If you follow Scott Aukerman on any social networking platform, you probably have witnessed the real-time production progress Comedy Bang! Bang!‘s second season for IFC. And while I can say that some familiar faces (along with musical sidekick Reggie Watts) will grace your TV sets (i.e. Tig Notaro, Kyle Kinane, Todd Glass, Michael Ian Black) I can only share with you a few details from the first two episodes, which I was lucky enough to view.
If you were were a fan of last season’s episode titles in which the guest’s clothing were factually described, I’ve got great news for you. SPOILER ALERT: someone wears a plaid shirt and glasses and someone else wears a charcoal gray suit! In the tradition of the CBB podcast, this second season continues references and running themes from its previous season and further explores the universe it has created.
Aukerman recently celebrated the the fourth anniversary of his the podcast Comedy Bang Bang, part of the Earwolf network, which he co-founded with Jeff Ullrich. He also closed the curtain on his over 10-year run of the Comedy Bang! Bang! (formerly Comedy Death Ray) live show. On July 12, he (along with musical sidekick Reggie Watts) will unveil season two of Comedy Bang! Bang! on IFC. Aukerman and I talked recently about the upcoming season of the show, the merging of television and podcasts and what the future holds for him and Comedy Bang! Bang!
Hi, Scott Aukerman. that extra five minutes you needed was a life saver. I made coffee with my Keurig machine but accidentally grabbed a hot cocoa pod.
Ooooh no. . .
I realized I was sitting down for a nice interview with a cup of hot chocolate.
If this were December and Christmas, maybe. Sure.
What time does your day start, Scott?
It depends on the day. It could be anywhere from 6am to 11.
That’s not too bad. My kids get me up at six everyday too but I don’t have to wake up and immediately be busy.
Yeah, because then I have a 13 hour day.
Yeah, it’s tough.
But you’re making a TV show!
Yeah, sort of. Wait a minute, I never thought of it that way. I guess we kind of are making a TV show.
Sort of? You are literally making a TV show.
Hold on a second, I guess you’re right!
I don’t think you really had forgotten about the TV show part. was very excited that IFC ordered a second season of Comedy Bang! Bang! Last season, I had to get episodes from Apple TV, but now I have IFC and get to enjoy it when it airs like a regular person.
You also get the extra minute as well that aren’t on the Apple or Netflix version.
I didn’t realize that I’ve been missing out.
It’s about one more sketch per show. You’re missing about 10 minutes.
I know IFC is very tight lipped about info coming out, but can I ask you this– in this upcoming season, will there be any surprises?
No, actually. There will be zero surprises. And if that’s surprising to you, I can only say that it is not because there will be NO surprises. Pretty much everyone is going to watch and go, ‘Uh huh, uh huh, yeah. Check check.’ They’ll just be ticking off boxes on their little lists of what they expected. Then at the end of the season, they’ll have completed their forms and they’ll turn them in and everyone will be eligible for a brand new Ford Fiesta.
Wow! IFC really is against surprises.
They hate it. Well, they’re afraid of people scaring themselves to death when they watch the show.
Ah, much like the British government’s fear that if Beatles’ fans found out Paul died, they’d all kill themselves.
Yeah, so they’re really scared about someone else scaring themselves to death which coincidentally then makes IFC libel to scare THEMselves to death. So, you know, it’s just a circle – you know – these guys. . . you know what I mean?
It makes sense, because it was also very hard for me to find the IFC channel through my cable provider. I had to really search that menu for a while.
Really? Sounds like you should really learn to search your cable menu better. Have you ever thought that’s maybe your problem?
I just keep hitting the page down button.
Yeah, there are shortcuts to that– uou know, should you care to investigate that.
Well, no no. I’m sure I’ll never have to search for another channel ever again. Has there been any announcement about another Live tour for Comedy Bang! Bang! this season?
I hope there will be. There’s nothing to announce yet but I’m certainly thinking about it. Do you have any suggestions?
Yes. I suggest that you do a live tour.
Oh ok. Alright then. The tour last year was really cool and I really wanted to make those shows worth going to. Based on the responses I got, it seems people really enjoyed it.
Well, you broke bones last year to put on a great show and continued with that foot brace.
Yeah, literally. I hope to not break my foot again if I do another tour. That’s the one thing I would do differently. Well, nevermind. I still will.
Let’s get down to some real questions. Comedy Bang! Bang! has paved the way for podcasts to break into TV. Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist is now on BBC America, and Marc Maron has found his way to IFC as well. In what ways do you think podcasts are going to be evolving?
Much in the same way that people started basing movies on books. People started writing books with a television or movie in mind where it was just a screenplay disguised as a book. But there are still people writing real books. Hopefully people will get into podcasts because they are a great expression of someone comedically. Hopefully they’ll have a good idea for a podcast first because it’s a great art form. There’s not a lot of people standing between you and your audience for it.
Back in the 90’s people were basing sitcoms off stand-up comedians’ acts and I’m sure it influenced how people wrote their acts back then. But there were still great comics who didn’t care about that. I certainly hope that the trend continues where there will be TV shows and other things based on podcasts because Earwolf as a business is predicated on that. I don’t see it affecting it negatively quite yet. Did I sound like a scientist when I said all that?
You definitely sound like an expert.
Would this hold up in court?
I think you would be called upon as an expert if podcasts were being prosecuted for something.
