Spinal Tap is coming back from the dead with a new album, coincidentally titled Back From The Dead, out June 16. And here they are, the alter-egos of Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer, discussing several of the tracks. Such as "Stonehenge." Did you know that druids used to run show business? Learn that and much more on the new Spinal Tap YouTube page.
And here's a Spinal Tap widget to play with, watch and listen to cuts from the album:
Demand has been so strong for "Unwigged and Unplugged," the concert tour featuring Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean performing songs from both This is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind, that they've added a second date to their upcoming NYC appearances May 26-27 at the Beacon Theatre. Tickets go on sale Friday for the second NYC show, but are available for most other Unwigged and Unplugged concerts across North America, which begins April 17 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and runs through the end of May.
The trio will appear tonight on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann, too. Here is a clip of them talking about their tour from the April 1 edition of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno:
After the jump, a longer teaser of the trio performing a medley of their hits live in concert at the press conference announcing their tour plans...
For the 51st annual Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy went with a live, primetime announcement/mini-concert. But you want to know who got nominated, don't you? While putting American Idol's star judge Simon Cowell up for Record of the Year (he produced "Bleeding Love" for Leona Lewis along with Clive Davis and Ryan "Alias" Tedder) certainly contains some comedic value because you wonder if he'll show up in a tight black V-neck or a tight black tuxedo, we do have some other actual comedy honors to share with you as well. Although there are some truly outrageous and ridiculous nominations among the dozens of categories, too (but that's for me to analyze in another forum).
Best Comedy Album nominees from 2007-2008
Lewis Black, "Anticipation"
Flight of the Conchords, "Flight of the Conchords"
Kathy Griffin, "For Your Consideration"
George Carlin, "It's Bad For Ya"
Harry Shearer, "Songs of the Bushmen"
Didn't Flight of the Conchords win last year for their EP, which is just a shorter version of this album? If you want to get all technical about it, then, yes. So cross them off the list. And do not be surprised for a posthumous honor to go to Carlin.
In Best Spoken Word Album, Steve Martin's "Born Standing Up" goes up against Stephen Colbert's "I Am America (And So Are You)" and David Sedaris ("When You Are Engulfed in Flames")! Also in this category: Sidney Poitier ("Life Beyond Measure") and the trio of Beau Bridges, Cynthia Nixon and Blair Underwood (reading Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"). As much as Colbert has been the man of the moment for the past two years, Martin really should get this, wouldn't you agree?
Freestyle Love Supreme can celebrate some more, as Lin-Man and King Sherman's "In The Heights" soundtrack is up for Best Muscial Show Album (against Gypsy, The Little Mermaid, South Pacific and Young Frankenstein).
John C. Reilly singing "Walk Hard" got nominated for Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (also earning Judd Apatow a nomination as co-writer). They're up against John Mayer, Peter Gabriel, Carrie Underwood, and Amy Adams.
Harry Shearer and his band, The High Value Detainees, will perform their first New York City concert Saturday, Nov. 1, at the new 92YTribeca. Shearer gave new interviews to Gothamist and New York magazine. They both focus on the music and Shearer's politics.
But for my money, as a journalist in the comedy business, Shearer has provided some fascinatingly funny stuff with his access to raw footage from TV news feeds on My Damn Channel. Shearer's "Found Objects" series shows you how TV news anchors such as Katie Couric and Dan Rather have acted when they thought the cameras weren't rolling, as well as some titters courtesy of Mike Huckabee and Ann Coulter. His most recent effort, The Final Silent Debate, culling together the many moments in which Barack Obama and John McCain had to wait for their on-camera cues. Enjoy:
Today's "big deal" on Funny or Die is the short, "Bang, Blow and Stroke," a behind-the-scenes look at the metal band Vesuvius, from the upcoming film The Rocker with Rainn Wilson. Jason Sudeikis and Jon Glaser provide commentary, and band members include Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Lonny Ross and Bradley Cooper. As a few commenters on FOD already have pointed out, this sounds and looks quite a bit like a 21st century version of This is Spinal Tap. Would it seem as much, though, if the band members didn't take on British accents? Watch, compare, then discuss. Here is your (warning: NSFW) look at Vesuvius:
And here, for you kids who need a reminder, was Spinal Tap. Go back in the Wayback Machine to the official movie trailer, which manages to include the essential scenes without giving away some of the most memorable lines:
Just checking my feeds from some of my other favorite comedy sites (look on the left column here, and you'll see the most recent postings from Comedy Central Insider, Dead-Frog, The Apiary, The Baston and Shecky Magazine, as they're updated) and saw a couple of new and funny videos posted on CCInsider, thought I'd take a look-see at what else is new and online.
