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TV That Matters: IFC Friday night line-up

By Christina MurphyCOLUMNIST


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Nights are getting colder, decent parties are few and far between and final papers are fast approaching their due dates. Needless to say, spending Friday nights anywhere other than my bed sounds like the worst idea ever. If you too have plans of becoming a hermit in the upcoming months, you should consider tuning into the IFC Friday night line-up.

IFC’s slightly “off” programming this fall consists of “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and the second season of sketch comedy show, “The Birthday Boys,” which premiered Oct. 17.

“Comedy Bang! Bang!” is somewhat of a talk show hosted by comedian Scott Aukerman, and features the music and comedy stylings of Reggie Watts. This podcast-turned-weekly-talk-show follows a unique format that is more of a comedy showcase than a traditional talk show.

There are usually two guests, one that is a comedian interviewing as themself, and another that is one of several reoccurring comedic guests who interviews as a character or impression. The interviews are heavy on improvised bits, more so than a traditional interview. It’s certainly not a show fit for everyone and cannot always sustain laughs throughout the entire episode. Ellie Kemper said it the best in her own interview, “This is getting weird.”

Aukerman has a dry sense of humor that can sometimes be more irritating than funny. His typical outfits, composed of a plaid button up collar that peaks out of a V-neck sweater, khaki pants and sneakers, paired with his deadpan delivery of speech makes him seem like a long lost cast member of the “Big Bang Theory.” Perhaps having a grating personality is a necessary requirement for all stars of a show with the word “bang” in the title?

My favorite part of this show has always been Reggie Watts, who composes all of the music for the show and acts as Aukerman’s sidekick. In the particular episode I watched, “Ellie Kemper Wears a Purple Ruffled Sleeveless Top & Lavender Flats,” Reggie joins a book club and become too occupied with reading “The Great Gatsby” that he cannot properly make music or engage in conversation. This episode was not the best showcase of his talents, but funny nonetheless.

My favorite segment of the show was a digital sketch, called “Retool the School” where Aukerman is the host of a makeover show for underprivileged schools. He spruces up a music school in need, offering them new instruments and brings indie rock band, The National, to teach the students. Ultimately, we learn that he expects the school to pony up some dough for the costly renovations. The National makes it very clear that they do not teach for free.

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Following “Comedy Bang! Bang!” was the season premiere of “The Birthday Boys.” “The Birthday Boys” is a seven-man comedy troupe lead by “Breaking Bad’s” Bob Odenkirk as the eighth member and executive producer of the show.

Each episode usually follows a theme and at some point most, if not all, of the sketches connect together. The premiere episode’s theme was “Snobs and Slobs” which was depicted through the saga of Dan Dinkle (Tim Kalpakis), a man who begins his journey as one of the free-spirited preppy teens in a commercial for the fictional designer “Lawrence Eastman” – you know those commercials where dream pop music plays while young rich kids are having fun on a beach in polo shirts and salmon colored shorts.

Dinkle’s only hang-up is that he does not want to get any of his new expensive clothing dirty, so he chooses to seclude himself from the not-safe-for-suede-lifestyle of his friends and start his own clothing company for people who want freedom in their clothing – which is now consisted mostly of free t-shirts one would get for running in a charity 5k event, and sweatpants.

With the exception of the main recurring sketch on the show, the secondary sketches feel like they lack a main component that would make them great. Most of the concepts are very funny ideas and the sketches themselves are mildly tantalizing, but there is a piece missing that could round the sketch out and take them to the next level. The show is more a collection of giggles rather than any really big laughs.

“Comedy Bang! Bang!” airs Fridays at 11:00 p.m. followed by “The Birthday Boys” at 11:30 p.m. on IFC.

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