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Reggie's Back!

10 Hilarious Late Night Bandleader Moments

Reggie Watts stops by Comedy Bang! Bang! Thursday starting at 11P on IFC.

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There’s no job quite like that of a late night bandleader. Being proficient in every type of music imaginable — from hip hop to K-Pop to Opera — isn’t enough. You also have to be able to land a comedy bit, keep the show moving, and always know when to laugh at the host’s jokes. With Reggie Watts returning to Comedy Bang! Bang! this week to offer Kid Cudi some late night comedy show bandleader tips, here are a few supremely talented musicians being drop dead hysterical.


10. Cleto Escobedo III, Jimmy Kimmel Live!

When Jimmy Kimmel was given the keys to his own late night outpost, his first thought was “how can I get Cleto in on this?” Jimmy and Escobedo had grown up together in Vegas, and he’d always considered his longtime friend to be a musical savant. He was worried that ABC wouldn’t sign off on him picking his unknown, childhood friend as bandleader. Thankfully, after taking some execs to a performance, they immediately agreed. Escobedo has gone on to have a well received career fronting Cleto and the Cletones.


9. Doc Severinsen, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson

Doc first joined the The Tonight Show in the ’50s, during the Steve Allen era. He wouldn’t become the bandleader until 1967. His outrageous fashion sense soon trumped his incredible trumpet playing, becoming a staple of Carson’s nightly monologues. While never a huge part of the comedy, Severson proved he could be a natural when given the chance.


8. Bobby Rosengarden, The Dick Cavett Show

A one of a kind studio musician, Rosengarden played on The Steve Allen Show, The Ernie Kovacs Show and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show before being given his own band on The Dick Cavett Show. While he wasn’t known for his comedy chops, Bobby and his band could jump in on virtually any song, at a moment’s notice. And because Cavett created such a casual environment — where musicians, actors and newsmakers could show a different side of themselves — it wasn’t rare to see comedians jump in with the band. Granted, Jerry Lewis’ reputation has taken a hit in the last few years. Maybe there’s a better clip.

Hmmm, Woody might be a bit too controversial too.

Oooookay, maybe we should just move on…


7. Jon Batiste, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Colbert has said he chose Batiste as the leader of the Late Show band because he enjoyed improvising with him during his Colbert Report appearance. So far the pair have displayed a natural on-air chemistry, whether it’s in a comedy sketch or while grooving to the funky opening theme music.


6. Max Weinberg, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien

It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of classic Max bits from the glory days of Late Night. The drummer for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Conan gives Max credit for helping the show survive its turbulent, early days. Not a natural comedian, Weinberg carved out a niche for himself by being unfraid to go dark, especially with his sleazy persona. The Max of Late Night fame never met a hooker he didn’t like…at least until they ripped him off.


5. Fred Armisen, Late Night with Seth Meyers

Fred Armisen was a natural to assume the helm of the Late Night band when Seth Meyers took over as host. The duo had long been collaborators and friends on Saturday Night Live. Armisen, who began his career in music, could ably handle the various responsibilities of the job. The only problem is Armisen’s schedule with IFC’s Portlandia and Documentary Now!(Not that we’re complaining.) Still, Fred has created some memorable moments during his time on Late Night.


4. Questlove, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

It was quite the coup when Fallon first convinced Questlove and The Roots to be his house band on Late Night. What was a surprise was how adept Questlove proved to be at comedy. Quick with a laugh, he had plenty of personality to provide a counter balance to the show’s antic host. Fallon has excelled at putting his guests in positions where they can be silly and real. The above clip is a perfect example of how that bleeds over to the band as well. Jason Sudeikis was right — when it comes to the North and this video, the Internet never forgets.


3. Paul Shaffer, Late Night w/ David Letterman, The Late Show w/ David Letterman

Paul Shaffer must have been grown in a lab for the express purpose of being a late night bandleader. Few combine the music genius, comedy chops, and outrageous personality of the longtime Letterman sidekick. But Shaffer made a name for himself in the weird nexus of comedy and music long before Letterman came calling. A key part of the Toronto comedy scene that birthed Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd and Martin Short, he soon became the keyboard player for Bill Murray’s lounge singer act, an actor in Spinal Tap, a member of the SNL house band and the musical director for none other than The Blues Brothers. It was only a matter of time before he found his way to Late Night and the “World’s Most Dangerous Band.”


2. Reggie Watts, Comedy Bang! Bang!, The Late Late Show with James Corden

Reggie Watts built a career on his unique talent for combining improvisational music genius and downright silliness. As bandleader for Comedy Bang! Bang!, he got to be a much larger part of the action than most musical sidekicks do. While he’s moved on to Corden’s Late Late Show, we’re happy to see him back to his old tricks in his ’80s-themed “How to (Band) Lead” video.


1. Kid Cudi, Comedy Bang! Bang!

Kudi, a rapper first discovered by Kanye West, originally found his fame thanks to a popular mixtape. No one would have suspected his future lay in comedy, but we’re glad he’s chosen Comedy Bang Bang as his new home. Having recently taken over as CBB‘s bandleader and Scott Aukermanck’s musical sidekick, he’s already carving out his own incredible voice, one hilarious song at a time.

