NMT COUNTDOWN: Working Hard For The Funny (Or… How to Rock the Top 10 Bestselling Comedy Songs on NMT)
It’s back to school season and The Green Room is looking out for you. All this month, the NMT Countdown series is bringing you a guide to the best-selling songs on NMT from the last year. Are you planning a cabaret and looking for the perfect stand-alone song? Are you a soprano looking for audition material that shows off your classical skills? The NMT Countdowns will guide you to some of the best songs NMT has to offer. PLUS: for today only, get 20% off the songs on this list with the code NMTCOUNTDOWN. Happy singing!
Billy Crystal once said, “In high school, I was the class comedian as opposed to the class clown. The difference is, the class clown is the guy who drops his pants at the football game, and the class comedian is the guy who talked him into it.”
To pull off a comedy piece, you need two things:
- An understanding of comedy.
- Oh! No… wait! That’s it. There is nothing else.
Let me give you an example. In Act 1 of Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Philia sings “Lovely” – a hummable and chuckle-worthy song that tells the world just how beautiful she knows she is.
Now here’s the thing: this song gets laughs, but it’s not the joke. Philia is being truthful with you. She’s lovely, and that’s it. She can’t read or write because her job is just to be pretty. We laugh because it’s a bit absurd, and quite out of the social norm, to announce how gorgeous you are. But again, NOT the joke.
The comedic brilliance of this piece comes in Act 2. Dressed as Philia, Hysterium sings the same song. But just Hysterium singing it is STILL NOT the joke. Hysterium isn’t singing it because he saw Philia sing it and now he’s dressed like her. Nor is the ha-ha-ha produced because he’s a man in drag. Nope.
This genius joke lands, and you laugh, because Hysterium truly does think that he, himself, looks lovely. He’s not being campy, or trying to be a caricature of Philia. He believes every word he says. And apparently, there in Rome, that’s the song you sing when you’re THAT good-looking.
Men who play this song for laughs are class clowns. Men who play this song for real are comedians.
Below are 10 songs you can use to try out your comedy chops. Please don’t pick a song based on your joke-telling ability, but instead, pick it based on your understanding of timing, delivery, and outcome. And here’s something to think about as you work on these pieces: Are you singing the joke, or the comedy?
Find the words or phrase you think will make people laugh, then back it up. The words that evoke laughter are you hitting the ball, but remember, it has to be pitched to you first. So that’s why you search for, and put emphasis, where the joke starts. Then you swing and follow through.
So here we go. You think you know comedy? Well, let’s see. These are the top 10 bestselling comedy songs across NMT in the last year, paired with performances where the actors really knocked it out of the park. How will you play these songs and make sure your jokes land? Game on!
1. Blue Hair (Joe Iconis)
2. Accident Prone (Kirsten Guenther)
3. Don’t Wanna be Here (Adam Gwon)
4. Joey Is A Punk Rocker (Joe Iconis)
5. Even Though (Salzman & Cunningham)
6. The Text Message Song (Drew Gasparini)
7. Two Little Lines (Drew Gasparini)
8. My Party Dress (Kerrigan-Lowdermilk)
9. Calm (Adam Gwon)
10. I’m Sorry (Kerrigan-Lowdermilk)
Click here to stream today’s NMT Countdown playlist. Remember, the code NMTCOUNTDOWN is good for these songs today only, so if you’re itching to work on your comedic chops this semester, snatch up this deal before it’s gone!