Friday, March 11, 2011

The comedians of music

Posted by Andrew

Michael Showalter plays Schubas March 14th
The intersection of music and comedy seems to continually be adding lanes in the independent world. Sure, the likes of Weird Al or the Rutles existed long before Stephen Lynch or Demetri Martin, but there is more and more of an overlap between the two mediums. In an interview last year with Pitchfork, David Cross pointed out the connection as well:

There's quite an overlap between musicians-- especially drummers-- who have an affection and a proclivity towards comedy and comedians who fantasize about being in a band. And a lot of comics play instruments: Zach [Galifianakis] plays piano, Demetri Martin and Sarah Silverman play guitar. The two worlds have more similarities than they do difference.

(While on the subject of David Cross, if you’ve never read his satirical attempt at Pitchfork reviews, you probably should)

More recently, former Sleater-Kinney frontwoman has teamed up with Fred Armisen to create one of the funniest and highly self-reflexive comedies in recent memory, IFC’s "Portlandia." Music videos have often been away to promote humor (a recent example by the New Pornographers) and I notice more and more on my twitter feed about musicians collabing with comedians.

And really, this crossroads does make more sense than it may initially seem. A stereotype of musicians is that they fall into the trap of artistry, the starving musician motif, that life is not more than a pit of despair, and it is through their music they are able to gather the strength to make it through one more day, even if no one else is listening. Likewise, a comedian can be outcasted as the clown, the jester, the insensitively emotionless robot (I mean, how can people laugh at 9/11 jokes, let alone create them?). So when these worlds collide, the individuals in each get to reap the benefits of both. The comedian can make the social and emotional connect his or her self-depraving spiels normally inhibit, whereas the musician can prove they aren’t entirely self-involved and can have a laugh themselves.   

Coming up n Chicago are two comedic opportunities to take advantage of that I feel are appropriate to promote on what is generally a music blog. First up is Michael Showalter bringing his brand of absurdist humor to Schubas on Monday, March 14th (first show sold out, late show added, 21+). If you haven’t gotten down with "The State," "Wet Hot American Summer," or "Stella," definitely get on it. Be forewarned that this left-field comedy may not be for all of you "Two and Half Men" fans out there. Next up is Patton Oswalt with a 3:30 p.m. showing on March 18th at Reckless Records in Wicker Park. He’ll be reading from his new book Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, as well as doing a signing. As this is a free event, you’ll probably wanna get there early.

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