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Brock Hard

Brockmire’s Guide To Grabbing Life By The D***

Catch up on the full season of Brockmire now.

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“Lucy, put supper on the stove, my dear, because this ballgame is over!”

Brockmire has officially closed out its rookie season. Miss the finale episode? A handful of episodes? The whole blessed season?? You can see it all from the beginning, starting right here.

And you should get started, because every minute you spend otherwise will be a minute spent not living your best life. That’s right, there are very important life lessons that Brockmire hid in plain sight—lessons that, when applied thoughtfully, can improve every aspect of your awesome existence. Let’s dive into some sage nuggets from what we call the Book of Jim.

Life Should Be Spiked, Not Watered Down.

That’s not just a fancy metaphor. As Brockmire points out, water tastes “awful. 70% of the water is made up of that shit?” Life is short, water sucks, live like you mean it.

There Are Only Three Types of People

“Poor people, rich people and famous people. Rich people are just poor people with money, so the only worthwhile thing is being famous.” So next time your rich friends act all high and mighty, politely remind them that they’re worthless in the eyes of even the most minor celebrities.

There’s Always A Reason To Get Out Of Bed

And 99% of the time that reason is the urge to pee. It’s nature’s way of saying “seize the day.”

There’s More To Life Than Playing Games

“Baseball can’t compete with p0rnography. Nothing can.” Nothing you do or ever will do can be more important to people than p0rn. Get off your high horse.

A Little Empathy Goes A Long Way

Especially if you’ve taken someone else’s Plan B by mistake.

Our Weaknesses Can Be Our Greatest Strengths

Tyrion Lannister said something similar. Hard to tell who said it with more colorful profanity. Wise sentiments all around.

Big Things Come To Those Who Wait

When you’re looking for a sign, the universe will drop you a big one. You’re the sh*t, universe.

And Of Course…

Need more life lessons from the Book of Jim? Catch up on Brockmire on the IFC App.

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Oh Mama

Mommie May I?

Mommie Dearest Is On Repeat All Mothers Day Long On IFC

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The cult-classic movie Mommie Dearest is a game-changer. If you’ve seen it even just once (but come on, who sees it just once?), then you already know what we’re talking about.

But if you haven’t seen it, then let us break it down for you. Really quick, we promise, we’ll even list things out to spare you the reading of a paragraph:

1. It’s the 1981 biopic based on the memoir of Christina Crawford, Hollywood icon Joan Crawford’s adopted daughter.
2. Faye Dunaway plays Joan. And boy does she play her. Loud and over-reactive.
3. It was intended as a drama, but…
4. Waaaaaay over-the-top performances and bargain-basement dialogue rendered it an accidental comedy.
5. It’s a cult classic, and you’re the last person to see it.

Not sold? Don’t believe it’s going to change your life? Ok, maybe over-the-top acting isn’t your thing, or perhaps you don’t like the lingering electricity of a good primal scream, or Joan Crawford is your personal icon and you can’t bear to see her cast in such a creepy light.

But none of that matters.

What’s important is that seeing this movie gives you permission to react to minor repeat annoyances with unrestrained histrionics.

That there is a key moment. Is she crazy? Yeah. But she’s also right. Shoulder nipples are horrible, wire hangers are the worst, and yelling about it feels strangely justified. She did it, we can do it. Precedent set. You’re welcome.

So what else can we yell about? Channel your inner Joan and consider the following list offenses when choosing your next meltdown.

Improperly Hung Toilet Paper

Misplaced Apostrophes

Coldplay at Karaoke

Dad Jokes

Gluten Free Pizza

James Franco

The list of potential pedestrian grievances is actually quite daunting, but when IFC airs Mommie Dearest non-stop for a full day, you’ll have 24 bonus hours to mull it over. 24 bonus hours to nail that lunatic shriek. 24 bonus hours to remember that, really, your mom is comparatively the best.

So please, celebrate Mother’s Day with Mommie Dearest on IFC and at IFC.com. And for the love of god—NO WIRE HANGERS EVER.

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Breaking News

From Canada With Love

Baroness von Sketch Show premieres this summer on IFC.

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Breaking news that (finally) isn’t apocalyptic!

IFC announced today that it acquired acclaimed Canadian comedy series Baroness von Sketch Show, slated to make its US of A premiere this summer. And yes, it’s important to note that it’s a Canadian sketch comedy series, because Canada is currently a shining beacon of civilization in the western hemisphere, and Baroness von Sketch Show reflects that light in every way possible.

The series is fronted entirely by women, which isn’t unusual in the sketch comedy world but is quite rare in the televised sketch comedy world. Punchy, smart, and provocative, each episode of Baroness von Sketch Show touches upon outrageous-yet-relatable real world subjects in ways both unexpected and deeply satisfying: soccer moms, awkward office birthday parties, being over 40 in a gym locker room…dry shampoo…

Indiewire called it “The Best Comedy You’ve Never Seen” and The National Post said that it’s “the funniest thing on Canadian television since Kids In The Hall.” And that’s saying a lot, because Canadians are goddamn hilarious.

Get a good taste of BVSS in the following sketch, which envisions a future Global Summit run entirely by women. It’s a future we’re personally ready for.

Baroness Von Sketch Show premieres later this summer on IFC.

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