Kristen Schaal

A comedian checks out the work of her fellow CMJ artists.

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Photograph: Seth Olenick

CMJ Music Marathon, which begins Tuesday 19 and runs through October 23, features more than 1,200 bands sprawled across some 75 stages. In this muddle of bigheaded singers, unwashed drummers and ill-advised tattoos will stand a bold nonmusical performer: New York comedian Kristen Schaal—whose most prominent rock & roll position has been as Flight of the Conchords' overeager fan. Schaal, who leads a comedy showcase at Skirball Center October 21, sat down with TONY to sample songs by her fellow CMJ performers.


Ghostface Killah, "Stapleton Sex"


B.B. King Blues Club & Grill; Oct 22
Oh, my! Any lyric with pussy juice—I'm already a fan. [Pause] Is he telling the lady to shut the fuck up?

I believe so.
I'd hate to judge it without seeing the lyrics. Maybe he's telling the world to shut the fuck up. But I'm not gonna play this while I take my bubble baths.

You recently wrote The Sexy Book of Sexy Sex with your boyfriend, Rich Blomquist. Were people surprised to see that side of your personality?
Every set I've done has been sprinkled with some joke that veers towards the blue side of comedy. But this song? I don't find violence to be sexy.

Is there "sexy" music?
"Pour Some Sugar on Me" by Def Leppard is the sexiest song in the history of mankind. When I heard it in junior high, my ears were devirginized.

Buy music by Ghostface Killah on iTunes

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, "Contender"


Music Hall of Williamsburg; Oct 21
This is good music to listen to on the drive home from breaking up with someone.

Do you know the band?
I have an unfortunate catalog of music. Sometimes I'll be on a bill with a band and hang out with them for the whole night. I'll say, "Are you gonna see Of Montreal?" And the guy says, "I'm in the band." I'm mortified—mortified!

Increasingly, comedians are playing shows with musicians. What's the difference between an indie-rock audience and a comedy audience?
Rock audiences are more polite.

Buy music by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart on iTunes

 

Jenny and Johnny, "Scissor Runner"


Irving Plaza; Tue 19
I bet you they're a fun, frolicky couple.

They're a boyfriend and girlfriend who chose to collaborate—just like you and your coauthor.
There's lots of benefits to working with your significant other. You have nights together that maybe you wouldn't have had before. It sounds like Jenny and Johnny have the same sort of sensibilities in their art, which is probably what attracted them to each other in the first place.

What are the risks of collaborating?
In a relationship, you want to be unconditionally adored. When you create something together, you have to discriminate between good ideas and shitty ones. Maybe your boyfriend doesn't think a particular pussy joke is very funny. It's like, "I thought you loved me."

Buy music by Jenny and Johnny on iTunes

Reggie Watts, "Get Your Shoes On"


Comix; Oct 21
Skirball Center; Oct 21
Union Hall; Oct 23
Reggie's the most Dadaist comedian who's actually accessible and entertaining.

When did you first encounter him?
Five or six years ago. I saw him do a show, went up to him and was like, "Do you do drugs?" He said, "No." [Pause] Not that I was asking him if he had drugs. I just meant, where does this come from? Either way, we would be friends. His mind is so unique.

Have you ever seen him bomb?
I don't think it's possible for Reggie to bomb, 'cause he has this shield of music that he can push into the audience. He's a force.

Buy music by Reggie Watts on iTunes

 

Eli "Paperboy" Reed, "Young Girl"


(Le) Poisson Rouge; Oct 21
He's cute. I would like to go see him perform, just to see him do some turns.

His music seems frozen in time. Is comedy inherently more progressive than music?
It has be topical and reflect what's happening with society. Old jokes aren't funny. Try to do a joke from the future and you'll bomb. Comedians have always been jealous of musicians. They've got it easier.

Why? Because musicians don't have to write new material every night?
Yeah. I was listening to New Order and it sounded so good, like it was from the future. I didn't know who they were when I was a kid, though. I'm young thirties. I think old fifties is when my life's going to get very different.

How so?
I'm gonna have, like, a hundred grandkids.

Buy music by Eli "Paperboy" Reed on iTunes

Kristen Schaal and Friends' CMJ show is at Skirball Center Oct 21. Schaal also appears at 92Y Tribeca Thu 14, Union Hall Oct 23 and UCB Theatre Oct 25.

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