For those who draw a distinction in the meaning of “funny” — as in “Ha ha,” say, vs. “peculiar” — IFC seeks to add a third option, loosely described as “teeth-achingly irritating.” Into that category comes “Comedy Bang! Bang!” the latest Web creation to migrate to a bigger TV stage; and “Bunk,” a more conventional, slightly better gameshow satire. The two concepts do forge a compatible hour, just one highly narrow in its appeal and more intent on snark than laughs, delivering relatively little bang for the comedy buck.
Adapted by Scott Aukerman (co-creator of “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis”) from his podcasts, “Bang! Bang!” also skewers the conventions of talkshows, and enlists celebs (including Galifianakis in the premiere) to participate in awkward improvised banter. There are also actors playing quirky guests and lapses into the simply bizarre, like Aukerman walking out of his studio and into what looks like a science-fiction movie.
While it would be unfair to say “Comedy Bang! Bang!” lacks moments of inventiveness, the whole exercise has the precious feel of a student project, and frankly its main conceits — lampooning empty celebrity-talk blather, with stars gamely playing along as versions of themselves — have been done so frequently as to grind down any edge.
Ditto for the idea of Aukerman presenting himself as a self-absorbed TV personality, or little flourishes like having an in-studio bartender (played by Reno 911!’s” Thomas Lennon) who gets drunk and takes a leak during the show.
The series has assembled a solid roster of participating talent — including Michael Cera, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Amy Poehler and Seth Rogen in future episodes — and for IFC, eager to get noticed, that’s probably enough.
As for “Bunk,” the show also skewers what amounts to a slightly moribund genre, the wacky gameshow, with producer/host Kurt Braunohler fronting a contest in which a trio of comics compete in utterly absurd challenges, like trying to “shame puppies.”
Braunohler giddily refers to the show as “inane and meaningless,” and there’s certainly no quarrel there. Yet while “Bunk” dares to be odd — one contestant is playing to trade lives with a baby — this is mostly TV for the chemically enhanced, in the Adult Swim mode.
To be fair, IFC has enjoyed modest success with the sketch comedy “Portlandia,” which has no doubt informed the tone of its choices, along with the channel’s “Always On. Slightly Off” slogan.
Still, if game and talkshow spoofs are as good as it gets, we’ll take “Off,” please.