Comedy acts that friggin' rock...literally

Tenacious D, Flight of the Conchords and more

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords

WOULD A PHALLUC JOKE BE TOO INAPPROPRIATE? Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, members of the musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, strike a pose before a phallus-like Empire State Building. It's just one of the bands on our list of musical comedy acts worth listening to.

Comedians like Jack Black and Jimmy Fallon know what it takes to make people laugh. Hand them a guitar and the result is even better than amateur night at Yuk Yuk’s.

Since music and laughter are often the best human pleasures, it only makes sense to put the two together. Comedy and parody bands are often dismissed by music aficionados, but they put in just as much time into composition as their brooding singer/songwriter counterparts.

When done right, the result is an ingenious concoction of wit and aurally pleasing sounds from the guitbox. So replace your Death Cab for Cutie tears with Flight of the Conchords laughs with this week’s soundtrack:

Demetri Martin: “The Jokes with Guitar”
Demetri Martin’s quirky observational jokes spoken over his guitar strums easily make him one of the most imaginative comedic musicians. As a former writer for Late Night with Conan O’Brien and correspondent for The Daily Show, Martin’s comedy is versatile.

“The Jokes with Guitar,” from his 2006 comedy album These Are Jokes, is a 13-minute song with continuous quips about random topics. The jokes are corny, but it is Martin’s erudite delivery that sets off the laughtrack or at least the odd satisfying chuckle.

Flight of the Conchords: “Jenny”
The self-described “formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo” combines witty narrations and acoustic guitar, making Flight of the Conchords one of the more successful comedy bands. With a Grammy Award under their belt and an HBO television series, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are the best things from New Zealand since bungee jumping.

“Jenny” is an awkward (musical) conversation between a man trying to remember a past relationship and a woman insisting he knows her. Aside from the song’s clever acoustic folk parody, the duo’s chemistry is charming. Check out “Hiphopopotamus vs. the Rhymenocerous” and “Albi the Racist Dragon” for more ridiculousness.

Tenacious D: “Tribute”
No matter how absurd or profane, Tenacious D will remain the “Greatest Band on Earth.” Well, at least to its members, Jack Black and Kyle Glass. With Black’s theatric interpretations of cock rockers and Glass’ impressive acoustic guitar skills, Tenacious D has been having too much fun mocking clichéd rock bands.

The first single off the band’s 2002 self-titled debut album Tribute actually sounds like a legit metal rock jam, save for the lyrics about demonic encounters and devoured souls.

Jimmy Fallon: Troll Doll Jingles
Those who know Jimmy Fallon from Saturday Night Live will immediately recognize his charming comedic idiosyncrasies. You can almost see Fallon’s boyish shrugs and jittery gestures translate through the album.

In “Troll Doll Jingles,” Fallon infuses troll-related lyrics into the tune of different songs, including “4 Non Blondes’” “What’s Up,” George Michael’s “Faith” and the Counting Crows’ “Mr. Jones.” He has the impressions down, making each snippet of the song hilarious.

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