Unearthing the Metal Underground: Metal In Comedy
No matter how hard metal tries to separate itself from comedy, the two modes of entertainment are often linked, whether by accident or on purpose. Manowar might feel overwhelmingly macho and barbaric wearing cod pieces and furry boots in promotional pictures, but these visual statements are so over the top that some will find the sentiment absolutely hilarious. The grave nature of black metal can also be construed as humorous, especially the visual aspect. Some may view corpse paint as a morbid, anti-Christian statement, while others perceive the strategy as something reserved for children’s birthday parties.
Still, some bands make no qualms about having a sense of humor. Bands such as S.O.D. and Anthrax may pummel their fans with no-bullshit thrash metal, but always make time for joke songs such as “I’m the Man” and “King at the King.” These groups are musicians first and comedians second, whether their songs or presence was intentionally humorous or not. However, in the past few years comedians have started a new trend.
Trend might not be the correct term, certainly three albums do not constitute a “scene,” but metal labels are starting to sign comedians. Each of the three comedians signed to a metal label—Brian Posehn, Jamieson and Jim Florentine—are connected to metal in some fashion. Jamieson and Florentine join metal journalist Eddie Trunk as hosts of VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show.” Posehn isn’t considered a metal expert like Jamieson and Florentine, but he is an unabashed fan. Jamieson and Posehn include humorous metal songs on both of their respective album. However, they are the opposite of the thrash bands listed above; they are comedians first and metal musicians second.
Brian Posehn was the first comedian to sign to a metal label. In 2006, Relapse Records picked up Posehn’s first album “Live in: Nerd Rage.” Posehn’s first album, at least the stand up portion, was recorded as part of the “Comedians of Comedy” tour and includes a sketch with Bob Odenkirk. Odenkirk and Posehn now each other from the HBO skit comedy show “Mr. Show” and its movie spin off “Run Ronny Run.”
Posehn also recorded a couple of songs. “Mr. Show” produced the joke-metal band Titanica whose performance of “Try Again” appears on the said album. Posehn also performs in Posehn, which features Scott Ian [Anthrax], Joey Vera [Armored Saint], John Tempesta [White, The Cult] and Brian himself on vocals. His solo-dubbed group performs a track called “Metal By Numbers,” which rips on metal stereotypes. His 2010 Relapse release “Fart and Weiner Jokes” includes more social commentary about the metal community. “More Metal Than You” is about how metal head often turn being a fan into a competition. Additionally, Brian Posehn is an actor and writer who has appeared in front of the camera on “The Devil’s Rejects,” “The Sarah Silverman Show” and “Seinfeld.”
Don Jamieson is responsible for Metal Blade’s first ever comedy CD when the prestigious label dropped “Live and Hilarious” in 2011. Jamieson is no stranger to recordings, though. He and his “That Metal Show” co-hort, Jim Florentine, appeared on a series of recordings called “Terrorizing Telemarketers,” which consisted of prank calls to…you guessed it, telemarketers. Jamieson’s comedy on “Live and Hilarious” is as extreme as his musical tastes. Often arguing the validity of death metal with Eddie Trunk, Jamieson even did a “Where Are They Now” bit about Celtic Frost. He pulls no punches on his CD, bombarding his audience with a load of sex jokes and politically incorrect humor. “Live and Hilarious” ends with two death-metal acoustic tracks “Rape Your Face” and “Die Pig Die.” If Bill Cosby is the riskiest comedy you can handle, Don Jamieson is probably not for you.
Following the foot steps of his “That Metal Show” co-host, Jim Florentine released “Cringe’n’Purge” a few months after “Live and Hilarious” via the same record label. Florentin has made a long career in comedy. Many were exposed, unknowing; to Florentine’s comedy while watching Comedy Central’s “Crank Yankers.” Florentine provided the voice of helmeted, yay-happy Special Ed. Florentine has become a fixture in the metal community since joining “That Metal Show.” Readers may recognize his name from the Jagermeister-sponsored Slayer, Megadeth and Anthrax tour of 2010. Then again, they may not. Florentine discusses his difficulties opening for Slayer on the track “Opening for Slayer.” Florentine holds nothing sacred; he riffs on genital stereotypes, pedophile priests and the ever-changing world of technology. Jim Florentine’s comedy isn’t Disney-friendly…
Do you know of some more comedians, perhaps in local circuits, who use heavy metal in their routines? Let us know in the comments below.
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