'Comedy Bang! Bang!' Gets Awkwardly Funny with the Help of Sony Cameras
With a line-up that includes Portlandia and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, IFC has started to make a name for itself as a go-to destination for off-kilter comedy. Their latest offering, Comedy Bang! Bang!, which premieres on June 8th, follows this same irreverent sensibility.
Hosted by Scott Aukerman, and based off of the podcast of the same name, Comedy Bang! Bang! is part talk show (à la Between Two Ferns – which Aukerman co-created), part sketch show. It harkens back to the unpredictable silliness of Pee-Wee's Playhouse but with a decided adult sensibility. In the first episode a wacky sommelier pairs wines with different segments of the show while an interview with Zach Galifianakis turns to his placement in the pantheon of "overweight, mostly dead" comics.
Says director Benjamin Berman about the tonal pedigree of the show, "We definitely wanted to build something polished. Between Two Ferns does such a great job of playing up the low-fi awkwardness of everything. Bang Bang is a different beast. We definitely wanted it to look a little slicker which fits in with IFC's branding a bit more, which is comedy shows shot like independent films. We wanted to up the production values."
To do that, cinematographer Bridger Nielson shoots everything in 24p with five Sony cameras: two PMW-350s, one EX3 and two F3s. All five cameras are used in the studio set-up while the out-of-studio sketches are usually shot with the F3s.
The sit-down interviews are typically improvised and shot in two or three takes with the multi-camera set-up. "Usually the interviews run anywhere from 7 to 18 minutes long," Berman explains. "And then, in the show, it ends up being 3 1/2 minutes so there is tons and tons that we don't end up using that would probably be DVD extras."
On the other hand, Berman says that they use almost everything they shoot for the out-of-studio sketches, which are usually scripted as opposed to improvised and have a one-camera set-up.
The show is edited on Final Cut Pro 7 and with Adobe After Effects.
Fans of Aukerman, Galifianakis, co-star Reggie Watts or "awkward comedy" in general should find a lot to love in Comedy Bang! Bang! Says Nielson, "I have a ton of friends who are religiously fans of the podcast. I think that everyone's going to be pretty excited that it's going to be transferring to TV."