Master parodist Weird Al Yankovic starts up as bandleader on Comedy Bang! Bang! June 3, adding a big dose of Weird-ness to an already zany show. It’s the fifth season of Bang! Bang! on IFC, the Scott Aukerman-hosted mix of sketch comedy and talk with a small but dedicated following.
Yankovic succeeds the rapper Kid Cudi, who departed to focus on touring and recording, and before him, Reggie Watts, who moved on to lead the band on James Corden’s Late Late Show. He’s associated with song parodies, of course, such as “Eat It,” Yankovic’s scolding-parent take on Michael Jackson’s “Beat It,” and the James Brown-inspired “Living With a Hernia;” and kooky polka medleys.
But Yankovic says he won’t be bringing the accordion to the office. “The comedy on Comedy Bang! Bang! is all about subverting expectations,” he tells B&C. “I won’t be doing song parodies either.”
Band leader is a key role on Comedy Bang! Bang!; Yankovic describes his post as co-host as well. He’ll play around with “crazy vocal pyrotechnics” and compose what he calls “mini-theme songs” for each guest as they walk onto the set. “I’ll also get to strengthen my improv skills,” he says.
IFC ordered 20 episodes for this season. The premiere features Kevin Bacon and the comedy trio Lonely Island, which includes Andy Samberg and is behind new feature film Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.
Yankovic and Aukerman go back a ways; Yankovic appeared on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast before there was a show (the podcast launched in 2011, while the TV series arrived a year later), and says he’s been a guest on the show at least once every season. “I can’t remember when we first met, or what the meet-cute was,” he says. “But we’ve been friends a long time.”
The show draws fewer than 100,000 viewers per first-run episode, according to the New York Times, but Yankovic says that allows the Bang! Bang! players to continue experimenting with its absurdist humor. “It doesn’t get big ratings, but that can wind up being a good thing,” he says. “We fly way under the radar.”
That means crafting humor for the “comedy nerds,” Yankovic adds, “the comedy illuminati.”
The offer to be Bang! Bang! bandleader arrived via email just as Yankovic had completed a five-month tour and was contemplating an abundance of family time. He calls it “an offer I couldn’t refuse.”
“It was a chance to co-star in one of my all-time favorite TV shows, and work with some of the funniest people in the world,” says Yankovic. “Every day on set was a real joy.”