I hope I freaked at least one person out with that title. No, I am not about to go into a new phase in my life where I struggle for health, that's just a line from a Stephen Lynch song that makes me laugh harder than a heyena in an elephant graveyard. See for yourself.
Anyway, I have having a spirited little debate the other day with a friend of mine. If you look on my followers list, he's the black and white one. We were talking about singing comedians and the skills they have to bring to the table. He pointed out, quite fairly, "I can write funny lyrics. If somebody is doing something I know I can do, I'm not impressed". He has a very good point, and in my opinion he covers a good 90% of all singing comedians. Most of them are guys who aren't really THAT funny, can't sing THAT well, and can't play guitar THAT amazingly, but when you link the three together, it looks like an actual performance. And, of course, since a song only lasts five minutes tops, the audience has to absorb all these things at once, so they end up cheering for somebody who probably doesn't deserve it. But there are a few shining beacons of light out there in the comedy world, and I wanted to analyze what made me (and MANY others) dig the hell out of these few singers.
I believe there are three types of musical comedians. Actually, there are probably hundreds of types, but I can only think of three that are good. There is the triple threat, who can sing like a bird, play like hell, and write witty, original lyrics. Stephen Lynch falls into this category for me. As a performer he's top notch (The man was on BROADWAY for god sakes), he's an amazing singer who writes funny and contravesial songs (and isn't scared of reactions), and he can play guitar like a madman. He brings everything a performer would need to bring to the table, and from everything I've heard, he's a hell of a nice guy to boot. David Johanasburg is in this category too, and since you've probably never heard of him, I'll put a song him and Lynch did together for a sampling. (Be warned, this one's really dirty. That's AFTER hearing Waiting...)
Type number two is the kind of guy who is just so naturally talented at singing, and has such a goofy personality, he can sing normal songs and make you laugh all the way through them. The weird part about this group is that there are plenty of established, professional singers who can fit into it as well. Eminem, Brad Paisley, and Dexter from the Offspring are three very different examples of this fact. All three of them have songs on their CD's that are fall down halarious, but nobody would ever call them comedians... well... maybe Marshall. However, in terms of a comedian first, one name pops to mind hard for me. Dan Finnerty and his band, The Dan Band, have 3 or 4 CDs our right now, and rule. They had a special on Bravo about five years back that I caught one night, and have never let this guy leave my mind since. He is one of the most charasmatic, goofy lead singers ever (he performs in a mechanics jumpsuit with backup singers/dancers in tweed suits...) and every time I've seen him it looks like he's bringing the party to LIFE. You have seen him before too! Remember the movie Old School with William Ferrel, at the wedding, when the greatest version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" you've ever heard came on? Peep it.
The last kind is the straight up comedian who has some talented music friends and a natural ear for music. USUALLY these come across as satire or parody, and for good reason! When you can't sing, you have to find something else to make people listen to what your saying. I USED to consider Steve Martin to be a type like this, but then I realized he's actually like an octouple threat. (Go get his banjo CD that just came out, it's cool). Now, in the past people like Rodney Dangerfield, Gilbert Godfried, and Pauly Shore would do songs that were purposely bad, but very funny, and usually achieved moderate success with them. Currently, however, there is a SHINING example of this style of comedy, and I'm digging the hell out of this guy. Right before he hosted the MTV Movie Awards, Andy Samburg and his musically talented posse' did a little video called "I'm on a Boat". I almost can't believe I'm posting this vid, because everyones seen it, but I'm giving the intertube slackers out there the benifit of the doubt. Aaaand Saturday Night Live doesn't like people embedding their shit, so here's a link - I'm on a Boat!
So, yeah, most musical comedians suck. Shit, even Dr. Cox was hating on Flight of the Choncords, and I LOVED their first CD. But there are a few notable ones out there, and I think this seems to be WHY the ones who are good ARE good! Let me know with any feedback if you agree, disagree, or want to buy me a drink sometime!
Fuck it, one more Lynch before I hit the road... I love this guy...