Nine unexpected musician-comedian crossovers you need to know
02.09.2020

Nine unexpected musician-comedian crossovers you need to know

Words by Alex Callan

Buckle up, we're going in.

Music and comedy have long intertwined as art forms; from the likes of ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic parodies to Bill Bailey’s classic Rammstein inspired rendition of ‘Scarborough Fair’, it’s fair to say stand-up comedy audiences are quite partial to a little bit of music thrown into a live set.

But how many musicians have tried their hand at stand-up comedy? How many comedians have pursued a legitimate career in music? These are the answers Forte wants to find out.

For this list, we have specifically excluded comedians who utilise music as a key aspect of their stand-up. Sorry to say you won’t be seeing the likes of Zach Galaflankis and Tim Minchin.

Donald Glover/Childish Gambino

While this may be the most obvious choice on the list, Childish Gambino has truly set the mark for comedian turned musician; to be honest he tries his hand in that many different projects it wouldn’t surprise me if he has a presidential campaign in future.

Starting out on ‘Derrick Comedy’ (*language warning), a skit show Glover collaborated on in College, he was quickly headhunted by Tina Fey to begin work as a writer for ‘30 Rock’ by age 23. While his on screen fame skyrocketed due to roles in ‘Community’, ‘The Lion King’ and ‘The Martian’, Glover was also earning his stripes as a Multi-Grammy Winning Recording artist.

It may be common knowledge now that Glover leads a double life as musician/actor, but believe me, when he hit the Big Day Out stage in 2013, opening with ‘Bonfire’ I was in absolute shock that I was seeing the guy from Derrick Comedy belting out hard hitting bars.

For now, enjoy a snippet from Donald Glover’s Stand-Ups Show Weirdo.

Tom Gaynor/Allday

Starting out in the punk band ‘sissycunt’ and later becoming one of Australia’s most known rappers, Tom Gaynor AKA Allday has really done a lot for a 29 year old. Being the only Australian act to ever impress Sway Calloway (that being said, his only competition has been the infamous Iggy Azalea freestyle), the multi AIR Award Nominee is now based out of LA.

But back in 2011, the baby-faced Tom Gaynor was attempting to make a name for himself in the stand-up comedy circuit.

Maya Rudolph

Being one of the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of comedians who have burst into stardom as a result of their spot on SNL (Saturday Night Live), Maya Rudolph is the nest on our list of comedians with hidden music talents.

Famously starring in ‘Grown Ups’, ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘The Good Place’, Rudolph has earned the title of being a bonafide comedian, but behind the scenes she is an accomplished singer with an absolutely beautiful voice.

Check out her rendition of Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros ‘Home’.

Hugh Laurie

You may be questioning why Hugh Laurie is on this list.

Well, before he was the cane straddled, drug addicted doctor House, Laurie was an up and coming comedian. Starring in the English comedy show ‘Fry and Laurie’ alongside the acclaimed Stephen Fry, Laurie earned his fame as a comedian before delving into more serious on screen roles.

On top of acting, comedy and writing books, Laurie is an incredible pianist and vocalist, with an absolutely mesmerising husky voice.

Jason Schwartzman

When doing research for this article, this is the one that surprised me the most.

Being a famous ‘that guy’, Schwartzman was in what felt like the majority of the early 2000’s indie films. With roles in films such as ‘Rushmore’ and revered cult TV shows such as ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ and ‘Freaks and Geeks’, Schwartzman is most known for his acting roles.

But before his career in film really took off, he was the drummer in Phantom Planet. That’s right. The band that did ‘The OC’ theme song. Catch him in the film clip below.

John Mayer

This is not a typo. John Mayer actually tried his hand at stand-up comedy. In archive footage from the Laugh Factory, Mayer delivers a unique and for the most part unfunny set about Paedophiles and Dateline. It’s a good thing he has a house filled with Grammys because he’s the one person on the list who maybe shouldn’t give up their day job.

Reggie Watts

Now I know Reggie Watts uses music as part of his comedy routine and that technically disqualifies him from this list. However, when Watts records or performs live using only his voice, a keyboard and a looping system, there are zero comedic elements involved.

In fact, Watts makes music that I’m surprised doesn’t get more radio play.

With two studio albums and two live albums under his belt, Watts has also appeared as a guest vocalist in songs by other artists, famously in 2014 alongside Australian electro duo Flight Facilities.

Steve Martin

Steve Martin has to be one of the most loveable guys in Hollywood. All you have to do is compare his Golden Globe award opening speech to any of Ricky Gervais’ to see that Steve is more so on the PG side of comedy. As is his music, which takes the form of Banjo orientated bluegrass.

Being a banjo player since a young age the esteemed actor has gone on to win countless Grammys, an excellence award in ‘Banjo and Bluegrass’ as well as Platinum album sales.

John C Reilly

It may not be a surprise that John C Reilly made this list. Not only did he win an Oscar for his role in the 2002 musical ‘Chicago’, he has also dabbled in a bunch of music-based acting roles including Tenacious D’s ‘The Pick Of Destiny’ as a Sasquatch and in the parody of ‘Walk The Line’, ‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.”

Reilly has continued to utilize his singing in animations such as 2012’s ‘Sing’, but for most readers he will still always be associated with comedy classics like ‘Step Brothers’ and ‘Talladega Nights’.