Posts Tagged ‘John Lennon’

I feel like that title loses something towards the end…

What would Rufio do?

bang

Eh, whatever!

If you’ve been lucky enough to see Scott Aukerman’s live comedy show turned podcast turned IFC television show turned touring live comedy show, then you know what it feels like when your stomach aches the next morning because you were laughing so hard you pulled a muscle you weren’t aware you had.

It’s one thing to listen to Aukerman and his rotating cast of comedians and “friends of the show” or watch many of the same comedy-bang-652x367-538x301people reprise their audio personas for the television show, but seeing the magic (I know, I’m groaning too) of live improv by people at the top of their game heightens the experience shared among the audience and performers. You laugh more because the people around you are laughing, creating an energy that’s palpable in the theater. The laughs, however, go deeper and last longer as each new guest builds upon previous riffs and alters the group dynamic on stage. Of course a live audience means some measure of interaction, instigated or otherwise, but it speaks to the skill of the performers that they never lose their cool or their rhythm while addressing their less-than-silent observers.

“But who were these hilariously adept comedians gracing the stage for your viewing pleasure?” I hear you asking me over the internet.

Excellent question. I’m glad you probably asked it. To answer it, here’s a brief synopsis of the tour’s second-to-last show in Seattle, Washington at the Moore Theater. If you actually want to listen to the show, which you can, you need only subscribe to Howl.fm where you can listen to all 21 performances. You can also tell me whether or not I’m remembering the night correctly because I love being corrected in a public forum.

Author’s Note: Do not inform me if I’m remembering the night correctly. Let me have my illusions!scottaukerman

Front and center was Scott Aukerman, the creator and host of Comedy Bang Bang. Aukerman practically bounded on to the stage of the Moore Theater and almost immediately focused in on the eleven-year-old boy seated in the front row, between his parents, for a show that was likely to go blue the minute he brought out the first guest. In his own words, “Now I want to swear more!” After making the customary comparisons to Portland, as is the traditional means of addressing Seattleites, Aukerman was very complimentary towards the city since the podcast recorded its first live show, under the Bang Bang banner, at the annual Bumbershoot music and arts festival in 2011. With his complimentary remarks out of the way, and a brief taunting of one of the stagehands off stage, Aukerman called out his first guest: Director Mr. Gary Marshall as portrayed by Paul F. Tompkins.

A regular guest with a plethora of characters in his repertoire (the Cake Boss, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Werner Herzog come to mind), Tompkins no doubt had his pick of whom to play. As Gary Marshall, the director of all the holiday movies, Tompkins revels in the cranky, pragmatic, yet easily excitable characterization he’s built over the last five years. What’s Marshallfantastic about Tompkins’s status as first guest is the time it gives him and Aukerman to keep their odd couple routine going throughout the entirety of the show. Though Aukerman typically takes on the straight man role as host of the podcast – and to a lesser extent on the television show – whenever Tompkins is a featured player the dynamic changes. Case in point, when Mr. Marshall came out on stage and chose the stool upon which to perch, Aukerman and he engaged in a game of Move-The-Sweat-Rags, which Aukerman commented were there to clean up the guests’ anal seepage. Less than a minute in and the pair quickly settled into their tried and true role reversal with Mr. Marshall acting as straight man to whatever inane thoughts sprang, barely formed, from Aukerman’s mouth. It’s all about the reaction from Tompkins; his bemused stare at Aukerman while the off-color comment gets a moment to breathe and the audience takes it in as well. After several minutes of testing Gary’s tolerance for Scott’s questions, it was time for the next guest to arrive: Manners Expert Carmella Pointe as portrayed by Lauren Lapkus.

Though Lapkus is fairly new to the Bang Bang rotation, she’s definitely earned her spot with fantastic and disturbing performances as Scott’s Nephew Todd, Ho-Ho the Elf, and Murphy O’Malaman. What’s most notable about Lapkus’s guest appearances is her fearlessness in saying the weirdest, darkest, and the most sexually charged musings if only to get a reaction out of Scott or the other guests. During her performance at the Moore, however, she debuted Carmella and quickly solidified IMG_7303her place among her growing list of characters by politely telling Scott to “kiss her fucking feet.” He obliged, of course, getting down on all fours, as is only polite in such situations. Mr. Marshall got a pass because he’s old. As a trio, Scott and Gary engaged Ms. Pointe in conversation over how to avoid being rude and to practice good manners via a smattering of hypothetical scenarios. One had Scott and Gary as gay couple Louie Anderson and Clive Owen, respectively, helping a pregnant woman through a revolving door post-public sexy times. Another revealed the dark secrets of Gary as the adopted son of Louie Anderson still hypothetically played by Scott. With the scenarios concluded, Aukerman moved on to the next guest: Candymaker Peter Finn as portrayed by Mike Hanford.

