does it feel to be losing Reggie Watts on the show?
It's disappointing in one way of, I really wanted the show to be the same all the time. Change is very scary and I'm very resistant to it, because when you find something that works you just want to exploit it until it's done. But change can also be very exciting in a lot of ways. Now we have an opportunity to work with someone new. I think we have a really wonderful goodbye for Reggie that honors the work that he did on the show and it's kind of an emotional episode, but then we have a new person that's coming in and we're going to try and develop a similar kind of relationship, but one that is different enough where it feels like something new.
What makes you laugh?
I just love comedy, I love comedians. I produced a show at UCB in L.A. for 10 years. On TV I love stuff like "Nathan For You," I love sitcoms, I love "Parks and Recreation," "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" is really great. I do love to laugh, I'm not like one of these burnt-out comedians who's like, the gynecologist who gets home at the end of the day and is like "honey, put that away." I love going home and actually laughing.
What's a typical day for you like?
Usually every other day I have to record a podcast. Every day I have to write new stuff on the show, and when we're filming the TV show I have to do that for 12 to 15 hours a day. And I also have to be in the editing room and I have to give notes on scripts. So, I woke up at 4 in the morning today and I couldn't get back to sleep thinking about notes on a thing I had to get. It's really a problem.
This Q&A is an excerpt. Listen to the audio of the interview for more.