Kid Cudi Reggie Watts Comedy Bang Bang

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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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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