Friday, December 08, 2023

Weekend Listomania: Special "A Good Joke is Worth a Thousand Guitar Riffs" Edition

[I originally posted a version of this in 2008(!), back when the world and this blog were young. I'm reviving it now primarily because given the appalling times in which we currently live, we could all use a hearty laugh. And also because one of today's subjects was just featured in Rob Reiner's wonderful new Albert Brooks documentary, which is available for streaming at various brand name outlets, and is highly recommended. In any case, I've done some rewriting and inserted some new choices, just to prove I'm not the senile slacker you all (justifiably) think I am. You're welcome very much.--S.S.]

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, I don't have a vaguely smutty topical joke, so let's get directly to business:


You know -- the funniest, the silliest, the one that best punctures somebody's pomposity, or however you define it.

Okay, here's my totally top of my head Top Ten:

10. Robbie Fulks -- Fountains of Wayne Hotline

Everything about that is priceless, although my favorite bit is "Oh -- that Gerald." Anyway, I don't know for a fact, but I'd like to think the late Adam Schlesinger thought this was as funny as I do.

9. Albert Brooks -- Party From Outer Space

From Brooks' 1975 A Star is Bought album, which is one of the all-time comedy masterpieces. The track, of course, is a tribute to the Buchanan and Goodman flying saucer break-in records (see below); the gimmick here being that Albert used fake records he himself had written to ensure he got the royalties.

8. Little Roger and the Goosebumps -- Stairway to Gilligan

Led Zep's management got this record banned back in the day, but in 2000 Robert Plant decided it was funny, so it's now on CD.

7. Bob and Doug McKenzie -- Take Off

Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas meet Geddy Lee, and then they all go out for a Molson.

6. Steve Martin -- King Tut

It's rarely said, but nonetheless true -- Steve Martin is a great dancer.

5. Weird Al Yankovic -- Dare to Be Stupid

A Devo parody that's actually better than the real Devo. "Mashed potatoes can be your friend." Indeed.

4. Napoleon XIV -- They're Coming to Take Me Away (Ha-Ha!)

An obvious choice, I know, but hey -- some high school friends of mine can be heard yelling in the background on this one. True story -- buy me a drink sometime, and I'll tell it to you....

3. The Diamonds -- Little Darlin'

These guys were actually a bunch of jazzbo snobs who thought the song (previously a minor doowop hit written by Maurice Williams, of "Stay" fame) was moronic crap and were goofing all over it. It is one of the great ironies of our time that the result is simultaneously one of the most exciting rock records ever AND an outsiders parody of the genre.

2. Buchanan and Goodman -- The Flying Saucer

The original break-in record, and an amazing technological feat in the days before sampling.

And the number one You Gotta Be Kidding comedy record of the rock era is, it's not even close, so don't gimme any crap about this is ---

1. Linda Laurie -- Ambrose (Part 5)

This record haunted my childhood, and at the time I assumed it was a monster national hit. Later, of course, I discovered it was only a local phenom -- I've never run into anybody who remembers it who wasn't also from the Tri-State Metropolitan Area. Perhaps not such a surprise, given Ms. Laurie's vintage New Yawk delivery and the single's subterranean subway milieu.

Oh, and as a special bonus, because I love you all more than food, I'm including here Ms. Laurie's utterly charming 1959 appearance as a contestant on TV's To Tell the Truth. She's really cute, no? And stick around till the end of the clip -- she actually does the Ambrose voice.

Man, that just kills me.

Anyway -- alrighty, then -- what would YOUR choices be?

And have a great weekend, everybody!!!


Anonymous said...

Apropos of the season how about "It's Christmastime (Let's Just Survive)" by Kathleen Edwards.

Dave said...

Tony Scheuren (singer) and Christopher Guest (DJ) with the Neil Young parody "Southern California Brings Me Down" as originally performed on the National Lampoon Radio Hour in early 1974.

mistah charley, sb, ma, phd, jsps said...

1/"Genius is Pain" - supposedly some large fraction of this was actually said by Lennon at some time or other

1/ - a parody of "Desiderata"

You are a freak of the universe - you have no right to be here

it refers to "punched cards" - those were the days

3/Todd Rundgren translated and recorded a Dutch Christmas comedy song - Flappie - about a pet rabbit

Anonymous said...

Neil Innes "Protest Song" is a classic.

Atlanta radio played "Wet Dream" from comedian Kip Adotta a lot growing up:

And this is a pretty good Springsteen parody/tribute from Joe Piscapo:

Finally, didn't National Lampoon have an Art Rock Suite or Medley or something to that effect? Seems like Chris Guest and Paul Shaffer were behind it.

Anonymous said...

Always loved The Three Haircuts from Sid Caesar's show.

Also just discovered The Monks who spun off from the Strawbs and did a "fake new wave/punk" album that was a huge success and sounds pretty good to my ears.

Lastly, Dave Marsh or someone of his ilk rated The Diamonds over the original saying it was just a better record.

And the Diamonds cut Buddy's "Words of Love" just a few months before he was known (his last name was still misspelled on the credits) and it's a great record with a Mickey Baker "Love is Strange" guitar lick thrown in for good measure.*

Bob in IL

*I need a copy of this 45!

Shriner said...

As a long-time Dr. Demento fan, I'm not sure, I can pick just one, but...

The Old Philosopher -- Eddie Laurence
Happy Boy -- The Beat Farmers
Sensitive New Age Guys -- Christine Lavin
Pencil Neck Geek -- Fred Blassie
Dead Puppies -- Odgen Edsel
I Want My Baby Back -- Jimmy Cross
Junk Food Junkie -- Larry Groce
Opening Band and Count To Ten -- Paul & Storm
Existential Blues -- Tom "T-Bone" Stankus

steve simels said...

Ooh… I’d forgotten the Christine Lavin…😎

Haik Mendelovich said...

More parody Devo, also better than the source via its scathing lyrics, plus the addition of a certain TV theme tribute.

getawaygoober said...

National Lampoon - I'm a Woman (Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Christopher Guest)

cthulhu said...

The entire soundtrack to the Rutles’ All You Need Is Cash.
And if I were in a band, I’d insist we do the Thamesmen’s Gimme Some Money.
Joe Walsh’s I.L.B.T. qualifies, as does the Fugs’ Boobs A Lot.

And second for Christine Lavin’s Sensitive New Age Guys.

getawaygoober said...

From the old MTV days...
Julie Brown - I Like Em Big & Stupid

ChrisE said...

Negativeland - U2

Mojo Nixon - Don Henley Must Die (I actually like the Eagles and Henley, but the song is funny, and apparently Henley thought so, too - one night at a club in Austin Tx in the early 90s, he climbed onstage and sang the song WITH Nixon.)

M_Sharp said...

"Transfusion" - Nervous Norvus

"Pass the crimson to me Jimson" was changed by Tom Waits to "Slip me a little crimson Jimson" in the intro on his "Nighthawks At The Diner album.

Anonymous said...

Richard Thompson had a short run of topical songs in the 90's that were very funny:
Dear Janet Jackson (the Super Bowl clothing failure)
I Agree With Pat Metheny (Kenny G's talent)
Madonna's Wedding

Both Dear JJ and Madonna's Wedding can be found on the box set, RT- The Life and Music of Richard Thompson

- Paul in DK