Tuesday 2nd October 2018
Matthew Chadourne, the founder of QED Comedy Labs, played host for an evening of mocking music videos. His expertise is derived from growing up with MTV in the 80s, and he dubs himself a “scholar of music videos,” but not before apologizing that “Comedy Killed the Video Star” was his idea, or his fault. From the start, Chadourne assumes the role of the self-deprecating comic as he reminisces on his childhood, jokes about his age, and introduces us to the classification system of music videos (you will have to attend future shows for the punch lines).
“Comedy Killed the Video Star” features Chadourne and four other local comedians, who have each selected a nonsensical music video to critique. Tonight’s show began with Billy Ocean’s “Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car,” which was set in a 1980s car wash. Chadourne pointed out ridiculous costume changes and logical flaws in lyrics, instructed us that saxophone solos were legally required in American music in the 1980s, and posed metaphysical questions involving the animation and live-action sequences with two Billy Oceans. Chadourne’s second video was in the spirit of Halloween: Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” which evokes feelings of a haunted house. Overall, the host effortlessly narrated subplots found in the music videos, transitioned us between songs, and employed his wry sense of humour wisely - extending the commentary on others’ videos in addition to his own.
Graeme Hunter, as Chadourne noted, gave us a performance piece based on Radiohead’s “Just.” Hunter donned a “2016 SUCKED” t-shirt and lay down on the floor, claiming that he is more of a lie down than a stand up (comedian). It soon became evident that he was playing the protagonist of the video, and his shirt slogan was fitting in the end. Kitty Speed analyzed the recent cinematic triumph, “Feels” by Calvin Harris and featuring Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, and Big Sean. She researched the production costs, noting that they could afford to hire four big names, but not get them in the same room for filming, and that Perry’s necklace cost £260,000. Speed’s enthusiasm for the lyrical incongruities and her connection to colorblindness was humorous.
Alex Green picked another recent music video: “Electricity” by DuaLipa and Silk City, which showed us the power of dance. In fact, DuaLipa’s dance moves literally began turning on the lights during a blackout, until they did not and her rave guests required headlamps. Green skillfully employed self-deprecating humor in imitating the choreography, and found a comedic subplot in two men stuck in an elevator. Finally, Jay Corcoran rounded out the evening with One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” - the one where a boy band tries to look more “adult.” The video features the boys’ night out from a party, to a kebab shop, a romp with some mobility scooters, and stealing a boat, among other exploits. Corcoran did his research, and presented it amusingly - explaining terms from the lyrics and how stealing a boat is a seven-year sentence in prison.
I enjoyed being able to see diverse interpretations of the absurd situations so widespread in music videos - all for comic effect. While the seemingly extemporaneous deliveries made for a relaxed setting, reminiscent of friends crowding around a computer to poke fun at a viral video, I would have liked a bit more of a polished show - it did not always work well when the presenter was narrating along as if they had never seen the video before. Altogether, QED Comedy Lab has created an interesting platform to review (or rather, ridicule) music videos from various decades, highlighting how they just don’t make sense. The next installment of “Comedy Killed the Video Star” will be a Christmas-themed show in December.