Hanford was actually the show’s opening act, taking over the position half way through the tour after Neil Campbell had to drop out. Those familiar with his appearances on the podcast know him for his performance as the very much still alive John Lennon, which Hanford brought out during his opening standup routine. He even managed to almost sing a love song to a girl named Kate. For the show proper, Hanford played Peter Finn, a man who sounds like a more depressed Nicolas Cage. Pining Lennonfor his wife who all but ran away from him, more specifically she rolled away in a giant tire down a hill, Peter could only express his feelings by singing somewhat to the tune of Little Shop of Horrors’ “Somewhere That’s Green.” What became the most entertaining aspect of the show was the interaction amongst the performers and their innate ability to make each other laugh. Lapkus was especially capable of cracking Tompkins with her amazingly foul mouth. Hanford, however, managed to get them both with a combination of the lovelorn candymaker’s wispy voice and his surprisingly fancy footwork. The three combined, however, were nearly overshadowed by the dulcet monotone of LinkedIn Creative Officer Tom Boreman portrayed by Tim Baltz.

Though he was the last performer brought out, Baltz’s Boreman quickly made for a distinct voice and personality in comparison to the other comedians. And by distinct I mean flat and sorely lacking. It paid off in spades, however, when Boreman attempted to explain LinkedIn to the perplexed panel of characters and said the magic word, “Boolean.” If you don’t know what a Boolean search is, I encourage you to look it up, but Boreman’s attempt to explain the Boolean to the others Baltzmade for some of the most intense laughter from both on and off the stage. I’m cracking myself up as I type this because I remember Baltz’s voice and the frequency of him saying “Boolean” in answer to any questions put forth about the excitingly lackluster functionality of LinkedIn. Basically, the last ten minutes of this show would be worth the Howl.fm subscription. Trust me, I don’t say this lightly.

By the end of the night, the show gave me the much needed gift of laughter, a new appreciation for the word Boolean, and something to think about in terms of the proper actions when helping pregnant women into buildings while carrying ten bags of designer clothing. And isn’t that what live podcasts are supposed to do?

I wanna say…probably?

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I think this is an appropriate way to close out not only Beatles-Cember, but also the year itself. Hello 2014, Goodbye 2013.

“Hello, Goodbye” doesn’t really have much to do with anything except as an example of how Paul McCartney could compose a song. Coming off of a request from manager Brian Epstein about creating a song, McCartney had Epstein’s personal assistant, Alistair Taylor, say the opposite word of what Paul sang as he played his harmonium.

The song was featured on the Magical Mystery Tour album and was featured in the television film of the same name. Additionally, three promotional films were made for the song, all of them directed by Paul McCartney, which included the Beatles performing the song in their Sgt. Pepper uniforms as well as the last time the group wore the grey Mersey suits that had been associated with them since they’d become a household name.

A gospel-like song about loss and acceptance, “Let it Be” is considered to be one of the Beatles’ greatest songs. The song’s name is shared with the group’s 12th and final studio album as a group as well as the film that documented the creation of the album. During the tense session that witnessed the dissolution of the band, Paul McCartney was inspired to write the song after having a dream about his mother, Mary, who’d died of cancer when he was fourteen.

In many ways, the longevity of “Let it Be” can be attributed to its release prior to John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s announcement that the group was breaking up. The lyrics have often been interpreted as a message from the group to their fans, knowing they’re upset, but asking for acceptance.

Another two-fer so we can get all caught up!

“Yellow Submarine” was another song composed by McCartney for Ringo Starr, the inspiration of which came from McCartney just trying to think of a story to tell. Finding an angle with a sea captain weaving an ever more nonsensical and fantastical tale, coupled with lyrics contributed from both John Lennon and Donovan, and you have the delightful children’s tune we know and love. That doesn’t stop people from adding their own socio-political messages.

The song was so popular that, though it was recorded for the album Revolver, it was reused and made the title song of the move of the same name. It was also the Beatles’ third, and supposedly final, contracted film with United Artists. Yellow Submarine was an animated film set around the music of the Beatles that pulled from various albums and told the story of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’s journey to stop the Blue Meanies from destroying Pepperland. The Beatles were originally slated to provide their voices for their animated counterparts, but it ultimately fell to other actors to do their best Liverpudlian accents. To fulfill their contract, the band appears, briefly, at the end in a live action sequence.

Contrary to popular belief, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” isn’t about LSD. The inspiration for the song came from a drawing Julian Lennon did of one of his classmates. When he showed it to his father, John, and stated that the title of the drawing was “Lucy – in the sky with diamonds” John just ran with the concept and created a song. The LSD rumors continued to be fueled, however, with the lyrics and the musical arrangement giving the song the feel of an acid trip, but there ya go.

The song itself has remained a popular piece of pop culture history. There have been multiple covers of the song and one parody song, “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)”, was actually a hit for John Fred and His Playboy Band in 1967. Lennon even references the song in “I Am the Walrus”.

Another two-fer as I’ve realized I’ve fallen short on the Beatles’ song count for the month.

