Comedy and music have been natural partners since the vaudeville days. From those early days of modern show business, through radio, films, television, and the golden years of Catskills resorts, comics as individuals and in groups enhanced their acts by singing humorous songs, often accompanying themselves on various instruments. The variety shows of the 1970s continued this format with the hosts and sketch performing sketch comedy along with musical numbers. Weird Al Yankovic continued the trend into the 80s with his brilliant and hilarious song parodies. He continues to record and tour today. With the advent of YouTube and other online venues, musical comedy groups continue to appear. No matter the era or the technology, comedy, and music go hand-in-hand.
The Marx Brothers
The trail that eventually led to comedy/music teams such as Dan Avidan AKA “Danny Sexbang” and Brian Wecht AKA “Ninja Brian”, began in the early 2oth Century. The legendary comedy team The Marx Brothers that went on to make some of the greatest comedic films of the 30s started in vaudeville as a musical act. Managed by their mother Minnie, Groucho played guitar, Chico piano, and Harpo of course, harp. Even when the brothers became a comedy team, they sustained the musical part of their act with Groucho and Chico often singing as well as playing.
Jack Benny, star of stage, screen, and radio, as he liked to call himself was another vaudeville performer who starred in the other media. With his trusty violin and his cast of regulars, he entertained millions for decades. Part of Benny’s schtick was that he was a terrible musician. In real life, Jack was actually a very good violinist who gave concerts for charity.
Martin and Lewis
Each had legendary solo careers but Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis started out as a team. The suave crooner Martin served as the musical half and straight man, while Lewis took the comedic role as the wild man. Starting out in nightclubs, the duo eventually moved on to radio, television, and films. The formula worked like a charm for ten years until they went their own ways.
Weird Al Yankovic
The king of song parodies Weird Al burst onto the scene in the 1980s with hilarious music and videos spoofing popular songs of the era. The musical quality was every bit the equal of the comedy. Yankovic still records and tours even today, thrilling fans in packed arenas.
Ninja Sex Party
The combination of comedy of music lives on today in the duo known as Ninja Sex Party. Avidan and Wecht created two hilarious characters. The former sings while the latter plays keyboards as the interact musically and comedically. Eight albums over 10 years with plenty of tour dates attest to the success of NSP.
Comedy and music are two universally loved art forms. Put them together and you can create something truly special. For over 100 years, comedic/musical acts have thrilled audiences on the stage, big and small screens, over the airwaves, and on recordings.