Following on from last weeks 80’s synth TV themes, here’s another irreverent Sunday post for you. Don’t get used to it though there isn’t that many electronic music/other stuff crossovers in the world.
Today we are looking at a niche that combines two of my three favourite things. Electronic music, and comedy. I’m going with ElectroCom. You can keep that!
The traditions of Comedy and Music have been intertwined for as long as they have existed, but it’s rare for someone to do something genuinely funny with synth music. And I don’t mean ‘just taking the piss out of the 80’s’, everyone featured here obviously has a great love for the music they are satirising.
So, lets kick things off with Flight Of The Conchords. You know who Flight Of The Conchords are, and if you don’t go and find out. They are very funny and very musically talented. This globe-trotting duo are from New Zealand, where they started their act, then moved to BBC Radio in the UK and ended up on HBO in the US. They pastiche a few styles of music, everything from Gangster Rap to Folk but have been quite spot-on with their ElectroPop tracks. ‘Inner City Pressure’ and ‘Fashion Is Danger’ are note perfect tributes to their subjects. I have also included ‘Robots’, ‘cos it’s funny and quite cute Indie-Electro and The Conchords getting funky with ‘Mutha’uckas’ and ‘Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor’.
Flight Of The Conchords – Inner City Pressure
Flight Of The Conchords – Fashion Is Danger
Flight Of The Conchords – Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor
Flight Of The Conchords – Mutha’uckas
The Mighty Boosh. Very Surreal. Very British with a deep love of Electro. Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding are both accomplished comedians and comedy actors in their own right but together they are pretty unstoppable. You either ‘get’ The Boosh or you don’t. Clearly influenced by Monty Python and The Young Ones, The Mighty Boosh pepper their anarchic show with some of the catchiest songs in comedy. ‘Electro Boy’ (featuring Robots In Disguise as the band) and ‘Future Sailors’ are pure post-ElectroClash nonsense with ‘C Funk’ is, unsurprisingly, The Boosh’s take on P Funk (watch the whole episode if you’re confused).
The Mighty Boosh – Electro Boy
The Mighty Boosh – Future Sailors
The Mighty Boosh – C Funk
Now we come to Gary Le Strange. Gary Le Strange was a New Romantic face warrior created by comedian Waen Shepherd (who can name Cyderdelic, the surreal PlayStation 2 “Third Place” ads and The Inbetweeners amongst his credits) who I first saw live in 2003 when I was running an ElectroPop club and some comedy promoters came in and gave us free tickets in exchanger for being able to flyer our night. Gary Le Strange was a character out of time, his show was split between New Romantic manifesto, ridiculous tales of the 80’s and SynthPop songs. Really good songs too, Wean obviously had great love, and great knowledge for his target. The first two comedy tours and their albums ‘Face Academy’ and ‘Polaroid Suitcase’ were spot-on satires of both the 80’s and electronic music. By the time the third album ‘Beef Scarecrow’ came out both the music and the funny was waning a bit, but this was the time when Gary made the transition to TV. A transition I feel was too late, despite being directed by the awesome Stewart Lee, the video’s didn’t seem to capture the original shows laughs. The songs are still funny…and good, though!
Gary Le Strange – Is My Toaster Sentient?
Gary Le Strange – Grey
Gary Le Strange – Seedy Pimp
All of SNL staples The Lonely Island’s video are well worth watching, featuring a host of celebrities, but their 80’s teen movie pastiche ‘Boombox’ is particularly apt.
The Lonely Island (Feat. Julian Casablancas Of The Strokes) – Boombox
The Lonely Island – Jizz In My Pants
Big Train was, after Asylum, the breeding ground for some of the UKs best comedy talent, most obviously in the form of Simon Pegg, Mark Heap and Kevin Eldon. This sketch about Keith Emerson’s synth collection always makes me chuckle.
Big Train – Keith Emerson
The Mary Whitehouse Experience was probably the coolest comedy show in the UK in the early 90’s and started the trend of the comedian as rock star. If you know Utah Saints and you know MTV Unplugged and you know the early 90’s this should make you chuckle.
The Mary Whitehouse Experience – Utah Saints Unplugged
OK, running out of idea now, the obvious SynthPop/comedy connection to go for is Pet Shop Boys’ involvement in Absolutely Fabulous. Here’s the video.
Pet Shop Boys – Absolutely Fabulous
Right, more Sunday post crowdsourcing action! I’d be interested to hear of any suggestions you might have for electronic music/comedy crossovers. particularly from Americans. Being English most of my Pop Cultural references are there, is there any classic US TV that mock the synth? Let me know!
Wherever you’re from, I want to know about electronic music comedy sketches worldwide!
Hit me up on Twitter, @electronicrumor, and if I include your suggestion you’ll get a shiny credit!