Comedy rock

Comedy rock

Comedy rock is rock music mixed with comedy, often satire and parody.[1]


Early American examples include Stan Freberg, who lampooned artists such as Elvis Presley, Harry Belafonte and The Platters, and Sheb Wooley. Freberg's "Purple People Eater" reached No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart in 1958 and stayed there 6 weeks.[2]

In Britain during the 1950s and early 1960s comedians such as Charlie Drake and The Goons frequently appeared in the top ten with humorous rock 'n' roll records—the latter, along with Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear, were to influence the word-play of John Lennon's lyrics. Later British groups specialised in comedy: these included The Scaffold, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band and Alberto y Lost Trios Paranoias. Later in Britain, in the 2000s, Mitch Benn released several studio albums that satirised current affairs using various musical genres, but mainly rock. His 2012 Breaking Strings album was critically acclaimed for its rock sensibility.[3]

Some comedy rock artists, such as Frank Zappa, and more recently Tenacious D, 15 Minutes of Fame and Flight of the Conchords create songs with amusing, witty, and/or over-the-top lyrics. Other acts such as Dread Zeppelin and Beatallica rely on unusual or intentionally contrasting genre-mixing for comic effect, while bands like GWAR and Rosemary's Billygoat utilize outrageous costumes and over-the-top stage shows.

Dan Finnerty with his The Dan Band has made legendary comedy rock appearances in the Todd Phillips films Old School and The Hangover spoofing "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Candy Shop", as well as his cult hit live show, which parodies female cover songs and was filmed as a one-hour TV special directed by McG and executive produced by Steven Spielberg.

Many mainstream rock and punk rock and pop-punk bands are known to incorporate comedy songs in their work: Dead Kennedys, The Offspring, Bloodhound Gang, Blink-182, Bowling For Soup, Reel Big Fish, Sublime, Primus, System of a Down, Green Jellÿ, Camper Van Beethoven, The Meatmen, The Mentors, They Might Be Giants, Psychostick, The Presidents of the United States of America, Andrew Jackson Jihad and Filipino bands Parokya ni Edgar and Halik Ni Gringo.

The pop rock and folk rock band The Turtles released a comedy rock album, The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands, in 1968, though the band had previously incorporated humor into their songs.[4] Two of its members, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman later performed more explicitly comedic songs as Flo & Eddie with their own band and with Frank Zappa.

Rock has been the target of many spoofs and several spoof bands have gone on to have hit records, for example Spinal Tap in the U.S., and The Hee Bee Gee Bees and Bad News in the U.K. "Weird Al" Yankovic, now in his fourth decade of creating song parodies, has sold more than 12 million albums (more than any comedy act in history).[5] The virtual band Dethklok is death metal spoof featured in the Adult Swim animated TV Show Metalocalypse[6] and their album entitled The Dethalbum debuted at No. 21 on the Billboard Top 200 list.[7] Other examples of metal mixed with comedy are Scatterbrain, M.O.D., Massacration, and the Polish band Acid Drinkers, which set them apart from the doom and gloom of their peers, such as Slayer and Metallica.

The band Steel Panther, formerly known as Metal Skool, has become a fixture on the Los Angeles Sunset Strip with their spoof of 80s glam metal[8] and their success has opened the doors for other Hollywood spoof bands such as The Jimi Homeless Experience.[9]

Punk rock has made its contribution to the comedy rock ranks, with such bands as The Dead Milkmen, The Aquabats, The Radioactive Chicken Heads, Jilted John and The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Sid Vicious's cover of "My Way" is comedy rock of a more sardonic sort.


  1. ^ V. Bogdanov, C. Woodstra and S. T. Erlewine, All music guide to rock: the definitive guide to rock, pop, and soul (Backbeat Books, 3rd Edition., 2002), pp. 126.
  2. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits: The Inside Story Behind Every Number.  
  3. ^ Stephenson, John-Paul (10 February 2012). "CD Review: Mitch Benn & The Distractions – Breaking Strings.". Giggle Beats. Retrieved 31 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Ofjord. > Review"The Turtles Present the Battle of the Bands" at AllMusic. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  5. ^ Harrington, Richard (10 August 2007). "Weird Al's Imitation: A Funky Form of Flattery". Washington Post. Retrieved 10 August 2007. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Dethalbum Debuts At #21 On Billboard Top 200" 9 October 2007
  8. ^ "Feeling The Steel Panther: Interview with Michael Starr". Nightlife. The Aquarian Weekly. 4 October 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2009. 
  9. ^ Official Press Release