Fred Armisen: Breaking Musical Models For Funny

(And His $5 Punk Rock Cover Shows)

Fred Armisen: Breaking Musical Models For Funny

Comedians play with social models to make us laugh. 

Great comedians see models everywhere. 

And they don’t even need to make us laugh with them. 

They still see the models. 

Take Fred Armisen. He started in music, and ended up in comedy. But within music, he was deeply aware of the models. 

So much so, that he doesn’t just make music jokes a regular part of his bits, he’s taken to doing a night of music covers at local spots. 

About 100 people show up on limited notice. He charges $5 at the door. The setlist is as punk as the ethics. 

What he says about these shows really caught my attention though (via Nate Rogers at The Ringer):

The idea with the Roadhouse shows, Armisen tells me, was that they would be a modern update of the lounge singer act. “It’s just pure nostalgia,” he says. “And it’s kind of the equivalent of what someone playing standards at a piano bar would be. In the ’70s, someone was playing all the standards from the ’40s. That’s what this should feel like.”

So he does the music he wants, in a model of a medium that’s both proven and lost to humanity, and it works. 

Play with models for a desired result.