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Musical Comedy: Weird Al in the 1980s

wardmcThis post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

While I focus on Weird Al’s career in the 2000s as part of Week 2, it is also important to acknowledge his career in the 1980s. During this decade, MTV and emerging music video formats drastically changed popular music and cultural (what Ellis (2008) describes as postmodern [see Week 4]). These new (and often ridiculous) conventions were quickly parodied by Weird Al. Here’s “Like a Surgeon” (1985), his take on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” (1984).

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Musical Comedy: The Archies

This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

The Archies was a fictional band comprised of comic book/TV show characters. Their hit song “Sugar, Sugar” was the #1 song in the U.S. in 1969 (a year that also produced this, this, and this – although those were all from UK artists). Here’s the video (complete with original animation):

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Musical Comedy: Vaudeville

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This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

Vaudeville was a multifaceted genre of theatrical performance which served as the primary form of American popular culture through most of the 19th century. According to Donald Travis Stewart (who performs and writes under the name Trav S.D.), this form did not truly die, but continued to be a part of U.S. pop culture:

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Musical Comedy: Flight of the Conchords

fotc

This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

Flight of the Conchords is a comedy duo (comprised of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement) based out of New Zealand and best-known for their HBO TV series of the same name.  In the show’s two seasons, their songs were interwoven into the plotlines. Their songs tended to be either self-deprecating or poking gentle fun at specific styles of music.

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Musical Comedy: Reggie Watts

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This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

Reggie Watts is a multifaceted performer who uses elements of comedy, music, and theatrics in his work. His musical style incorporates improvisation and looped recording material. He is currently featured on the TV show Comedy Bang Bang  on IFC.

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Musical Comedy: The Bad Plus

bad+This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

The Bad Plus is a contemporary jazz trio (piano, bass, and drums) who are known for blending modern jazz style/virtuosity with ironic covers of popular songs. These include “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (2003) [originally by Nirvana (1991)] and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (2007) [originally by Tears for Fears (1985)]. Garrett [see Quote Library and Week 8] describes the humor of the group in relationship to jazz humor of the past:

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Musical Comedy: The Muppet Show

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This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”

While The Muppets continue to be a cultural institution, The Muppet Show (which debuted in the 1970s), included a great deal of musical humor as part of its variety show format. While intended for children, the show (and its numerous iterations in pop culture since) has provided classic, timeless comedy that appeals to all ages.

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