Since 2012, Scott Aukerman has been on an odyssey, churning out five seasons of “content” on IFC with the Comedy Bang! Bang! TV show during a seemingly endless production cycle that often required him to work 14-15 hours a day. It’s a cliche, but comedy is hard. Especially when you care as much about the finished product as Aukerman clearly does.
Through it all, Aukerman managed to pull together a diverse and revolving group of comic talents, inhibition-free celebrity guests, a unique blend of ideas, and the focus to make it seem like there was a method to the madness. His goal was clear and simple: be unique. He never wavered. Never mailed it in. All things must pass, though. Tonight at 11pm ET on IFC (its pre-Netflix home), this iteration of Comedy Bang! Bang! will conclude with a two-part finale.
We already reminded you of a few reasons why Comedy Bang! Bang! deserves your affection, but we also wanted to talk to Aukerman about his thoughts on the show’s legacy, the future of his creative relationship with current bandleader “Weird Al” Yankovic, and finding the freedom to do the show his way.
I have to confess, I have not seen the last two episodes yet. This came together kind of quickly and I didn’t have a chance to even ask for access.
Oh, they’re good.
If you want to lie to me about what’s in the last two episodes, feel free.
I could say anything.
Anything. So, when you know that you’re working towards the end of a show, do you start to have thoughts about its legacy and what people are going to think about the show when it’s gone?
I guess sometimes I think about legacy. It’s very weird because I think of the TV show, strangely enough… I view it as more of a legacy project than I do the podcast, in a way. I think a lot of fans would maybe say, “Oh, no. You’re going to be more well known for the podcast down the line.” I don’t know.
There’s something about making a TV show. I always put such a huge amount of passion into it that I really thought of it as, “This may be the only time that I ever get on a show that I get to star in.” So I wanted to do everything I wanted to do with it. I kind of always viewed it as a legacy project.
When I was winding down and we knew we were going to go into the last few episodes I just kind of wanted to get those ideas out of the way that I’d always wanted to do. It became a lot of discussions like that with the writers of, “Okay, we’ve always wanted to do our spin-off episode and this is our only time, what do we do with it?” So it became more thinking about getting our ideas out of the way than really cementing any kind of legacy because, at this point, not enough people have discovered the show in order to have one [laughs].
You know from Mr. Show that a legacy can build up over time, though. People just kind of find it.
Yeah. I mean, I hope that happens. I will say when we were doing Mr. Show I think we had a better understanding that if you like that kind of comedy, it was going to be one of your favorite shows. Whereas I have a pretty good idea that if you like this type of comedy, you may or may not like Comedy Bang! Bang! It’s even more particular, somehow. Which is fine.
When people say they don’t like it. I kind of wear that as a badge of honor because some people love it and it’s their favorite show and that means that I was being even more specific in a way. And to me, to be that specific and have it be a certain small amount of people’s absolute favorite show ever, to me that’s really important than being a show that’s sort of liked by a bigger amount of people. If that makes sense.
Any plans to work with Weird Al again in the future?
Yeah. Well, that was really the one bummer of the whole thing, is I felt like Al just got there and wanted to do more and I wanted to do more with him. I really enjoyed doing, not only the in-studio stuff, but… he won’t admit to this, but he’s actually a really great improviser. I feel like he was just getting so good in the role, but also I loved doing the Act Two videos with him. The real estate video is so funny or the real food video. So we’ve been talking about doing another show together that I would just produce.
That’s definitely something that I want to do next year. Start to figure out his next TV show.
You mentioned, in an interview with The A.V. Club, that you could see yourself doing more Comedy Bang! Bang! in the future, but is the want there to try and top yourself with a new idea or is this the kind of show you want to do and the maximum of your vision for a TV show?
I love the format of the show and I love the experience of doing the show. That’s another one of the regrets that I have. By the end, I thought we were so good at putting the show together. I was memorizing 25 to 30 pages of dialogue a day and I was improvising and I was acting and doing characters. I felt like we, in terms of technical proficiency, got so good at putting the show together that I kind of see down the road of, no one else can do it the way we did it. So I think it would be very easy to slip right back into it and do another season down the road for someone or somewhere.
That said, it’s always fun to do new things. But I feel like my entire career I’ve kind of at least balanced doing Bang! Bang! half the year and then doing other things. I’ve never really felt like I’ve lost that but I would like to try other challenges that I’ve never had time to do while I was doing Bang! Bang! like just acting. Acting in movies. Like I got a movie offer that I couldn’t do because I was doing the show. Or acting in a television show. I’ve never been able to go out and actually go to any audition or meet any directors or anything like that just because of the intense period of putting the show together. So there’s definitely stuff that I’d like to do that I wasn’t allowed to while the show was in production.
With the kind of freedom [you had], I can imagine it being really enticing to just kind of think about, “Maybe again someday.”
It really spoiled me in a way. We were allowed to do maybe 95 percent of what we wanted to do. The network gave us a lot of freedom and really only put the hammer down on a few things including jokes about Netflix. They seemed to hate those.
I can’t imagine why.
Two very specific jokes that they asked us to cut out of the show.
Can I ask what they were? They’re not your bosses anymore.
One was definitely… we filmed, it was for the Mike Colter episode [season 5, episode 18]. The original version was, “You’ve seen him on Netflix as Luke Cage but now he’s going to be on real TV. Aw, who am I kidding, you’re probably watching this on Netflix.”
[Laughs.] That’s good.
Then there was one joke I remember where I said, “Welcome to Comedy Bang! Bang! The Netflix comedy series which pre-airs on IFC.” That was not taken that well.
I can see why they might not love that one.
Yeah. But to the larger point, I mean, they were very supportive of letting us do what we wanted to do and occasionally there would be things that, I don’t want to say lower people, but say, not a top executive, we would turn in a show and they would say, “Hey, you can’t do that because of standards and practices” or something. The higher ups would always overrule them and let us do it and they were very very supportive of it.
The Comedy Bang! Bang! finale airs Friday on IFC at 11pm ET.