WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT COMEDY METAL????
I love music, but I am first and foremost a fan of comedy. If you were to spy on my iPod, you’d see that I spend 90% of my time listening to Joe Rogan and Adam Carolla’s podcasts. Music is cool and all, but you can only hear so much before the novelty wears off and you just want to hear an insecure nerd droning on and on about airport security, his nagging wife, or whatever comedians talk about these days.
With that in mind, I am a huge fan of bands who combine both worlds: COMEDY METAL, although the subgenre is (to say the least) a mixed bag. Bands like Gwar, Ugly Kid Joe, and Shat are geniuses, while others deliver, uh, less than satisfactory results.
In this post, we will attempt to answer this question: Lots of bands try to be funny, but which ones succeed, and which ones suck eggs???
This band is most known for featuring Jeff Wood, original bassist for Dillinger Escape Plan (back when they were cool, before they got all artsy-fartsy and stopped hitting people in the face with their guitars and he got hit by a car). But whatever, Shat is better than anything DEP ever did: imagine if Anal Cunt were actually good at something other than funny song titles. Whether it’s “I Threw Up On Her Cunt,” “Early Morning Hard-On,” or my personal favorite “Shit On Her Tits,” you really can’t go wrong!
They might not be the very first comedy metal band, but in my opinion they are hands down the best. What makes Gwar great is that don’t sacrifice music for comedy, or vice versa. I still remember hearing “Scumdogs” for the first time, on the front porch of my friend Alex’s house in 1990. It was awesome because not only was it a sick thrash record, but it also blew my mind with references to things like NWA and skinheads that were definitely next-level shit for a metal band to be dropping at that time.
On the other hand, there’s Scatterbrain, who basically represent the flipside of that coin: everything that could possibly go wrong with comedy metal. It’s sad, because they seem like nice guys, and they could definitely play their instruments, but they were essentially like your extroverted, loud, yet extremely unfunny uncle who you avoided at the annual family Thanksgiving dinner. They assault you with one dreadful, annoying “joke” after another, and no matter how much you politely laugh, they just won’t stop. It’s hard to decide what’s worse: their hacky, painfully bad lyrics, or horrible, semi-ironic-but-not-really funk metal.
I feel bad for even bringing this band up, because they are such a bummer, but I would be dropping the ball if I didn’t. You can read a much more length post I wrote about these guys a couple years ago, but the main idea here is that this pretty much represents the bottom of the worst case scenario for comedy metal: fat guys from New Jersey in novelty headwear playing songs that are only interesting/funny the first time you hear them.
Is it just me or is something lost in the translation: “El se mudo a Hollywood para convertirse en estrella”
If you are over 28 or so, you might remember when this song was something close to a hit, if we define hit as “played a fair amount on Beavis & Butthead and popular with kids who wore Starter Jackets, smoked Camel Lights, and dropped out of school/took a lot of metal shop classes. Even so, is it bad that I kind of like this song??? :(
EXODUS “Cajun Hell”
While some bands pursued straight-up comedy, others who were too scared to go all-out just did one-off joke songs, usually the last song on the tape so you could fast-forward past it if you want. They might have been better off taking a chisel to the masters and gouging out the portion that is this track, because the sooner they erase any permanent records of this shameful song, the better. I’m thinking the recording session went a little like this:
Guy 1: “Hey guys, let’s make something even cheesier than ‘Toxic Waltz.’”
Guy 2: “That’s crazy talk, how could we ever do a song that would be more dated, ridiculous, and corny than that one?!”
Guy 1: “Introducing… ‘Cajun Hell’!”
It’s really not even right (or fair) to put them on this list, but I included them because people think of them as a comedy metal band. IMO that doesn’t do them justice, though: the truth is that they are actually just a straight-up hair metal band who has to pretend to be a comedy metal band, because that’s the only way you can play this style in 2011 (see also Blessed By A Broken Heart). Either way, any band that features ex-members of Fight is A+++ in my book! I still remember the interview in Guitar World or whatever where he talked about how he put a towel over his cab to get the sick thrash tone on “War Of Words”… #90s
SACRED REICH “31 Flavors”
If you think Winter, 13, or Grief are the kings of bleak, depressing metal, you are wrong. If you need to get in the mood to slit your wrists, put this song on and imagine how it feels to be one of the guys from Sacred Reich listening to this in 2011.
ANTHRAX “I’m The Man”
I hadn’t listened to this song in about 10 years, and I remembered it as being a little on the silly side, and obviously not a legit rap song, but not too bad for what it is. Wowowowowow was I wrong- this should be filed under “even worse than Leeway ‘Kingpin’” and “exhibit D in the trial against the white race.” It’s sort of like when you sat next to the mildly retarded kid in 6th grade and he shit his pants in front of everybody: you feel so bad for how bad they’re embarrassing themselves that you just want to hide under a rock and pretend it never happened.
Even more cringeworthy than this? When they used the NYHC logo. Oof.
UGLY KID JOE
History may not look on this band so kindly, but IDGAF, I think they were pretty sweet! I am totally aware that many readers may not share my opinion, but I thought UKJ stood on their own musically, and their lyrics were just a bonus. And if you don’t think the lyrics to songs like “Whiplash Liquor” were funny on their own, you can always laugh at the brief period where Whitfield Crane tried to sing for Life Of Agony.
When I was in high school, my friend Justin and I always used to joke about starting a “pot-metal” band called Grim Reefer. Apparently these guys had the same idea, only they have been riding the joke for five years instead of five minutes. Like Slayer and Morbid Angel, they would have been been better off putting out a single, hilarious 7″ rather than album after album of dull filler. On the other hand, maybe the punchline is that they keep beating the joke to death (ala David Letterman)??? Who knows, but I’m saying the novelty wore off half a decade ago.
BRIAN POSEHN “Metal By The Numbers”
Much like sketch comedy, the key to a successful comedy metal song is building on a lulzy observation. For example, Monty Python is not funny, because it’s just a bunch of stupid non-sequitors like “Monkeys! Cheese!,” which is the same reason why “zany” bands like Butthole Surfers or The Dead Milkmen are only funny to 12 year-olds. On the other hand, this song is fucking hilarious because everything in it is 100% truth (my favorite being “Here comes the gay part, with melody”). The punchline? He got a bunch of washed-up fossils like Scott Ian to be in the band, only they didn’t know it was just for a joke. Trololololol!
What is the best COMEDY METAL band?? U mad that I didn’t include Spinal Tap???? Are “Speak English Or Die,” “USA For MOD,” and Carnivore “Retaliation” comedy albums, or just ignorant in a lulzy/awesome way? What about INFECTIOUS GROOVES????
Sergeant D. makes lulzy observations every day at Stuff You Will Hate.