First up, Olde English proves that sometimes it's better not to overthink a situation:
After the jump, we've got videos from Pete & Brian, Funny or Die featuring Nick Swardson and David Spade, and Harry Shearer revealing the Katie Couric you don't see. Click and enjoy!
Harry Shearer is a man of many voices, to be sure. And that's just on The Simpsons, where Shearer voices the characters of Mr. Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, the Rev. Timothy Lovejoy, among others. You've heard him for years on Le Show, his weekly public radio program. Seen him on Saturday Night Live (that synchronized swimming sketch alone is legendary). With Christopher Guest and company, he's been in both This Is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind, and now For Your Consideration. He even blogs, for crying out loud — he started the "Eat the Press" feature on the Huffington Post. And now he has delivered his first novel, the satirical "Not Enough Indians."
I spoke with Shearer about the book and everything else.
OK. That's enough of a build-up. Let's bring Shearer down a notch. First question: How come Le Show still isn't on the air in Boston? Does it even matter, since you can listen to archived shows online? "I wish I knew," he said. "I guess it's people calling 'BUR, 'GBH saying what the hell is wrong with you people. Like they say, you know Boston isn't really a big college town."
"I have the perception that not being on the air in New York City affects the perception of people in the media business as to what I do. People in the media business are so freaking lazy. They want it served up to you on a silver platter…It affects the media profile of the show. But that's just about New York. It's such a provincial place."
What about the blogging? "I know Brian Williams has told me in a public encounter that he was reading the Eat the Press blog. But sometimes I feel…most bloggers are talking to each other. They feel they're part of a very lively center of the universe type of thing. But inside the heart of every satirist beats a desire to basically say, 'Why don't you guys stop doing this?'" Case in point: "How the national media really missed the story of New Orleans." Shearer has a home in New Orleans.
What about Indian casinos…do you want to make them stop? Is that why you wrote the book? "No, no. Social satire is much different from political satire. Look at what a wacky species we are…look at the motivating impulses there…if you were walking through a human zoo, what kind of animals would we see?"
Well, what kind of animals do you see in your zoo? Caught him off-guard with that one. Almost Barbara Waltersesque? Let's move on. "What I try to poke fun of in this book is small-town boosterism, the bizarre historical switcheroo that turned Native Americans from victims of a near-complete genocide to casino magnates, and how government works — or doesn't."
Did you go to Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods to research the book? No, he said, though he did spend time at a California tribe's casino. And he is painfully aware of how Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have become the largest casinos in the world, and are only getting bigger. Because, as he pointed out: "There may be a bigger on one Mars. So you never know. I loved the moment where Mohegan Sun became the franchisee of a WNBA franchise. That was a major moment. I'm waiting for one of them to form a major orchestra. And then for one of them to declare themselves the 51st state. Well, they can't do that. That would be too…but something else grandiose. The notion that they're a sovereign nation. OK, but then they have to go hat in hand to Washington to ask for recognition."
But casinos do seem to the big easy answer, don't they? "Yeah, build a casino! Do you remember that was Mayor (Ray) Nagin's first suggestion on how to rebuild New Orleans." Before turning New Orleans into a Chocolate City, 'twas casinos.
How much of an influence was Jack Benny on your decision to become a satirist? You performed on his show in 1953 when you were only 10. "I think you'd have to say it was, in a sense. I have this very strong visual memory supplemented by a photograph of the first time I made Jack Benny laugh, which was on a read-through," he said. "Right away, it was like, oh my God! I do have this theory that people go into comedy, everybody as a child has this…a lot of people have, they feel that it's an unpleasant experience to be laughed at by the other kids. The moment you can control that, it's very intoxicating."
"That was totally one of the first times, yeah," he said of working with Benny. "I was doing the fake comedy shows with friends that I was tape recording. It was very important to me because I got skipped in school, so I was two years younger than anyone else. I needed something. I wouldn't beat anybody up. I wasn't a class clown. Don't get me wrong, it helps to be known as someone who did that, but that wasn't me."