Comedian Scott Aukerman has created something of a Comedy Bang! Bang! multimedia empire, with a weekly performance showcase at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles and a popular podcast on his Earwolf network. A TV show version of the podcast debuted last month on IFC, taking the form of a surrealist late-night talk show where Aukerman is paired with bandleader Reggie Watts, having gleefully nonsensical conversations with the likes of Jon Hamm, Seth Rogen and Amy Poehler (pictured wearing a not-at-all conspicuous wig); and introducing segments like the hard-hitting commentary of "Maybe It's Just Me, But For Me" and caught-on-camera parody "Tsk Tsk / Attaboy." Now Comedy Bang! Bang! the TV show — like fellow IFC program Portlandia before it — is getting a live tour, starting its 12-date run Sunday night in San Diego, the last day of Comic-Con International. It's a natural fit for Aukerman, a comic book fan who first attended the event in 1985. Newsarama talked to Aukerman to discuss the tour, his favorite current comic books, and the importance of making a Daryl Hannah-esque splash. Newsarama: Scott, was kicking off the Comedy Bang! Bang! live tour at Comic-Con a deliberate decision, or did it just kind of work out as the natural starting point, schedule-wise?
Scott Aukerman: I've been going to Comic-Con for a long time. The first time I went was 1985, and that was back when it was in a totally different place. It was just kind of a sh*tty room where all that was really there were people selling comic books. I do remember they were showing some movies, but that was about all that was going on, and you would just kind of wander around and pick up old issues of Fantastic Four that you didn't have, and that's all there was to do.
That was my first one, and then I started coming back probably in 1997, and I've been going every year since then. I'm always there, and I've done a few shows there. I was on Patton Oswalt's show a couple years ago. I kind of figured if I was down there already, I may as well kick off the tour in grand fashion, with my people, the comic book nerds.
Nrama: So is the show going to be Comic-Con themed at all?
Aukerman: I don't know how many Comic-Con people are actually going to go to the show. It's the last day. It may just be San Diego people. At the same time, at that point I will have been there for five days straight, so I think that's all I'll really know. My old life will have burned away by that point, and I will simply be a Comic-Con attendee. I think that's all I'll really have to talk about.
Nrama: There are now several different iterations of Comedy Bang! Bang!. What will the live touring show look like?
Aukerman: It's going to be different every single night. I do the live performance showcase at UCB on Tuesday nights, I do the podcast every single week on Earwolf.com, and then I do the TV show. For this tour, I kind of wanted to do a combination of everything. The first part of the night is going to be myself, and whoever is there with me on that particular night, and we're all going to do pre-planned stand-up or performance bits. I'm going to show some stuff from the TV show. And then the last hour of the show is going to be a completely improvised podcast taping. So it'll be me talking to whatever guests happen to be there that night, some in character, some not in character, and we're just going to see what happens that particular night. It's going to be terrifying, I think, for me, and hopefully for the audience.
Nrama: But the fun type of terrifying.
Aukerman: Nope. Not at all. Literally, that is my hope for the shows, that the audience is frightened to death. About 15 minutes in, we look out and everyone's hair has turned white, and they just have ghastly looks of horror upon their faces, and they're frozen, and their fingernails have dug into their armrests, and everyone has died.
I also hope to reenact the Hall H stabbing that occurred [in 2010] — right in front of my wife, by the way. We were in Hall H, sitting right in front of the stabbing. I hope that we can reenact that experience, and show our side of the story.Nrama: With how stressed out people get around there, unfortunately it seemed almost inevitable something like that would happen.
Aukerman: I personally did not see it. I had the scary experience where I happened to go to the restroom milliseconds before it occurred, and I came out of the restroom and saw everyone in a panic, and standing on top of their chairs, and I kind of went, "Huh, something's going on." Then I made my way back to my seat, and as I was going back to my seat, more and more people were hysterical, and I started to get more and more frightened that something terrible had happened to my wife. But no, it just happened right in front of her.
Nrama: The show's now around the midpoint of its initial run. Have you been pleased with the reaction it's gotten?
Aukerman: People seem to either really love the show or absolutely hate it, which is exactly where you want to be, because you know that it's making a splash, and that worked out for Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, so I wanted to make one as well.
It's been great. I personally love the show, and can't believe that I tricked some poor people into giving me millions and millions of dollars and letting me do whatever I wanted with it. It was some sort of diabolical plan, akin to something that Mysterio or Silvermane would have concocted.
