Thursday, December 3, 2020

Martin Mull "No Hits, Four Errors"


(Capricorn, 1977) I never fully got my fellow RISD alum Martin Mull's deal. He was definitely funny in everything but I didn't super connect with his albums and I felt I had missed something, in part because I never got to see Fernwood 2Night, which I was convinced was a lost gem by the way trusted comedy fans discussed it. Well, after we lost Fred Willard earlier this year I found almost every episode on Youtube and it was worth the wait, Mull's character's smarm and disdain and guilt-free  relationship with ethics were a delight. Revisiting his greatest "hits" I actually had some revelations about his musical comedy. On "Jesus is Easy" and "Normal" Mull wonderfully takes a WASP-y view of the counterculture, one that Jewish comics couldn't really take, which is that he can just go back to comfortable status quo whenever he's done slumming. A little less impressive is his take on racial matters, as his "The Blacks Are Giving Me The Blues" is just awkward, and his "Santafly," is which he does a fake 70s soul falsetto, is problematic not only because he is doing vocal blackface, but because there are plenty of actual, legit, similar Soul Christmas records on the R&B charts, the idea that this is a ridiculous novelty just shows how disconnected he was from the music he was trying to parody. Sure Cheech and Chong did the same kind of joke with "Basketball Jones," but it at least demonstrated that they really knew the music they were riffing on. But that aside, some of these songs are really pleasantly pleasing (especially "Licks Off  My Records" and "Eggs") so I'm mulling moving Mull up to the next tier of comedy greats.

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