Let's talk about notable scenes of kids being put to bed, something we've all either done or had done to us. It starts at 34:19. But first, we've seen movies! Burning at 2:00, Corporate Animals at 15:35, and The House at the End of the Street at 27:30..
I do. But there’s only so much damage you can do to four minutes of Zach Galifianakis doing a sketch with a famous person. Those were great before the schtick got too obvious. But for a classic example of what Auckerman considers funny, check out Comedy Bang Bang. That’s the sort of thing you get when Between Two Ferns turns into a 90-minute movie.
LOL. This is the kind of statement that tells you far more about the person making it than the subject.
Between Two Ferns :super cringy, but so many good jokes.
By the way, the interviews were absolutely not scripted. That’s kinda the whole point. In fact to the surprise of no one watching the disjointed plot, other than the scene-by-scene structure, the entire movie was unscripted.
Hearkening back to ET, three years ago I took my kids to see it at a local movie theater. They were showing all 80’s classics on the big screen in advance of their grand opening.
The kids had never watched ET. Just as ET was in the freezer, Elliot weeping, a fire alarm in the theater went off and we had to evacuate the building.
We drove home unresolved, and along the way I remarked to the kids that the ending of ET always bummed me out. So sad.
…I had the DVD at home, so they got to watch the ending, but a fun car ride for sure.
Wait, you think Galifianakis is improving that list of questions he’s reading? You think all that cross-country trip banter was organic? And what do you mean by “other than the scene-by-scene structure”? That’s what a script is.
LOL back at you. Listen to Comedy Bang Bang sometime if you want to hear what “unscripted” sounds like. It’s a whole other level of cringeworthy.
And I guarantee you there was a script for how the interviews would go, as well as lines written for some of the interviewees. And even then, “Okay, Miss Larson, just sit there and don’t react while Zach reads inappropriate questions that he and Scott thought up and wrote down during pre-production” is a kind of script. Hilarious!
But here’s the issue: in most of the segments, there’s no meaningful interaction between Galifianakis and the guest. 99% of effective improv is actors interacting with each other or their audience. The Between Two Ferns sketches that were good – the Bradley Cooper one, the Charlize Theron one – were good because the guests had meaningful interaction with Galifianakis besides sitting there and pretending to be uncomfortable. Zach Galifianakis is a phenomenal comedian with a sharp, quick wit. He does deadpan like no one else. But you can only get so far having him sit there and read insults at celebrities who are obviously playing along.
Now if you find that funny, that’s cool. No one in the history of entertainment discussions has ever said humor wasn’t subjective. But every time I’ve heard Scott Aukerman on a podcast – I’m not sure if he’s done on-camera stuff – he tends to be the least funny and loudest performer. I’m not at all surprised that giving him a full-length feature film results in the Between Two Ferns movie.
Scott is never going to be the funny part of a CBB podcast (or of anything else, pretty much). He definitely has a certain sensibility, and he knows and works well with a ton of really talented improvisers and comics. He was also a writer on Mr Show (and w/Bob and David) if that does anything for you.
Any list of best CBB episodes, though, is going to be all about Andy Daly and Paul F Tompkins with Scott (at best) not getting in the way too much. Here’s one of my favorite Daly episodes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Cx7gJL7MVs I’m not up to trying to think of a PFT episode that is my favorite, since so many of them are so great. Also, the old CBBs aren’t online for free anymore, so most of the ones I know well (like from 7 years ago) are inaccessible. I am partial to his Andrew Lloyd Webber character.
If you want a more pure example of Scott Aukerman, you should listen to episodes of U Talkin’ U2 to Me (the comprehensive and encyclopedic compendium of all things U2 with cohost Adam Scott) instead. I know plenty of people who love CBB who think this is impossible to sit through. My two favorite episodes of that are Staind Glass (https://www.earwolf.com/episode/staind-glass/ – a side episode where they make Todd Glass listen to Staind because they thought it was a fun pun) and the commentary episode (https://www.earwolf.com/episode/commentary-special/ – where they play the audio from an earlier episode in the background while Scott, Scott, PFT, Lance Bangs, and Harris Wittels talk shit over it).
Anyway. I haven’t checked out the Between Two Ferns movie (yet), but I have no difficulty believing it is unwatchable. Scott has directly or indirectly given me literally thousands of hours of entertainment over the years, but his undiluted sensibility can be pretty hard to take.
The bedtime scene in Four Lions for me - a wannabe terrorist confessing his failure at the training camp and disagreeing with his own son when he says, ‘but you have to tell the truth!’ all through warping the story of the Lion King out of shape. It’s kinda heartbreaking and ridiculous.
If I had to pick one, it might be 148 (Wipeout), which introduces Andy Daly’s Dalton Wilcox character (and also runs through many of his others). My actual favourite episode would probably be one of the specials like episode 300, but there’s not a lot of point listening to that unless you’re going to get most of the callbacks. So maybe another one would be 289 (The Exorcism of Cake Boss) or 274 (Oh Golly, You Devil), another Andy Daly tour de force.
Agreed that Andy Daly (especially) and PFT are always superb. I’d also say that any episode with Carl Tart, Claudia O’Doherty, Matt Gourley, Jess McKenna, Kristian Bruun and Tatiana Maslany or Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair is worth listening to, though I’d note that there’s a lot of backstory with the characters the last two usually play. Several of Zeke Nicholson’s characters always make me crack up too, though they may be more of an acquired taste.
You can search for episodes by guest/character on the Wiki. Most of the old episodes are behind a Stitcher Premium paywall, but they’re pretty much all on Youtube.
Yeah, his role on CBB is, not so much a straight man, as a lame man. The naffness of his humour offsets the wackiness and occasional edginess of the guests’ characters. Some of my all-time favourite moments are when a PFT character calls him out on the dumbness of his comments/gags.