Scott Aukerman's Comedy Bang! Bang! takes to the Cedar stage [review]

Categories: Comedy
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If comedy podcasts are in the midst of a boon, Scott Aukerman's ever-popular Comedy Bang Bang sits at the very top of the totem pole (it's only real rival being Marc Maron's WTF). Aukerman's podcast was recently transformed into a live-action IFC series, Comedy Bang! Bang!, co-starring Reggie Watts and a bevy of high-profile stars (John Hamm, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, just to name a few). The show is filled with off-kilter witticisms and absurd banter that bounces between delightfully weird to outright hilarious, and features a rotating crew of guests and characters played by seasoned standups such as Paul F. Tomkins and Nick Kroll.

Last night, Aukerman and his cohorts James Adomian and Matt Besser brought their oddball variety show to Minneapolis, kicking off their two-month tour with a sold-out show at the West Bank's Cedar Cultural Center.

Considering the discursive nature of the program, translating the it into something comprehensive for a live audience could have been a difficult task. Fortunately, by incorporating all the essential components of Comedy Bang Bang into the live show there were few -- if any -- hiccups along the way.

Much like the podcast itself, the show relied on good amount of improv, occasionally inviting audience members onstage. Aukerman's opening monologue included a hysterical exchange with an attendee who jokingly volunteered to be the fire captain for the evening. Before diving into the night's feature act, Comedy Bang Bang regulars James Adomian and Matt Besser followed suit with two stellar sets. While the two standup comedians don't cover similar territory in their material, their strengths both lie in their comedic versatility and whip-smart joke writing. Besser's comedy world record segment was by far my favorite moment of the night.

The highlight of the evening was the final segment, featuring guest characters Bjork (played by Besser) and Jesse Ventura (played by Adomian). Watching them riff off each other confirmed just how deft all three performers are, even outside the studio. Besser's comedic interpretation of our former Governor and conspiracy-theory enthusiast Jesse Ventura proved to be the driving force of the show as he baited the audience with everything from conspiratorial musings to repeated quips referencing his term as Governor of Minnesota.

In an age where standup comedy is enjoying somewhat of a mainstream resurgence, it's reassuring to a see that Aukerman's creation can be just as funny and engaging in a live setting. If anything, Comedy Bang Bang serves as a model for the myriad podcasts interested in exploring different outlets and broadening their audience.
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