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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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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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