'Comedy Bang! Bang!' Host Scott Aukerman on A-List Guest Stars and His 'Crazy Ideas'
"We're doing everything bigger and better this year," he tells THR of the comedy-variety show's expanded second season, which premieres Friday night on IFC.
Comedy Bang! Bang! returns with a, well, bang on Friday night.
The second season of IFC's comedy-variety series, hosted by Scott Aukerman (Mr. Show With Bob and David) along with his musical cohort Reggie Watts, features a slew of big guest stars, including Zach Galifianakis, Jessica Alba, Zoe Saldana, Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Rashida Jones, Jason Schwartzmann and Paul Reubens, who reprises Pee-wee Herman character.
Comedy Bang! Bang! -- which got its start as a podcast and blends celebrity interviews with comedy sketches-- kicks off its season with Andy Samberg, who sits down to talk about how to pick up girls and stay out of the doctor's office. The second episode sees an elite team (Christopher Meloni, Echo Kellum and Kulap Vilaysack) dispatched inside a "sick" Aukerman while he interviews Aziz Ansari and craft services coordinator Fabrice Fabrice (Nick Kroll). (As with season one, episode titles take the simple -- but amusing -- format of "Andy Samberg Wears a Plaid Shirt and Glasses" or "Aziz Ansari Wears a Charcoal Blazer.")
Ahead of the premiere, Aukerman, who also serves as executive producer, talked to The Hollywood Reporter about what viewers can expect in the second season and why so many stars are interested in appearing on the show.
The Hollywood Reporter: You have a long list of celebrities guest-starring this season. Was it easier to book so many big names in your second season?
Scott Aukerman: The first season, I really relied on my friends and people in comedy that I had worked with over the years. So I kind of made these favor calls in a way; I would call up Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd and ask them to be on a TV show they had never seen that may or may not be good. I've also known Jon Hamm a really long time, and he was like, "Yep, no problem." The first year, it really was a lot of that -- me just relying on the kindness of my friends. Since the show came out last year and was really well received, this year it was slightly easier to get people. Anna Kendrick was actually the first person to sign on, and she wanted to do it. I had never met her before, but when she was on the show she told me she was a really big fan of the first season. People like Jessica Alba and Zoe Saldana I also had never met before; they are huge movie stars and never do this type of show; they view it as a really interesting challenge for them. Jessica Alba told me after the show that she didn't know if she could hang with us, but believe me, she did. She is really funny in it. The challenge for some people is to see if they can be funny in this environment. It's a challenge for big stars, but we take caer of them; we make sure they shine and are funny. It's not a huge time commitment either. It's a dream for people who don't normally do comedy; they can come in for an afternoon or just and hour and do something funny.
THR: Paul Reubens reprises his Pee-wee Herman character. How did that happen?
Aukerman: That was really exiting because Paul and Pee-wee were my No. 1 desired guest to be on the show. Comedy Bang! Bang! owes such a debt to Pee-wee's Playhouse. When the opportunity came about, I was so excited in the fact that he would even take a phone call from me. One of our writers, Paul Rust, works with Mr. Reubens a lot; they co-wrote the new Pee-wee Herman movie together. So he took a phone call from me, and I explained what the process was, and what we wanted to do with him. He was so generous with his time and wrote all new Pee-wee Herman bits for the show that had never been seen before. He came and hung out with us all afternoon and did an entire episode with us. It was something special for him to return to this character and add new material.
THR: Do you have another dream guest you hope to have on the show?
Aukerman: The other big influence on me as a comedian, and the show I obsessed over as a teenager, was Late Night With David Letterman. I taped it every single night and would watch it in the morning. So to have David Letterman or Chris Elliott on the show -- either of those guys would be a dream come true. You can see a lot of that show's influence in mine.
THR: What else can you reveal about the upcoming season?
Aukerman: We have 20 episodes this year [the first season was only 10], so we got to stretch out and experiment and do crazy ideas. Every time I thought an idea was too crazy and that the network would say, "No, I don't think you should do it," they wholeheartedly embraced it. We have a musical episode this year where Casey Wilson finally gets to show off her wonderful singing voice. We have a Halloween episode and a Christmas episode. There is one episode that was inspired by Sliding Doors, where in one reality I catch the bus and do the show and it comes off really well, and in the other reality I missed my bus and disaster happens. The great thing about making my show is that it's different every day. Myself and the writers and the crew -- none of us really know what to expect every day.
THR: The series has a unique format. What would you say to people who have never seen it?
Aukerman: The great thing is that people are finally catching up on Netflix; the first season is entirely streaming. People have been watching, and those who missed it when it was actually on TV are now going to be primed to see it in its second season. If you're a fan of the first season, we're doing everything bigger and better this year. We built a spaceship this year; we did an entire Tron-like universe at one point. All of the ideas are bigger and better. If you haven’t seen the show before, it makes you laugh literally 60 times per minute, and maybe even twice per second. That's 120 times per minute.
The second season of Comedy Bang! Bang! debuts at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Friday on IFC. The first 10 episodes will air through Sept. 13, with the second half of the season kicking off Oct. 18. Watch a clip from the premiere, which is exclusive to THR, below.