So many people are frightened by clowns that there is a name for the phobia. What with their scary white make up, over-size shoes and comedy songs, there should also be a word for a fear of the band Kiss.
Rock n roll and comedy has an uneasy relationship, especially by those musicians who want to be taken seriously. Comedians are very good at pricking the bubble of pomposity that some musicians hold, with Spinal Tap being the pinnacle of how satire can affectionately poke fun at such pretensions.
Val Kilmer’s turn as quasi Elvis figure “Nick Rivers” in “Top Secret” also memorably satirised both Elvis films and the fakery of PJ Proby (who’d based his own act on James Brown) as he found increasingly daft ways to try to take his life onstage (putting his head in an oven, then a noose, then laying on top of railway tracks) in front of an increasingly hysterical female audience only to be rescued by his backing singers.
But what about when the rockers join in with the comedy?
In the US, Saturday Night Live has long encouraged participation from stars – Wayne’s World and Madonna immediately springs to mind.
And in the UK?
Well, there have been a few decent sketches over the years that I can recall, so I thought I would come up with a top five, and hopefully lay down the gauntlet for you to come up with your own favourites.
The first is an Alas Smith and Jones sketch featuring Brian May, where Mel Smith tells Griff he met Brian May in the studio (“I didn’t realise he was a painter?” says Griff sarcastically) and invites him round for drinks whereupon his friends epically fail to act cool around the star.
The next one is from perhaps my favourite comedy show of the eighties, Who Dares Wins.
Featuring a young Tony Robinson and Jimmy Mulville, this has a great cameo from John Peel, as police investigate the cassettes in Robinson’s car and call him out on his musical tastes. It certainly brings a new meaning to the phrase “Criminal Record”. Interesting to see how musical fashions have changed over the years. It’s a great sketch…
Then there’s this brilliant French and Saunders sketch featuring Lemmy, Mark King, Mark Knopfler, David Gilmour and Gary Moore. Rowland Rivron has a great turn as the prosecuting barrister investigating whether a book of songs really is “easy to play” on guitar. I remember seeing this on TV first time around so it’s great to rediscover it on YouTube.
The next is another one I remember from a Comic Relief event and features Rowan Atkinson on top form, interviewing Elton John and getting quite fixated on one thing: Elton’s name.
And finally, David Bowie got to show his talent for comedy songs with the laughing gnome himself: on Ricky Gervais’ Extras…
Runner up? Perhaps Chris Martin is unlucky not to feature in the top five – he has been on a few shows and shown decent comic timing, not least on this Comic Relief sketch with Bono (and Gervais again).
Do you know of any other similar sketches featuring DJs, pop stars or rock legends? If so, please share them in the comments section below…