Hopefully some podcast will commit murder and then I’ll be called to the stand.
Are there other Earwolf podcasts that you think are well suited to be developed for television?
Yeah, I think a lot of them would and that’s part of what we’re doing with our expansion in production. Figuring out current shows to see what it would be like if they were translated into other types of media. And also new shows for other types of media. As well as just coming up with new types of podcasts.
When season one of Comedy Bang! Bang! came out on IFC, there was no Video Podcast Network and fans probably had expectations they were hoping would be met. Like the running gags on the podcast, characters, and storylines, etc. How did you fnd the right balance for those fans and newcomers alike in that first season, and will be there more or less references to the podcast in season two?
I believe there is still some of that coming up in season two but I will say this season we are kind of, not stepping away from it, but I think we established the TV show as its own thing in season one and established its own template and language so that people who have no idea that it even is a podcast are used to the TV version of it. So I think what we’re trying to do is revel in that for a while. I kind of view them as two separate things now and I want to take what people loved about the first season and take that to the Nth degree and blow it up.
In the first season, I was really concerned about people who are fans of the podcast then liking the TV show and catching all the little references that stemmed from podcast. Like, I had Harris Wittles telling a one liner joke while he was on the phone in one scene for fans of The Foam Corner. This season we’re just viewing it as, ‘Ok. What did we do last season that was great for the TV show and how can we make it even better this season?’
I definitely see the podcast as its own universe and the TV show pulled a lot of elements from that universe but has a completely different style, and I mean that in a positive way.
Yes, and I really wanted them to be different. I wanted the TV show to be unique because to me, watching a podcast on TV didn’t sound interesting for me to do so I wanted to keep the same spirit and I think that kind of surprised some people who thought it would look like what we have now with the Video Podcast Network. I think with the second season we’re really just working within this new framework we’ve created and I think fans of the first season are really going to love it.
I, for one, am really looking forward to it. Especially now that I have the channel.
Yes, as long as people can toggle that page down on their remote control to get to IFC.
Well, it was a good five or six page down clicks. That’s the new slogan. “IFC: 5 or 6 Pages Down.” How did Earwolf get in cahoots with the Video Podcast Network?
I think we started talking to Daniel Kellison who is one of the heads of it a while ago, back when they were kind of coming up with the whole JASH and Video Podcast Network thing. It sounded really interesting. I know there were people who would love to be in the room while we’re doing these things and some people who, instead of the Comedy Bang! Bang! TV show, would rather just watch a direct translation of the show. I think it’s a really interesting way to watch the show and with the addition of the live commenting and the fact that people can talk to us while we’re doing it. The whole live aspect is what’s really interesting to me. The first one we went live with, we all just kind of said, ‘Oh wow, this really is something!’ Especially when I’m not doing them, I really enjoy tuning in on Thursdays 6 pm PST to see whatever show it is and watch people commenting along with it. It’s another really cool way to get the podcasts out there. I think it’s great.
When the show was on Indie 103, there were two ways to consume your podcast: live on the station’s website or later as a podcast. There’s just something about listening or watching live that you feel more involved and connected.
There’s something really cool about watching things live, shows like American Idol or even Saturday Night Live would not be successful if they were not viewed live. Since I stopped doing it live at the radio station, there’s always this expectation when I put one out that’s like, ‘Well, this could have been altered or they could throw one away if it didn’t quite work out, or edit out any uncomfortable parts.’ But when you’re watching it live you feel like you’re really participating in something.
There was a time when families would huddle around their old-timey radios to listen to The Shadow.
And there was a movie The Shadow with Alec Baldwin. I like to imagine people huddled outside theaters trying to hear the movie The Shadow.
When TV broadcasts became a thing, it didn’t translate as watching the performers sit around and record the The Shadow. Technologically, podcasts in general seem like sort of a step backward in the evolution of entertainment. Now with Video Podcast Network, it’s almost as though that paradigm shift is repeating itself. How do you think this time around is different or better?
You know, radio never went away. People always love hearing other people talk about stuff. Radio and podcasts are kind of like a conversation and a way to connect to human beings. There’s nothing like listening to someone talk and I think that’s why podcasts are so successful. It’s a more convenient, better way to do that, rather than tune in on the radio at a certain time to hear the thing you want while there are a million commercials happening in the middle.
It’s a free format, where the creator has absolute control – what to make, when to release it – and the consumer can download and listen to it whenever they want to – and for free.
That’s what’s great about the podcast medium. Essentially, it’s radio that is totally convenient and aimed at the consumer in such a way that makes it easier for you to get your art out there.
Where do you see Comedy Bang! Bang! in five years?
Five years? Gosh.
Do you think you’ll still be doing the podcast?
I hope to still be doing it all actually. It’s really hard work but the rewards are so great. I see some people who are older comedians and at a certain point go, ‘You know what, this is too hard to continue.’ It’s really hard to get the new thing going but I really think that I’d like to continue with it because it really is such a great expression of what I do and what I find funny. I would love it if, in five years, I were to check in on myself and everything was still going. My hope is that I, and the shows, are still relevant in five years.
It’s hard to imagine a world where Comedy Bang! Bang! doesn’t hold a relevant and significant place in the history of comedy. You can watch season two of Comedy Bang! Bang! starting July 12 on IFC. You can visit Earwolf.com to check out the podcast along with links for Video Podcast Network shows and more.