Four Cautionary Tales for Setting Stand-Up to Music

Filed Under Records, Stand-Up Comedy

MTV launched a massive Hulu-style music video website earlier this week and it’s pretty great if you’d like to go study that 80s-90s art form (not so much now, right?). But with my interest in the funny, I had to go through and see what comedians are on there. Setting punchlines to music is real dangerous. Watching these will make you appreciate Zach Galifianakis and Demetri Martin all the more. This will probably be the most painful post ever to view in its entirety.

Sam Kinison’s “Wild Thing”
I suppose this one is debatable, but to me this was the biggest sign that Kinison was starting to diverge from the shock and surprise of his screaming to making it all about the screaming and the revenge that went in tandem with it. There’ are no setups in this, just the punches.

Rodney Dangerfield’s “Rappin’ Rodney”
I’ve always throught of Rodney Dangerfield as kind of a transitional comic - one who clearly had borscht belt influences, but who took that rapid-fire gag machine and combined it with the persona driven act of today. It never felt creaky. Except right here, when Rodney one-liners are meant to be a rap.

Jeff Foxworthy’s “Party All Night”
Even when this was made in the early 90s, I don’t think anybody had thought of Foxworthy as a comic with much to say about single life. Wow, look, punks dancing to country music! That’s crazy! Hard to believe it was directed by Weird Al.

Hey, isn’t that Todd Glass as a cop at the end?

Howie Mandel’s “Watusi”
I had never seen this one before, but good Christ is it horrific. It fits his trademark prop-tastic nonsense style, but the non-sequiturs lose even the semblance of charm when set to music. I tried to watch a second time to give a more detailed thoughts, but I just can’t get through it.

Funny thing: Chris Rock also had a video on the new MTV site (and not for “No Sex in the Champagne Room”) but when I went looking for it to write the post, it was gone. Definitely a sign he’s got good management.

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