Don Jamieson: I’m Glad to Be Part of Bringing Metal Comedy Back
Comedian Don Jamieson was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show. The former That Metal Show host is currently promoting his latest comedy album, Denim and Laughter, and he took some time to speak with Jackie about the crossover of comedy and metal.
Don also shares how metal has informed his own comedy, discusses some of the funniest musicians he's been influenced by and comments on what he's picked up from being on the road and performing sets on tour with rock bands. Check out the chat below.
Don Jamieson’s latest comedy album is called Denim and Laughter, and it’s out now. Comedy and rock and roll really became re-acclimated with your success on That Metal Show. What changed most about your audience and your act once comedy started being branded as metal?
It took a little while, but you started to see more like camo shorts and Slayer t-shirts and dudes with long hair and bullet belts. Things like that were creeping into the audience along with the khakis and the blue button-ups and stuff. So yeah, it brought definitely more of what I call my people to the shows, which is cool. It’s always been a good mix, I think, the rock and the comedy. It was back in the late '80s, early '90s, and then it was so not cool for probably 20-25 years. So I'm glad to be hopefully a little part of bringing it back.
With the title of this album, it’s obviously a play on the classic Saxon album. Other than titles, what ways have the dynamics of classic metal records informed your own albums?
I think besides having influences by other comedians, you know George Carlin, Cheech and Chong, Andrew Dice Clay and guys like that, a lot of my comedic influences are rock guys. Some of the funniest people in the world are rock musicians. If you’ve ever seen an interview with Alice Cooper, oh he has a killer story about Elvis Presley pulling a gun on him or whatever. And he never tells the same story twice, he always has a killer punchline. I used to say he was like the Bill Cosby of Metal, but that’s probably not a good comparison anymore, but he's just a great storyteller.
You have David Lee Roth, who’s like the Robin Williams of rock music. He just goes off on these crazy streams of consciousness tangents where you don’t even know what he’s saying half the time but you just find yourself laughing. So, it was really a lot of rock guys who influenced me comedically. Pete Steele from Type O Negative, just you know, he was very dry -- one-liners, very self-deprecating. I always found the humor there as well as obviously them being mega rockstars in my eyes.
Don Jamieson, "She's Only Seventeen" from Denim and Laughter
Don, you built a career both onstage yourself and behind the scenes writing for other people. How did writing for other comedians empower your own act?
Well, the good thing is right now, cause there are no more gigs to be done until we get through this virus stuff so it’s strengthened really my writing skills to where, people ... I just got a call today from somebody who wants me to write for a new series. It’s been good because it keeps the income flowing when the gigs are drying up.
In terms of just my act, it really forces you to sit down and churn out a big amount of material with a deadline, because I tend to, when I’m just writing for myself, it’s just sort of waiting for the napkins and scraps of paper to reach a certain height, and then I go, "Yeah, alright, I should probably do something with this mess."
Some people listen to music when they create. Stephen King, for example, will put on AC/DC and Metallica. What bands fuel your creativity while working on new material?
I usually try to write, actually, when it’s quiet, so that’s probably not a great question for me. But if I really need something to kick me in the balls, Motorhead you can never go wrong with. I like to put on some Thin Lizzy now and again. You know Phil [Lynott]’s poeticism and his lyrics are very inspiring. Bon Scott’s era AC/DC -- Bon always had such a great turn of a phrase and away with putting words together. So if I have music on, it’d be stuff like that.
You often tour as the opening act for hard rock and metal bands. What was your biggest lesson about maintaining professionalism in the company of your musical heroes?
I’m usually the most professional one on the tour bus, so I think they’re learning from me. I think it’s really respecting the musicians, their space, I’m in their home when I’m on the tour bus. So you very quickly learn the rules that apply to every bus; no crapping on the bus, things like this, those things they’re a standard issue, but if I go out with Pop Evil, they have a different sort of way of living on the bus than Zakk Wylde does. They shower more, Zakk doesn’t, we know this.
You just kind of find the rhythm of who you’re out with. I think everybody I’ve gone out with, I’ve been a fan of and I’ve kind of known a bit. It’s been a pretty easy adjustment and it’s just super fun because as a comedian, we don’t have that brotherhood of being in a band and going city to city and yeah, alright tomorrow we kick Milwaukee’s ass, so I kind of get all that but without any of the sort of drama of actually being in a band.
Thanks to Don Jamieson for the interview. His 'Denim and Laughter' album is currently available at this location. Follow Don on Facebook and Twitter and find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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