Day One hundred and eighty-five: "Comedy Bang Bang Theme" from Medium Rarities
Al and Reggie Watts each made for perfect Comedy Bang Bang co-hosts/one man bands and comic foils to Scott Aukerman. They’re similarly both comic geniuses and utter originals but otherwise a study in contrasts.
Watts is a beatific, angel-headed hipster stoner God with jazz in his soul. He’s so inveterately original and intuitively opposed to repeating himself that each breath is probably markedly different from the last. His blood probably circulates in a different way every day just to keep things interesting.
As with Al, nobody in the world does what Reggie Watts does, let alone anywhere near as well. He’s a pure spirit who seems to live in a world all his own, a blessed realm infinitely more colorful and interesting than the dreary universe the rest of us are stuck in.
Watts isn’t just cool; he’s the epitome of cool. Watts doesn’t have to try to be cool; he just is. Cool is what he is. Cool is what he does. Cool is how he sees the world.
On Comedy Bang Bang Watts’ body was in studio but his brain was off in the cosmos, having crazy adventures. The yin and yang chemistry between Aukerman and Watts was essential to the cult show’s absurdist brilliance. Watts didn’t need to act or perform; he had such incredible charisma that all he had to do was exist onscreen to be utterly compelling.
Watts improvised what would become the Comedy Bang Bang theme song in studio during an episode of the podcast along with a slew of other similarly inspired ad-libbed miniature ditties. Watts was improvising loosely in the moment but the result was so stellar that it was used not only as the theme for the podcast but for the television show spin-off as well.
Like its composer, Watts’ hypnotic Comedy Bang Bang theme has the singular quality of being at once organic and funkily retro-futuristic. Watts uses technology to transform himself into the ghost in the machine, layering and distorting his vocals as he repeats the words “Comedy Bang Bang” over and over again with different emphases over a beat that grows in speed and momentum until a final, ecstatic release.
By reverently covering Watts’ theme, Al seemed to be implicitly acknowledging that the future Late Late Show With James Corden fixture defined the role of Comedy Bang Bang band-leader/co-host. He was the gold standard until Al slid easily into that role and proved equally ideal.
Just about the only element missing from Al’s cover is the percussive beat-boxing that gives Watts’ original an unmistakable Old School Hip Hop feel.
When Watts created what would become the Comedy Bang Bang theme song during an appearance on the podcast he could not have imagined that the inspired tomfoolery he created in the moment at Aukerman’s request would provide the theme song to both one of the best, most influential and important comedy podcasts of all time and the theme for a beloved cult television show that would run five seasons and one hundred and ten episodes.
When Watts ad-libbed the Comedy Bang Bang theme song he certainly could not have envisioned that a national treasure and American legend like Al would cover the tiny television tune on the final disc of a career-spanning, Grammy-winning box set. Not bad for less than forty seconds of inspired in-studio make-em-ups.
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