Laughs and Riffs: Why Metal and Comedy Go Well Together

Kelley Simms meets modern comic greats Don Jameison and Jim Breuer at the intersection of hilarity and headbanging

Okilly Dokilly

Parody bands such as Beatallica (a Beatles/Metallica mash-up), Mac Sabbath (McDonald’s meets Black Sabbath) and Metalachi (Mexican mariachi music set to metal), to name a few, all have their place in the overall musical landscape.

Of course, metal has its sometimes cheesy, tongue-in-cheek, parody moments as well, with Manowar, Psychostick, GWAR and the ultimate parody metal band Spinal Tap leading the way.

Phoenix-based death/punk newcomers Okilly Dokilly – whose comedic image and concept is fully based on the character Ned Flanders from the animated TV series The Simpsons – has emerged with its own self-dubbed brand of metal called “Nedal.” The bespectacled five-piece – complete with matching green sweaters, pink polo shirts and real mustaches — took the comedic concept and ran with it.

“We never intended on starting a band out of it,” vocalist Head Ned told me earlier this year. “We were just imagining the heaviest, most brutal, crazy metal band… but with the worst, most unfitting name. One of us said, ‘Okilly Dokilly,’ from there, we talked about what if the lead singer was Ned Flanders. Then, what if all the members were Ned Flanders and what if we called it ‘Nedal.’ We just took it and went way overboard with the Ned Flanders theme.”

The metal-meets-comedy concept isn’t just contained to music, either. The world of stand-up comedy has its rendition of the “inner metal circle” of comedy as well.

Jim Breuer / Photo by Phil Provencio

Lifelong metalhead and prolific stand-up comedian Jim Breuer (Saturday Night Live, Half Baked), along with fellow stand-up comedians Brian Posehn (Just Shoot Me, The Big Bang Theory) and Don Jamieson (That Metal Show), are among the most metal of all comics on tour today.

Breuer just recently fulfilled his dream by completing a massive arena tour opening for his all-time favorite band, thrash metal titans Metallica, on the band’s second leg of its North American “WorldWired” Tour.

“Oh my God, it was the greatest gig I ever did!” Breuer exclaimed during a recent phone interview. “To be able to do that and have them trust that I would entertain their crowd and find some type of fan experience for an hour, hour and a half before they came out was such an honor and I took it with great pride. I think that was a gig that I would do my entire life if I had the opportunity.”

New Jersey comic Jamieson has also opened for a plethora of rock and metal bands over the years, recent slots include Nashville Pussy, Zakk Sabbath and Faster Pussycat.

“My set has been battle-tested with the rock crowds,” Jamieson told me recently. “I kind of pride myself on bringing a rock and roll attitude to my normal stand-up. Years ago, when I first started, you either went on the Tonight Show or Saturday Night Live or you did a Comedy Central special. Now it’s like, I have some recognition with the rock audience from doing That Metal Show.”

Before landing the That Metal Show gig, Jamieson slugged it out in the comedy clubs for 15 years. Some of his top comedic highlights are his collaboration with fellow TMS co-host Jim Florentine on HBO’s Inside the NFL, Comedy Central’s Meet the Creeps and MTV2’s Crank Yankers. So far, Jamieson has released three comedy albums through the legendary Metal Blade Records, with a soon-to-be released fourth one on the way.

Don Jamieson

Breuer on the other hand, stepped outside of the box and released a non stand-up, full-on metal album in 2016 with Songs From The Garage, complete with a backing band and musical guests such as New York thrashers Anthrax’s Rob Caggiano and hard rock legends AC/DC vocalist Brian Johnson.

“I had no clue how hard it was to make an album,’ Breuer said. “Brian Johnson was about to go on tour with AC/DC and he calls me and said he wanted to do a song with me. I gave him some lyrics and he drove to our studio on his own, sang with a hand-held mike in the boardroom listening to two speakers, as if he was singing karaoke. And that was the moment when it hit me, ‘Oh my God, Brian Johnson is singing my song with my lyrics.’ It’s just insane. The experience definitely did not suck.”

The majority of Breuer’s and Jamieson’s audience members include rockers and metalheads. But there times where each comedian is able to judge the audience and determine which jokes get used or not.

“I look at my comedy as the ‘Costco’ of comics — there’s something on every isle for somebody,” Jamieson said. “It’s more of the rock ‘n’ roll attitude. If there’s a lot of people who like rock music in the crowd, I’ll do more material about rock. If there’s not… I could perform at a nursing home for an hour, it doesn’t really matter who it is. As long as we’re laughing and having a good time and we go with the flow… it’s going to be a great.”

 

VIDEO: Jim Breuer and the Loud & Rowdy “Thrash”

 

VIDEO: Don Jamieson on the 2019 Megacruise

 

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Kelley Simms

Kelley Simms is a Des Moines-based freelance writer and a graphic designer/illustrator at a daily newspaper. His bylines have appeared in many diverse publications such as The New York Post, Outburn Magazine, BraveWords, Powerplay Magazine, New Noise Magazine, Hails and Horns Magazine, Consequence of Sound and Illinois Entertainer. Reach him on Twitter @simmsbury.

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