Metal: So music and comedy walk into a bar…

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Metal: So music and comedy walk into a bar…


One is the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, which is pretty much inescapable every April. The other is a show that happened in LA on April 3, hosted and curated by comedian Dean Delray. Delray’s event was a comedy and rock show in tribute to Bon Scott, kicking off with standup sets by Delray, Marc Maron, Joey Diaz and Bill Burr (all of whom are huge music nuts – you should hear Delray and Diaz talking Sabbath some time). Following that, an all-star band played AC/DC’s Powerage album in full, with players including Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx, Anthrax’s Scott Ian, Greg Dulli of Afghan Whigs, Billy Rowe of Jetboy, Rudy Sarzo of Ozzy Osbourne’s band, Whitesnake’s Michael Devin, Velvet Revolver’s Dave Kushner, The Black Crowes’ Steve Gorman and more (including Maron and Burr, plus Delray on vocals). Videos from this show are all over the rock/metal media and shared all through the comedy scene. And it really emphasises the synergy between heavy music and risqué comedy.

This isn’t the first time this link has been a thing. Back in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, “rock’n’roll comedian” was a term thrown around for comics like Sam Kinison and Andrew Dice Clay (Dice’s sons have a kickass heavy rock band called Still Rebel, by the way, and Dice sometimes does comedy-and-rock shows with his boys and some guest comedians). But with the current comedy boom where comedy venues are selling out every night and every comedian has a podcast, it feels like the scene has really expanded lately.

Take Delray for example. His podcast Let There Be Talk is probably 75% music guests. Dean used to make his living touring in bands and as a solo artist before he went into comedy, and the dude knows everyone. He’s scored some serious A-listers on his podcast, as well as unearthing some folks who we don’t hear from so much anymore but have interesting stories to tell. Maron has done some of the absolute best music interviews I’ve ever heard, with the likes of Keith Richards and Metallica’s James Hetfield. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Jim Breuer is a huge metal fan, and we featured him in Beat a few years ago when he did his own metal-themed Comedy Festival show. Moon Zappa and her partner in crime Rainn Phoenix have a great podcast called Launch Left which has plenty of musician interviews and lots of laughs. Brian Posehn has his buddies, including Scott Ian, play on his comedy albums. Don Jamieson’s latest record opens with some riffs from Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine.

And humour has always been a big part of Australian heavy music. We have a lot of acts who aren’t joke bands but who have a certain quirky take on life which filters into their performances: Twelve Foot Ninja and Blood Duster are great examples of this. Of course on the more mainstream side of Australian music and comedy we have shows like RocKwiz bringing the two together, but I can’t help but think Australia has a lot more potential for the kind of comedy/rock synthesis that we’re seeing in the USA. Couldn’t you just imagine Cherry Bar hosting a comedy and metal night with an all-star Sabbath tribute or something?