The Last ‘With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus’ for a While Is One for the Ages
The exquisitely silly “Generations” episode of With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus was released on November 11th, 2016, and, to this day, is the last episode of the weekly podcast to post. As Lapkus cheerfully explains in her introduction, she’s putting the wildly popular podcast on hold for the next few months while she works abroad, so the episode has the burden of having to hold fans over until Lapkus can return from her sojourn overseas and get back to the serious business of being one of the the podcast world’s favorite guests.
But the episode has an even greater burden as well. Because it was released only days after Donald Trump horrified all good people and set in motion a series of events that will probably lead to the apocalypse, and probably sooner rather than later, by getting elected President of the United States, it fell upon With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus to soothe the despair of a distraught and panicked nation and prove that it was possible to laugh again, even in a world where the phrase “President Elect Donald Trump” is a real thing, and not a gag from a dark satirical dystopian satire about the universe’s unfathomable cruelty.
Thankfully, Lapkus did something that more or less guaranteed that “Generations” would be one for the ages. As guests for her last podcast in a while, she reached out to the two funniest Comedy Bang Bang staples whose names are not Harris Wittels or Andy Daly: Paul F. Tompkins and Scott Aukerman. The chemistry between these three Earwolf All-Stars has been cemented on countless podcasts and live collaborations. They have an almost telepathic understanding of each others strengths and weaknesses but perhaps even more importantly, they clearly just love performing together.
“Generations” takes the form of a family podcast involving grandma Rosalie Gardenia-House (Paul F. Tompkins), her fifteen-year-old biological grand-daughter Buttercup (Scott Aukerman, with a high-pitched girly voice you’d imagine would become insufferable almost immediately but instead proves thoroughly hilarious), and the grandma’s grouchy 45-year-old adopted son Rogers (Lauren Lapkus), a five-foot-tall man perpetually wearing Kiss make-up and platform boots.
Rogers is not a happy man. He works with some of the non-dead Jackass people (though we learn here that the jackass who passed is now lovingly looking down on all the living jackasses from his perch in heaven) and is not happy about being a five-foot-tall weirdo with the world’s longest beard in a family otherwise full of 6’5″ Amazons who are bald as a cueball thanks to Alopecia.
Rogers understandably feels like an outsider in his family, even if his daughter dresses up in Cat Man make-up to make him feel less awkward but it eventually comes out that Rogers isn’t even part of the family of man, let alone part of what he imagines is his family. Rogers, you see, is a Sasquatch — but that’s far from the only shocking revelation contained in the podcast. We also learn that Rogers has amnesia and that Buttercup is both queer and a proud member of the alt-right. Just like Tila Tequila!
Paul F. Tompkins and Scott Aukerman’s encyclopedic knowledge of hilariously random pop culture ephemera is one of my favorite almost accidental running gags in Comedy Bang Bang. Aukerman resurrects that bit here and because he’s ostensibly portraying a 15-year-old girl who is a crazy combination of contradictory eccentricities, his weird interjections about Magic Johnson’s short-lived talk show and Cesar Romero’s half-assed preparations for playing the Joker on the 1960s Batman is even funnier and more unexpected.
A lot of the joy of “Generations” comes from the palpable pleasure Scott Aukerman clearly feels being liberated from the shackles of the straight man role he inhabits on Comedy Bang Bang to play a crazy character, in this case a helium-voiced, gargantuan, bald-headed teen girl who gingerly announces early in the podcast that she’s 15 years old and furthermore, “Got my period and everything.”
The episode is filled with inside jokes and references to Earwolf lore and the universe these three comic geniuses have built out over the course of Comedy Bang Bang as well as wonderfully quotable lines that are just as delightfully devoid of context as they are within the context of the show, like when a chuckling Tompkins sternly admonishes, “Don’t slut shame grandma on a podcast!” Now that is a t-shirt waiting to happen.
The podcast is a wonderful reminder of how powerful and transformative tomfoolery can be in the right hands, how it can provide an essential escape and release from the pressures and aggravations of the world. Of course Lapkus, Aukerman, and Tompkins crack up extensively throughout “Generations.” In the parlance of comedy, they are “corpsing” constantly but their laughter is both infectious and deserved. Lapkus, Aukerman, and Tompkins are only human, after all, but when they are in a podcast studio improvising together and they lock into a gloriously silly groove the way they do here, their hilarity borders on superhuman.