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The Comedy Bang! Bang! Podcast-to-TV Pipeline Is Still Going Strong

Drew Tarver and Carl Tart are just two of the recent podcast standouts gracing TVs today.
  • Carl Tart in Grand Crew and Drew Tarver in The Other Two (Photo: Jordin Althaus/NBC; Greg Endries/HBO Max)
    Carl Tart in Grand Crew and Drew Tarver in The Other Two (Photo: Jordin Althaus/NBC; Greg Endries/HBO Max)

    The Comedy Bang! Bang! (CBB) podcast just celebrated its 14th anniversary, solidifying itself as one of the longest running podcasts alongside pioneering shows like This American Life, Never Not Funny, and WTF With Marc Maron. Years before every celebrity and person with a microphone was pumping out episodes of interview-style shows or rewatch series, Scott Aukerman was hosting one of the silliest shows out there.

    The format has been the same since the beginning: Aukerman introduces a primary guest, typically an actor, musician, or comedian who comes on as themselves to discuss an upcoming project. The subsequent guests are comedians playing outrageous characters, and the show is completely improvised from there. This led to a more tightly scripted and produced TV show, also called Comedy Bang! Bang!, which ran on IFC from 2012 to 2016. But it’s the podcast that has allowed comedians to hone their chops before making their way onto TV shows of their own.

    The CBB-to-TV pipeline has manifested in two different ways. There are the characters who were introduced on the podcast and ended up on television in an unrelated show — Comedy Central’s The Kroll Show, for example, is filled with characters that Nick Kroll first introduced on Aukerman’s podcast. Without CBB, there wouldn’t be Bobby Bottleservice, Fabrice Fabrice, or Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, also the main characters of Netflix’s Oh, Hello on Broadway.

    Then there are the comedians who first gained a following among the podcast’s listeners and later ended up on TV, people like Paul Rust (Love), Tawny Newsome (Space Force, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Eugene Cordero (Loki), Tim Baltz (The Righteous Gemstones), and Ego Nwodim (Saturday Night Live). Reggie Watts had a well-established career as a musician and comedian before composing the podcast’s theme song, which led him to become a prominent part of the Comedy Bang! Bang! TV show before becoming the band leader of The Late Late Show With James Corden.

    The guest lineup for CBB’s 14th anniversary episode, which was released on May 1, includes two longtime standouts from the podcast: actors Carl Tart and Drew Tarver, who also happen to be on two of the funniest shows of the year, Grand Crew and The Other Two.

    Tart’s and Tarver’s over-the-top performances on their respective comedies are reminiscent of the bizarre characters they played on CBBs. On Grand Crew Tart plays Sherm, a wine-loving, wise-cracking man about town who is always ready to party. He’s single and he likes it that way, making fun of his friends who get tied up in situationships or marriage troubles. Tart brings a confident playfulness to his character that sells every punchline, and a larger-than-life attitude that suits the show’s more off-kilter moments, as when Sherm was whisked away for dinner with a billionaire who stole all of his best business ideas in Season 2.

    Tarver’s penchant for eccentric behavior serves him well as Cary on The Other Two: As the fame-hungry brother of teen pop sensation ChaseDreams (Case Walker), he’s forced into some pretty strange and, in Season 3, surreal situations. Tarver rises to the occasion, never afraid of going too far in the show’s most outrageous moments, including the time a photo Cary took of his butthole in an airplane bathroom went viral.

    The pair has more than 100 appearances on CBB between them, giving them plenty of airtime to put their spin on impressions of real people like Charles Barkley (Tart) or potentially real people, like Justin Beiber’s third cousin Craig Bieber (Tarver) as well as create completely new characters like MC Sugarbutt (Tart), the rapper who talks entirely in rhymes, and Little Dammit Man (Tarver), a seven-year-old with a foul mouth.

    One of their most memorable appearances on the podcast was during Episode 616, when they performed together as members of the band Memphis Kansas Breeze, skewering country singers who love to sing about their trucks. Things start innocently (though still bizarrely) enough with “Truck’s Birthday,” a song about a man celebrating his truck’s birthday with a cake made of gasoline. By the end, however, Tart and Tarver can barely keep it together as they detail just how grotesque the human-truck hybrid baby that a man procreated with his truck is (it’s worth mentioning that this was also years before the movie Titane).

    It’s one of many podcast bits that showcase Tart and Tarver’s ability to collaborate with other comedians, a crucial element to both of their TV shows, along with their willingness to fully commit to a completely ridiculous joke. Grand Crew rises above most hangout comedies on the strength of its ensemble, of which Tart is a key part. On The Other Two, Tarver embraces every scene, whether it’s Cary being part of a fart joke or debasing himself for more social media followers.

    CBB shows no signs of slowing down — the podcast still manages to score excellent guests and showcase new comedic talent every week. And even those who don’t listen to the podcast won’t be missing out for long, because, as CBB has proven, it’s only a matter of time before its standout performers make their way to TV, where they can reach ever bigger audiences.

    Comedy Bang! Bang!: The Podcast streams weekly on Earwolf.  

    Brianna Wellen is a TV Reporter at Primetimer who became obsessed with television when her parents let her stay up late to watch E.R. 

    TOPICS: Comedy Bang! Bang!, Grand Crew, The Other Two, Carl Tart, Drew Tarver, Ego Nwodim, Nick Kroll, Paul Rust, Scott Aukerman, Tawny Newsome, Tim Baltz