Doing the Yuk’s Pro-Am night and I have some new material to try out, but the best laid plans of comics can be changed at the last minute. Before I go onstage I’m sitting watching the audience and trying to gauge if the audience is laughing enough or not, so I’m deciding my material before I even go onstage. For tonight as I sit and watch the other acts go up I think to myself that I need to play something at the start before I play the new material, so I throw in the parody of songs aging before I play one of the two new bits I have, one of which is an adaption of a bit I’ve already written which is a parody of songs made into commercials because I know some artists wouldn’t sell out their material for money so I thought it was funny to create a parody of three songs and how they’d be made into jingles. So one day about a month ago I started singing a parody to myself of the Song “Dr. Feelgood” I changed to be a jingle for a dentist “Dr. Feldman” and that made me think “what about those bands who absolutely would sell their songs for a ton of money to be used in an ad?” and that led me to think about who else would do that, and I came up with Kiss and I changed Rock and Roll All Nite to a commercial for Hagen Daz.
Now the thing about changing my set timing by adding that parody at the start meant that when I finished my first song and then did the parody of the commercials with the new Kiss parody, that meant that I’d gone up to my time limit and I had to stop there, so the other new bit I’d created about Canadian Mondegreens had to be dropped, and that was half the reason I was here tonight. So I’ll have to try it out again another night.
The other thing about writing parodies of songs is that some songs are hard to reproduce during live performances. Whenever I sit down to learn a song I have to learn little aspects of how they’re played to try and sound exactly like the recording because they’re more recognizable that way, lucky for me there are many videos on YouTube that will teach me how to do that, but there can be problems for reproducing songs for the stage; first of all, some bands like to tune their guitars differently to make a different sound. Most famous example of that is Black Sabbath, who tuned their guitars to a different level due to the injury to guitarist Toni Iommi’s fingers, which had his fingertips on his right hand cut off in an accident at work so he wears little leather caps on the tips to allow him to play, but he had the strings tuned lower so that they’d be easier for him to play, which also gives them their trademark sound. For me though, it makes it tougher to play because I’d have to stop in the middle of performing to retune the guitar for one parody, two at most and that’s a waste of time. If I was headlining and had tons of time to play and also a lot more money I could do what professional rock stars do. Have you ever been to a concert and watched a band play and then at one point a guitar player will hand his guitar over to a roadie and get a different guitar to play? Sometimes it just allows the roadie to ensure the first guitar is tuned back in order while the guitarist plays a fresh guitar, but sometimes its because the next song is tuned differently so they have the new guitar tuned and ready to play to keep the show moving along. When I can afford to be that big maybe I’ll do more parodies that way but for now I’m still one man and one man’s guitar.
Another problem is how complicated a song is to play and how easy I can sing along with it. The Dr. Feelgood parody I mentioned above is easy to sing, but try playing that riff and sing at the same time and it will take me a long time to practise for what is probably a 30 second joke. And they also retuned their guitars for that song, most likely a “Dropped D” tuning which is apparently used a lot by metal bands.
Lastly some bands will play something that is played by two guitarists at the same time so playing it with just one sounds close, but something is missing. Case in point is the ending to “Hotel California” by the Eagles, I tried so hard to play the solo at the end of that song in my 20’s only to find out years later that it never sounded right because there were two guitars playing at the same time, with different notes harmonized together. Now, saying that there was a story about some guitar player who didn’t know that, so he sat and figured out how to play the song with both notes at the same time, that’s damn impressive but for someone seriously playing the song that’s great, but for me just doing it as a joke? That’s waaaaaay too much work.
I’ll have to wait until I’m back to try out the new material I didn’t get to try tonight. I hope to get it ready before Bainfest at the end of July.