“Something” was written by George Harrison and was the only song written by him to top the US charts while he was with the band. It was definitely one of the Beatles’ more popular hits amongst other musicians considering both John and Paul praised it as not only Harrison’s best writing, but one of the best Beatles songs, and its extensive list of artists who’ve covered it: Elvis Presley all the way to Phish. Harrison’s preferred cover was the one by James Brown.

When pressed for what or who inspired the song, Harrison has gone on record saying no one really inspired the song. It was just something he wrote during his down time. People just assumed it was about his then wife, Pattie Boyd (the inspiration for Eric Clapton’s “Layla”), because of the promotional video put together that played the song over footage of George and Pattie, John and Yoko, Paul and Linda, and Ringo and his then wife Maureen.

“Get Back” was written for the Let it Be album and “movie” but its inception essentially came from cannibalizing verses from other songs, specifically George Harrison’s “Sour Milk Sea”, and on-and-off sessions of messing around with the lyrics and music while recording. It’s one of the rare Beatles songs that is essentially documented every step of the way since the cameras were rolling the whole time during the Let it Be sessions. The song itself has two verses, one about a man named JoJo headed from Arizona to California and the other about the sexually ambiguous Loretta Martin. Neither seem to be connected other than the fact that they’re in the same song and there may be an implication that they should, as the chorus says, “Get back” to where they once belonged.

Musically, “Get Back” is driven principally by the bass and drums, but it also includes a lively electric piano solo by the late Billy Preston, who was brought in by George Harrison to break up the tension in the studio since the group was bickering quite a bit.

Today is the day that marks the 50th anniversary of the US release of “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. It was the first number one hit The Beatles had in the United States and it unofficially marked the beginning of the “British Invasion” of rock and roll music in the US. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was written in the basement of McCartney’s then girlfriend, Jane Asher’s, parents’ house where he and Lennon were essentially sitting right across from each other, composing songs in a little room where Asher would teach oboe lessons.

It’s also one of two songs that The Beatles did in German as well. “Komm, gib mir deine Hand” was partnered with “Sie Liebt Dich” – “She Loves You” – for the German market that had basically spearheaded the group’s popularity in the early days, though the necessity of the recordings was probably unnecessary.

Written by Paul McCartney in 1968, “Lady Madonna” was McCartney’s attempt to write a bluesy, Fats Domino style song, which Fats Domino later covered in the same year. A raucous, piano-led tune, “Lady Madonna” originally started off, lyrically, about the Virgin Mary, mostly inspired by the Catholic population of Liverpool, but later evolved into one about a working class woman facing a problem every day of the week. Every day except for Sunday.

Seems like an appropriate song for the holiday season, I suppose. Actually, not really. “Come Together” was recorded for the Abbey Road album and released as a double A-side with “Something”. John Lennon was inspired by Timothy Leary’s campaign for governor of California against Ronald Reagan, which had the slogan, “Come together, join the party.” The song’s lyrics are supposedly cryptic references to the individual Beatles with one figure in particular referring to Lennon as he works out his personal demons in the song.

And because it is Christmas Eve, here’s one of John Lennon’s solo numbers, “Happy Christmas (War is Over)”, to really get you in the holiday spirit!

While obviously not an original Beatles song, this cover of the Top Notes song that was also a cover hit for The Isley Brothers might just be the song that started “Beatlemania” following the performance of the Beatles at The Royal Variety Show in 1963. It was the only cover song recorded by the Beatles to sell one million copies, peaking at #2 in the US in 1964. “Twist and Shout” was recorded for the Please Please Me session, the first album recording for the band that became infamous for the 11 songs recorded in 10 hours. “Twist and Shout” was the last song to be recorded during the session due to the toll it took on John Lennon’s voice. Lennon was also suffering from a cold during the session and George Martin only got one take of the song because Lennon’s voice was pretty much gone afterwards.

The song received another resurgence in 1986 when it was used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, lip-synched by Matthew Broderick, and Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School.

“Hey Jude” has become possibly the most iconic of The Beatles’ catalog of song for two reasons. One, it’s the longest song they ever recorded, clocking in at a little over seven minutes. Two, it reaches anthem-level status by the time it reaches the “na-na-na-na” portion. It isn’t hard to get a group of people singing the coda and crying out “Hey Jude!” no matter where you are.

The song is entangled in drama, but at the very core it’s a song from Paul McCartney to Julian Lennon, John’s son, to comfort him when Lennon and his wife Cynthia were divorcing over his affair with Yoko Ono. Originally titled, “Hey Jules,” McCartney changed the name to Jude because he thought it sounded better and was easier to sing. Though in changing the name, Lennon took the song to be a bit of encouragement on McCartney’s part for him to stay with Ono.

“Hey Jude” was recorded during the same sessions for The White Album, but was released as a single with “Revolution” as the B-side. It was also the first single distributed via The Beatles’ label Apple Records.