Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Sonic fun

TV comedy songs used to be a bad mixture of obligation (a hangover from the mainstream days of Morecambe & Wise) and afterthought – the producers need 30 minutes so let’s knock off a quick number in a ‘will this do’ fashion. But ‘alternative’ comedy bought with it the possibility of much more intertextualisation, though the comic milieu is itself a fiction that doesn’t mean there can’t be further mises en scene. With that, the comedy song was free to gain greater prominence in the programme’s mix.

Shona McGough (and Band) Monday Morning/Bloodbath, on Knowing Me Knowing You. Typically bad programming on Partridge’s magazine programme - Monday Morning starts off like a saccharine St Etienne before McGough and co reveal themselves to be Hole-like angry femrockers, who ‘gun down 20 in Visionhire’, before the song drowns in indie noise. Partridge starts off cheerily smiling and clapping along to the synthy beat but slowly becomes disgusted then horrified as the performance hits phase 2. To make matters worse, the leftwing Scottish troupe hang around with the other guests for further humiliation…

David Brent
Free Love on the Free Love Freeway, The Office. Brent hijacks the training day to acoustically render his tunes ‘from the band days’ to a mostly nonplussed staff. The song is freewheeling, good times drivel but reveals a lot about those in focus – Tim is a failure because he likes this and would therefore like Ocean Colour Scene; Gareth exults in the simplistic message and, ever eager to please his manager, finds meaning where there was none; while Dawn is delighted simply because this is more freetime in which her life can drift.

‘Nirvana’ Panty Smile, The Day Today. News satire satirises 90s MTV, which in turn goes for Smells Like Teen Spirit, Morris doing a great Cobain pouring out the emotion for product placement. “Once a month, you become a slave, to a tidal wave. Body’s little clock, could mess up your frock…” Just shades out the FurQ gangsta pisstake in the same sequence.

Reeves & Mortimer Don't Slip on Loose Muesli, The Smell. Don’t Slip is sublime cock rock pisstake, while the 50s home maker genderbending of We're a Couple of Girls is a bit special too, containing the tremendous line: "And the Dutch have no concept of rust"… and as they go into character…
Mulligan and O'Hare, despite some of their Celtic musings only being about 30 seconds long and one verse. Favourites are Frustrated by Weeds, Donkey Derby, Hot Dogs for Sale, My Rose has Left Me (Pt 2), Plate Fungus and Rock and Roll. Whiff this link for the lyrics of all the songs from both series.

Hugh Laurie America A Bit of Fry & Laurie. A quick sketch simply done with an emphatic message. Laurie’s Springsteenesque painfully knocks out the chords on his piano forte, while harping on about ‘America’ and ‘the States’ in a moving elegy for the superpower. After 24 bars, in walks Fry, offers a ‘what can you can do’ pose to the audience and punches Springsteen in the stomach. See also the Bishop and the Warlord, as well as Stephen Fry ‘playing’ Michael Jackson, except that he is dressed in his usual Oxbridge garb and is simply trying to dance funky, chamoan!

Nathan Barley Believe the Cleverlution, Nathan Barley. The protagonist’s live tour de force, as Barley, a self-confessed ‘self-facilitating node’, turns his hand to live rapping at his website party, telling it like it is to the hangers-on: “Fuck Enron, it’s fucking wrong”; “Trashbat is like two people leaping out of the WTC towers… fucking on the way down; and the general ‘mondo blando’. In a segueway, Dan Ashcroft, his own worst nightmare, can’t stop himself going on stage to do the preacherman cameo. A brilliant picture of Hoxtonesque in-crowd indulgence. Don’t turn opportunity down, whatever your scruples.

So the comedy song is in a good state at the moment, with shows like The Mighty Boosh harnessing the format with their post-rave confused take on the cosmos to good effect. Check out the scary electrogoth in Nanageddon and the pain of Isolation for Howard on a desert island, while Vince gets off with 'girls' (coconut puppets). As ever, this is far from exhaustive, basically covering the highlights of my UK-centric DVD and videos, so alert us to more…
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