With drop their bold and brilliant new album Megaplex later this month and on this LP the power pop trio present more evidence of their pristine synth-laden new direction. Recorded at Ash frontman Tim Wheeler’s Atomic Heart Studios in NYC, and once again produced by Max Hart (ex-Katy Perry), Megaplex will be released via 100% Records on April 27. With almost two decades of experience comes not only a mature approach to crafting delectable hooks, but also a certain wisdom.
Before the dudes from We Are Scientists were turning modern rock and roll on its ear they were practicing stand up comedians in Los Angeles. So Ghettoblaster asked the band to drop some wisdom on their favorite comedians. This is what they told us.
The successful director of such moderately enjoyable entertainments as Role Models and A Futile & Stupid Gesture has only infrequently performed stand-up, but we caught an unannounced set one evening at Eugene Mirman’s old East Village night “Invite Me Up,” and it was the single funniest thing that’s ever happened.
The approach was most closely related to what Wain, David Showalter, and Michael Ian Black did with their short-lived (six episode) run of Stella for Comedy Central: absurdism delivered with total, psycho sincerity. And it handily outdid Wain’s web series Wainy Days, which never had the creative discipline of Stella. And Stella suffered from the same fault that The State did: some great moments, but a fairly low batting average.
Which brings you to Wet Hot American Summer, movie and TV show. The movie is an A+, the show a B. Both marvelous additions to the pantheon of comedy, seemingly maxing out the joke density possible while still telling a decent story. And yet even those high water marks fall short of what David Wain achieved in front of thirty people on a small stage above a bar roughly fifteen years ago: constant, unbroken, rib-aching laughter from the audience for a little less than ten minutes, the length of his set. It’s one of our most treasured memories.
Most stand-ups are playing a character to some degree, but rarely as completely as Greg Turkington does through his stage persona Neil Hamburger. Hamburger is a ghoulish, tuxedo-wearing insult comic who’s always got at least two cocktails held awkwardly along with his mic. His jokes about celebrities don’t feel much different than what you’d hear at an R-rated comedy club in Reno, but the fact of their being delivered by a hilariously drawn evil buffoon changes them from nasty clever things you’d feel bad laughing at, into transcendent little bits of catharsis. It’s a great magic trick.
As a bonus, Neil Hamburger’s handful of comedy albums, dating from as early as the mid-’90s, chart his beginnings as a straight-up anti-humorist, whose extremely lame jokes fall totally flat with his audience (which he recorded separately and carefully choreographed (we think?)), to the significant enjoyment of the at-home listener.
One of the great anchors of the SNL news desk, Norm McDonald’s lazy, befuddled delivery has been honed to a diamond point by years of practice. Watching his frequent appearances on Conan and Letterman are the most honorable use of YouTube; his sketch comedy album is wonderful (Tex Hooper!); his embellished autobiography is funny as hell, especially the audiobook version, which he narrates; and his movie, Dirty Work, mostly sucks, tbh; but holy shit, the dude’s standup is tough to beat.
If there was any doubt, his recent Netflix special dispels it: Gervais is an impeccable joke-crafter. He also happens to be a sufficiently funny presence that you’d laugh at him even if he didn’t have those jokes. Good insurance, though we have yet to see him need it.
The disgraced master. His gnarly backstage behavior doesn’t erase the incomparable craftsmanship, dizzying connection frequency, and perfectly contained on-stage manner. It just means we can’t really enjoy it anymore…
Catch We Are Scientists live here:
June 13 Boston, MA Sonia
June 14 Philadelphia, PA Johnny Brenda’s
June 15 Dover, MD Firefly Music Festival
June 16 New York, NY Bowery Ballroom (Sale Feb 9 @ 12 PM Local)
June 18 Toronto, ON Horseshoe Tavern
June 19 Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Smalls
June 20 Columbus, OH Rumba Cafe
June 21 Indianapolis, IN The Hi-Fi
June 22 Chicago, IL Empty Bottle
June 23 Cincinnati, OH MOTR Pub
June 25 Richmond, VA The Camel
June 26 Washington, DC Rock & Roll Hotel