Every six months to a year or so, Parks And Recreation’s Ben Schwartz joins Scott Aukerman in the Earwolf studios for a singular Comedy Bang! Bang! experience. Known as “solo bolos,” the episodes involve plenty of joking around and catching up—but also copious amounts of singing, as both Aukerman and Schwartz (known to CBB fans as “The Elegant Mr. S”) are fans of spontaneous song. For the past two solo bolos, “Solo Bolo Dos Lo” and “Solo Bolo Trolo,” Aukerman and Schwartz have participated in what they term the “Olympic Song Challenge,” a bit where one person starts singing a cappella, while the second angles to switch the song at some point, albeit to a song that makes sense given the previous tune’s rhythm and topic. (It’s hard to explain. Just listen to it.) And while the Olympic Song Challenge is performed with no accompaniment on the show, one CBB listener, Chicago area musician Michael Hartigan, has taken it upon himself to add musical backing after the fact, thus giving the jokey run of tunes the true depth and substance it so richly deserves.
With the third Solo Bolo hitting earbuds just a couple of weeks ago on February 18, Hartigan recently sprung into action once again, and The A.V. Club is pleased to premiere his latest Olympic Song Challenge accompaniment below. As Hartigan told The A.V. Club, he specializes in “taking someone else’s idea and bringing it to fruition,” no matter how silly that idea might be.
CBB superfans might be interested to know that Hartigan’s latest solo bolo accompaniment took him between 12 and 13 hours to produce, longer than it has in the past, mostly due to Schwartz and Aukerman’s healthy zest for song this time around. He spends the time transcribing the vocal line (see the image below) before throwing in chord changes and tempo adjustments because—shocker—neither Aukerman nor Schwartz really manage to stay either on tune or on tempo throughout their riff. Then Hartigan says he lays down his piano line, later adding in whatever other instruments are necessary for the arrangement. The goal, Hartigan says, is to make the instrumentation sound like it was meant to be there the entire time, and while the process is tedious, Hartigan says he’s completely “dedicated,” mostly because he doesn’t want to “half-ass it.”
Interestingly, Hartigan says he only got into podcasts about a year ago and has met neither Schwartz nor Aukerman in person. He’s also never met the hosts of Harmontown, the Dan Harmon-helmed podcast that he’s also made quite a few tunes for.