Nrama: You can definitely see the Silvermane influence in there. Are you still a regular comics reader, or lapsed a bit at this point?
Aukerman: I go every week, Wednesdays at 11 a.m. I got the pull list, and read a variety of things every week.
Nrama: What are some of your current favorites?
Aukerman: Fables, I think, is the modern classic of our time. I was actually trying to write the Fables movie. I was really going for it, I made a big play to do it. I was in a meeting at Warner Bros. about a totally, totally different project that they were doing, and the subject of comics came up, and the executive said, "Oh, is there a comic book movie that you've always wanted to write?" and I started talking about Fables, and he goes, "You're kidding me, I'm in charge of the Fables movie." Just on my own, I went home and wrote up like a 50-page treatment of what I thought a Fables trilogy would be. Nothing ever happened with it, but it was pretty good. I think I would have done a good job.
I love Saga, that's really great. Avengers Academy, that's an unsung hero, it's such a great book. I've been reading the last 150 issues of Amazing Spider-Man all in a row. I love Dan Slott's writing on Spider-Man. I think he should write the next Spider-Man movie. Or anyone else. Anyone else should write the next Spider-Man movie, other than the human beings who wrote this one.
The ol' Webhead is my favorite superhero, and, boy. One thing that's cool about this movie is that they finally figured out that Peter Parker shouldn't be a nerd, he should be a cool kid that skateboards and gets girls.
Nrama: Well, he has gotten a few girls in the comics.
Aukerman: At least when Steve Ditko and Stan Lee were doing it, he had some trouble with it. In the movie, he basically meets Gwen Stacy, and she goes, "Hey, you wanna go on a date?" and boom, they're boyfriend and girlfriend immediately.
I'm enjoying Before Watchmen, because in Watchmen, Ozymandias' plan was he's going to kill some superheroes, and then fake an alien invasion in order to bring about world peace — spoiler alert. In Before Watchmen, we get to figure out that he learned karate so he could beat up a bully. That's been fascinating; I think a story that really deserves to be told.
Nrama: Did he experiment with other martial arts first? Maybe a Krav Maga class?
Aukerman: Yeah, what other martial arts styles does he know? I hope it's an ongoing series, quite honestly, and every week we check back with him about one specific karate move he learned.
Nrama: So it sounds like both the Amazing Spider-Man movie and Before Watchmen movie get a "tsk tsk."
Aukerman: They unfortunately get a tsk tsk. But instead let's talk about the attaboys, because there are so many great things out there. I think Ultimate Spider-Man is always really great, really love that one. Gail Simone's Batgirl is really great; in fact the new villain in Batgirl is named after my wife.
Gail Simone wrote to me and asked if I thought my wife would mind if she named the villain after her. I was like, "Are you kidding me? She would be thrilled." I read it first, because I knew it was coming, then gave it to my wife, and was like, "Hey, I think you'll really like this issue of Batgirl," like a person who's giving away a really bad surprise party. "Hey, I think you should step inside this room here, where all the lights are off." But I gave it to her, and all of a sudden I heard a shriek. She's got wings, she's a badass fighter, and her name is "Kulap Vilaysack."
Animal Man and Swamp Thing, they're both great. I love Grant Morrison's stuff. I'm just a huge fan of his work. His whole Batman story is so fascinating, and Action Comics has been great. I personally loved his New X-Men run. That was one of the things that got me back into comics after taking eight to nine years off in the '90s. I grew up reading comics in the '80s during the Jim Shooter era of Marvel, so I have a lot of fondness for the Roger Stern/John Romita Jr. era of Spider-Man. Those are some of my favorite comics.
Nrama: Compared to the average population, there definitely seems to be an overlap between comedians and comic book fans — you, Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Paul Scheer. Why do you think that's the case?
Aukerman: Well, out of the hundreds and hundreds of comedians that are in the world, you've mentioned four, and four, may I say nerds. [Laughs.] We're still in the minority.
I went [to Comic-Con] with Brian Posehn a lot during the late '90s and early 2000s. We would share hotel rooms, and I would get the pure Brian Posehn sleeping, whimpering and farting experience. [Laughs.] Working in the creative arts, I think we respond to a lot of different creative arts, and comic books are one of them. Every year we go down, there's a ton of comedians there, and we all hang out.
Getting back to my show, that's what I'm looking forward to, having some of those comedians who are down there already for Comic-Con as special guests.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!