Jay Spanbauer

Real Fake People

Three great TV comedy shows feature comedians who are sort of real-life characters. But not really.

By - May 14th, 2014 04:15 pm
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This is something of a new era for comedy on TV, with an out-of-the-box style that’s not necessarily mainstream, but is gathering huge acclaim from critics and many viewers. Here are three of my favorite of these shows, all of which feature comedians or guests who might be (but usually aren’t quite) real-life characters.


This show, on FX, stars the hilarious Louis CK in a kind of absurdist version of the classic “comedian off-stage” show. Louis CK is one of the country’s premier comedians, and the show has been critically praised since its inception.

In its fourth season, the show – written, shot, directed and edited by Louis – has hit its stride, despite doing its best to avoid any label. That said, the unique style of the show, matched with Louis’ sensibilities, create what could almost be considered a dramatic comedy, the not-quite-real life of the comedian.

Louis CK’s 2010 special “Hilarious” was recorded at Milwaukee’s Pabst Theater. And with the comedian known for shooting one special per year, it’s possible Louis CK will grace a Milwaukee stage at some point this year. But make sure you get your tickets early, as this show will sell out quickly.

“Louie” airs on FX at 9 PM.

CBB-301-1Comedy Bang! Bang!

“Comedy Bang! Bang!” on IFC just began its third season, and was recently picked up for a fourth season of 40 episodes. You read that correctly – forty. Aukerman and crew are doing everything right, it seems.

The show, based on the popular podcast of the same name, stars Scott Aukerman alongside sidekick and one-man-bandleader, Reggie Watts in what is essentially a faux-talk show meets “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” It’s not easy to give a full synopsis of the show.

The program boasts off-brand laughs with sharp and witty writing. But the highlight is the wide range of its guests. Huge names from Patton Oswalt to Josh Groban or “Weird Al” Yankovic to Zach Galifianakis grace the show as themselves, or sometimes in character. The names of past and future guests are endless.

The past two years has seen “Comedy Bang! Bang!” touring the country – including a hilarious show for a packed Turner Hall crowd. There’s a good chance Aukerman and company hit the road again this year, and if so, I don’t see them leaving Milwaukee off the schedule. You can also see one of this season two’s guests, Aziz Ansari, at the Riverside on Monday, May 19.

“Comedy Bang! Bang!” airs on IFC Thursdays at 9:30 PM.


Also adapted from a popular podcast, “WTF with Marc Maron,” and sharing Thursday’s on IFC with ‘Bang! Bang!’ is the second season of “Maron.” The show stars comedian and podcast host Marc Maron as, you guessed it, a comedian and podcast host. The semi-real program focuses on Maron’s struggles with family, relationships and other daily happenings, while balancing a career as a standup comedian and garage-based radio host. And cat owner.

In its second season, the show is developing more, and the very personal side of Maron’s wildly successful podcast is showing. Along with Judd Hirsch playing the role of Maron’s father, the show features an array of fantastic guests that join Maron either in the garage or throughout his day, such as Dave Foley, Ray Romano, Bobcat Goldthwait, Anthony Jeselnik and Pete Holmes along with many others.

Though Maron does this show and releases two episodes of his podcast weekly, he continues to tour as a standup comedian, which he’s been doing for over 25 years, often making stops in Milwaukee and Madison. Given his increasing notoriety, the next time you see Maron in Milwaukee, he’ll likely be in a larger venue.

“Maron” airs on IFC Thursdays at 9 PM.

0 thoughts on “Comedy: Real Fake People”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the info on these three comedy shows. (Often I forget that TV is a great venue for comedy!)

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