Back when I was a DJ at WLCV radio, I broadcast the Dr. Demento show every week for several years.
Here are some of my favorite parody bands, specifically only counting artists who base their music on other people’s music and lyrics, not just general comedy musicians (who will come later) or cover bands (also later).
These are “my” bands. The bands that helped shape who I am, roughly in order of how much they mean to me.
Dave Mattingly: The Musical, Part 4
- Weird Al Yankovic
- Known For: Eat It, and just about every popular parody in the last 40 years
- Memories: Al has become the pop culture that he mocks, yet remains apart from it; above it, even. If the oddballs of the world ever formed our own nation, Weird Al would be our king. “We don’t need no steenking badgers!”
- Favorite Songs: Dare to be Stupid, Everything You Know is Wrong, White & Nerdy, Word Crimes, Spam, Weird Al Theme Song, Grapefruit Diet, Happy Birthday, Pretty Fly for a Rabbi, Since You’ve been Gone, Dog Eat Dog, Spatula City, CNR
- Known For: Bethlehemian Rhapsody
- Memories: I never liked the Hootie song upon which it was based, but the first time I heard Naomi Gonna be with Ruth, I know this was a band that I’d be listening to for a long time. One time, they hosted a concert about two blocks from my house! I couldn’t believe how close they’d be. The guitarist, Karl, joked that the singer Jay wrote all the lyrics, which worked out great, since he (Karl) wrote all the music. *rimshot*
- Favorite Songs: Bone Digger, Who’s There, Real Sin Savior, Read Ephesians, Naomi Gonna be with Ruth, Jacob’s Name is Israel, I’m Gonna Feed (500 Mouths), Sufferin’ Just Finished, We’re in a Parody Band
- Luke Ski
- Known For: Stealing Like a Hobbit
- Memories: Luke is talented and funny, and a driven hard worker. He performs every week and he releases a new song every month. He organized The FuMP, the Funny Music Project. I even wrote a parody song about him, “With Luke Ski” sung to Eminem’s “Without Me.”
- Favorite Songs: 88 Lines about 44 Simpsons, Christopher Walken Sings Spongebob Squarepants, Crazy Jay, House Party at Arkham Asylum, Keanu Barada Nikto
- Big Daddy
- Known For: Monster Mash-Up
- Memories: Writing a parody is tough enough; staying true to the original music and tweaking the words. But Big Daddy keeps the words, and puts in the music from a completely different song, which completely blows me away. My favorite is their working stiffs mash-up of the Money for Nothing lyrics set to the Sixteen Tons music. Brilliant!
- Favorite Songs: Money for Nothing, Safety Dance, Whip It, Once in a Lifetime
- Allan Sherman
- Known For: Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah
- Memories: Besides being a humor genius, Allan also voiced the Cat the in the Hat cartoon. Whatta guy. He has so many great songs, it’s hard to pick favorites. For me, though, the songs in which he truly shines are the traditional songs and anthems. Since they’d been around for so long, you’d think that all the funny would have been milked out of them, but he finds new laugh-life in the old standards,
- Favorite Songs: Harvey and Sheila, An Average Song, Mexican Hat Dance, Sir Greenbaum’s Madrigal, Sarah Jackman
- Bob Rivers Comedy Corp
- Known For: 12 Pains of Christmas
- Memories: The Bob Rivers group is best know for their Christmas album, that has a number of greats on it like I Am Santa Claus sung to Iron Man. But I’m not a huge Christmas fan, so prefer their more secular tunes. Often the ones leaning toward dark humor.
- Favorite Songs: Wrong Foot Amputated, Your Mouth is like Sam Kinison, A Big Ton o’ Moola, All My Songs are Spoken, Hey Kurt Nice Plot
- Carla Ulbrich
- Known For: The Guy Who Changes the Light Bulbs
- Memories: There was a time that I wasn’t sure Carla’s health would let her keep going, but she turned it in fuel for comedy, and became known as The Singing Patient. Her album Sick Humor and her book How Can You Not Laugh at a Time Like This are among my favorites. I usually call her “pancake girl” thanks to her Name song.
- Favorite Songs: I Got Tremors, A Name is a Name, The Force is the Force
- Tim Cavanagh
- Known For: 99 Dead Baboons
- Memories: When I saw Tim at a DPMA (Data Processing Management Association) meeting in the ’80s, I was the only guy in the audience shouting out requests. The meeting emcee gave out door prizes “worth well over $1,000,” so Tim brought out a bag of prizes worth “well over $7.” He gave out a rubber dog toy (“Do you have a rubber dog?”), and when I caught up with him after the show, there was still a prize in his bag, which he gave to me. An autographed box of prunes.
- Favorite Songs: I Wanna Kiss Her, Pistons, Dead Russian Leaders, Bible Outlet
- Da Yoopers
- Known For: Second Week of Deer Camp
- Memories: Da Yoopers have many originals, almost pushing them into the general funny music category instead of this list, but the parodies that they do have are some of my snowy favorites. Rusty Chevrolet has described most of the vehicles I’ve ever owned, Chevy or not.
- Favorite Songs: Rusty Chevrolet, Chiquito War, Fishin’ wit Fred, My Car Won’t Go