Image source, Steve Ullathorne
All good comedy has a rhythm.
From the surreal flights of Eddie Izzard to a rhythmic episode of Friends, there is a tempo and a structure which lets you know when the punchline is coming, and when the audience is going to laugh.
Many authors compare creating a joke to writing a melody: when the words come in in the right place, it seems right.
So if comedy is like music, why are funny songs so hard to understand?
Part of it because the rhyme scheme can reveal the punchline too early, which undermines its effectiveness. And also because the structure of pop music is based on repetition. No one wants to hear the same joke three times in two minutes.
These are kinds of revelations comedian Phil Nichol made as he recorded his new podcast, Songs In The Key of Laugh.
"I haven't really studied comedy songs before, I was just a fan of them - but I started to realize that 'They have to be unpredictable to work, "he says.
"You have to break that verse-chorus structure, because you don't want the audience to know where the song is going.
Nichol made his debut as a comedian musical, with the Canadian trio Corky and the Juice Pigs.
In the late 1990s, they became a cult band with songs like Dolphin Boy, French Cowboys and Todd! on Mad TV and the backers of Dudley Moore and Steven Spielberg.
Now a successful stand-up and full-fledged West End star, Nichol realized during the lockdown that the podcast market increasingly saturated still had no show exploring the world of comedy songs.
He pitched the idea to his neighbor, studio musician David Timms, during one of theselong walks - and by the time they were heading home, a plan had been worked out. Notably because Timms had cleverly manipulated Nichol into working with him.
"It was a cold, rainy, muddy day, and David fell and it made me feel so bad. laughter that in the end I thought, 'I'd better do something with this guy. '
The first episode premiered last week, with the duo dissecting their own music, while interviewing a comedy from songwriters like Tim Minchin, The Mighty Boosh, Barenaked Ladies and Jess Robinson.
So what is it about Favorite Comedic Songs Nichol's of all time? Uh, he doesn't know. "It 's impossible," he yells. But here are six that have tickled his imagination this week.
Disclaimer: Some of the following songs contain lyrics that people may find offensive.
1) Bo Burnham: Welcome to the Internet Caption
Taken from Bo Burnham 's dark but hilarious lockdown comedy show Inside, Welcome To The Internet portrays toxic addiction internet - and his promise to "a little bit of everything all the time ".
"Bo Burnham writes some great songs, and this song in particular sums up what a lot of usfeel about the internet.
"This is really political and it is really loaded with the question of what the internet is doing to us? And are we becoming insensitive to these images? Is it healthy? But I think that he does it in the funniest and most wonderful way.
"Inside was just ridiculously good. I watched it two nights in a row and that was one of those times when I was like, "You might as well give up because he's relative genius." "
2) Monty Python: Sit on my face Caption
Happily smutty, The Pythons' ode to oral sex appeared on their 1980 contract bond album, and opened their 1982 Film Monty Python At The Hollywood Bowl. Sung to the tune of Gracie Fields 'Sing As We Go, he also fined an American radio station $ 9,000 (£ 6,620) forr blasphemy in 1992.
"I was brought up in a deeply born again Christian family, in something called the Assembly of the Brothers. At one point they thought the buttons were bad - because the buttons come off easier, and that leads to standing sex.
"So we were not allowed to listen to secular music, nor to watch secular music movies or TV shows when I was growing up. But my brother Andrew, who is about six years older than me, had a pumped up Ford Capri with a tape recorder. We would sit in this car and listen to music: Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles then he discovered Monty Python.
"I was around 10 or 11, and it was the nastiest thing in the world. I don't even think I knew what it really meant to sit on my face - but I loved the relative silliness of it. To this day, I cannot listen to this song without laughing. "
3) Billy Connolly: The Welly Starter Song Caption
Written by poet George McEwan while working in a lemonade factory, The Welly Boot Song became the theme of Billy Connolly song in the early 1970s. 'It is a funny song, the comedian pointed out that the lyrics had a serious point, saying "A big sign of poverty in Glasgow is the rubber boots in the summer.
"Although we were not allowed to listen to secular music, Billy Connolly escaped because my parents are Glasgow.
" The song Welly Boot was something we sang on the way home among hymns and stuff. There is a beautiful innocence, but in fact, it 's also quite political.
"When you take down the lyrics, he talks about the poverty in the world.The working classes and farmers in Scotland. "
4) Flight Of The Conchords: Business Time Caption
Parodying the music of Prince and Barry White's tumescent hymns, Business Time delves into the practical realities of garbage night seduction ...
"I really wanted to choose a more obscure Flight of the Conchords song - but when I went back and listened to Business Time, I was sold. He has so many great gags.
"It's such a nice juxtaposition of that slow, sexy funk music with the completely cheesy lyrics of an average guy in a bedroom situation. I think that's why this 'is so relevant.
"Even though they made fun of a particular type of man, we all felt like we were not quite up to it, in the bedroom department. "
5) Corky and theJuice Pigs: Eskimo Caption
A landmark song from the Nichol 's former comedy troupe, Eskimo has often been wrongly attributed to Jack Black ' s group, Tenacious D. He sets the story straight ...
"J hope you don't mind that I choose one of my own songs - but I think it's one of the really good comedy songs, and it works because she has a belly really tragic.
"We wrote it in a hotel room in Australia, where they were showing a documentary about these Inuit who went out on a seal hunt. Our manager at the time was gay and I remember Greg [Neale, co-author] saying: "Imagine being the only gay Inuit who hunted seals.
"Our comrade group Sean walked in and started singing, 'I'm the only gay Eskimo '. And then we hads played the song all day, inventing more and more rhyming verses. And then we started to make impressions of how other people would sing it - Van Morrison and The Proclaimers. It made us laugh so much.
"The song got really popular when we did it on Mad TV - but it 's in the early days of the internet and a record label. took it out [without our permission] and said it was Tenacious D, because they didn't know who we were.
"Tenacious D is always invited to play it now - so it's gone a long way without our band being really, really popular, and I think that's why I like it. "
6) Ivor Cutler: Hello! How are you? Shut up! Caption
A brilliant flight of lyrical fantasy, Ivor Cutler 's Good Morning is full of vHighly quotable ers like: "Elephants - Oh, I love that great speech!
"Ivor Cutler. Should have been the Poet Laureate. Scottish National Treasure.
"This song is produced by George Martin, who produced The Beatles, and it has the most beautiful and twisted lyrics. She says something profound, but in the most surreal and childish way.
"This is probably my favorite comedy song of the time. It may be. even being one of my all-time favorite songs. I can't help but enjoy it. "
Phil Nichol 'The Songs In The Key Of Laugh podcast is now available.
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