Friday, December 28, 2007

The first Stella, before SNL.

If I've had one curse in my life, it would have to be my father. I mean, I've ended up exactly like him, with the same idiosyncrasies. I mean, I know it's cool to have eclectic tastes, but my father has made it an art form. So many of my favorite bands have been implanted into me by my dad, that turn us into even greater recluses in the world of music. Starting from the vaguely commercial, like Ween and They Might Be Giants to the unacceptably zany Zappa and Beefheart to the totally off the radar shit like The Angry Samoans, I have been programmed to read into art deeper than your typical kid. I did a report in 7th grade on Jean Luc Ponty. That was my childhood. One of the things that I always took for granted, though, was the comedy troupe that my dad was way into as a kid. It was hard for me to consider comedy being anything other than universal. I didn't have that schema in my head a comedy being something one could fail at, or even be a cult icon in.

The Firesign Theatre, though, is in the upper echelons of cult comedy. No one...I mean no one knows about these guys, but they did carve their own little comedic niche. Think sketch comedy not mixed with the evening news, but sketch comedy superimposed over the evening news, and their greatest hits compilation is a great way to get started. Shoes for Industry winds its way, mainly chronologically through the Theatre's large collection of material. It is a double disk, and will leave you asking hundreds of questions because while these guys didn't invent the inside joke, they sure made use of it. There are a few recurring characters who seem to sometimes meet, like Nick Danger, your typical pulp private eye with a twist, and Young Guy, Moto Detective who is also a pulp private eye, except he's Asian and his only concern is what form of transportation he'll be taking to the scene of the crime.

But don't think these guys are one trick ponies. There's also a skit called Temporarily Humbolt County, which is a far flung commentary on the [mis]treatment of native Americans. Comedy ensues.

A lot of the comedy does not correspond to the times today because they were, all in all, political satirists. The Breaking of the President is a skit wherein Richard Nixon is a carnival attraction who will answer your questions, if you know what to ask.
"The main spring of this country, wound up as tight as it is, is guaranteed for the life of the watch."
So if you took a few recent US history classes in college, and want to know what the far left really felt about our nation, or you're tired of considering George Will as the be all end all of political humor[?!?] I'd say grab this album and go to town. It's like SNL with a conscious and funny jokes.

Shoes for Industry on Amazon

No comments: