It’s no secret that we are living in uncertain times and we often need something to keep our spirits up. One of the things that helped me personally with this is comedy and laughter. Stand-up comedian and That Metal Show co-host Don Jamieson released his album Denim & Laughter a month ago, which has received high praise from fans and critics. I, Lotty Whittingham, spoke to him over Skype about recording Denim & Laughter, musicians being hilarious and some wisdom on how to keep laughing.
We’re here to talk about your comedy album Denim & Laughter, it was very funny. What made you want to record an album in a secret location with a small number of fans?
I did the album where I did it because I just wanted to do something different. I didn’t want to just do it in a comedy club and I figured it would be fun to do it. My buddy owns SpeakEasy in Los Angeles, which is literally an illegal club that the city knows nothing about and so we made it a special event. We had forty of my fans come to the show and we had a great time. I also figured it will be cool if we got raided during the show and they pulled me out in handcuffs, it would have made a great ending to the album. Unfortunately, we didn’t get busted.
As you said you had forty fans attend, how were they selected?
There was nothing normal about the whole night, which made it great. So, we did a Facebook event. We then told everyone that we would email them on the morning of the show and we will give them the address because we don’t want to give it out in advance otherwise the cops might have come and shut us down. It’s a cool venue with a great stage, a great sound system and a bar.
I do my albums in weird places; I did one in a rock club and I did another in a BYOB comedy club at Jersey Shore where I live. So, I try and do something a little bit different with each album just to get a different vibe of where I’m at.
What was it like in general recording this gig?
It was good. We drank a lot of beer and told some off-collar jokes. Nobody got offended, nobody walked out and nobody hash tagged me on social media. So, it was a bunch of adults in a room having a good laugh.
I understand with live albums, they record everything. Did anything get edited out or was the whole thing there?
It’s pretty much all in there, I had been working on the set for a few years. So, I had it down and I knew what worked and what didn’t. There were a couple of things that fell flat so we pretended that those never happened and took them out. There is a couple of bits where I even say “hey listen, I can edit the laugh in there if I wanted to”. We left some of the stuff that fell flat in there too because it was funny.
I suppose that makes it more authentic. I mean things will go wrong with live shows but we got to carry on.
Yes. I mean you go and see a band; you go see Iron Maiden or Judas Priest and they hit one wrong note you’re not going to say “oh this band’s shit, I’m leaving”.
At least in most cases, auto tune isn’t used and at least they perform live and don’t mime.
Right and I just want people to know I didn’t auto tune my album at all either. My comedy is much better out of tune.
When I interview bands, I usually ask them what influences their song writing. What influences do you draw upon to write your stand-up routines?
I just take stuff from my everyday life. If something aggravates me then that’s something I will usually write down and talk about. This album is the perfect combination between what I do in regular comedy clubs and night clubs and what I do when I go out on the road when I’m opening for bands. I try to mix the two together, so you’re going to get politics and relationships. I am also going to talk about Adam Levine’s nipples. You’re also going to get rock and roll type stuff too. It’s all stuff that goes on in my life over the last couple of years and it’s glad to get it purchased and get it out there.
One of my personal favourite tracks was when you talked about the GWAR show and still having fake blood stains on arm and shoes when flying back.
Yes, well that is a 100% true story. That’s one of the things nowadays, especially with people being so sensitive, I get more personal with my stories because I feel if you tell a personal story, you can get away with a lot more. As it’s not like just telling jokes for shock value, it’s stuff that’s happened to me. I have so many unique experiences in my life that I want to share with people. The GWAR story is all true and I was surprised they didn’t have TSA waiting for me when I got to the airport on the other side.
You present That Metal Show and interviewed a few bands. What has been your favourite interview so far?
I’d say Lemmy [Kilmister]. Lemmy’s my hero of life so anytime Lemmy came on the show was the greatest show for me. I didn’t care if he just sat there and smoked, that would still be the best interview that I have ever done. I miss the guy all the time so he is legend. I have lived my life through his lyrics for years, I always loved having Lemmy on the show.
You asked me about influences before, I had a lot of comedic influences like Andrew Dice Clay and George Carlin. A lot of musicians inspired me comedically too, like Lemmy always had these great and funny sayings. Ozzy [Osbourne] is always great with the one liners. Even with all his health problems today, he can still muster up a great one liner. David Lee Roth was always this crazy stream of consciousness; he was like the Robin Williams of Rock Music. A lot of musicians are hilarious too.
Going back to you opening up for bands, do you make sure your routines included jokes about them in some way?
Yes, I usually make fun of who I’m opening up for in the first ten minutes of the show. I usually start the tour off with a couple of jokes and then as we go on, I learn more about them because I go on the tour bus with these bands. You learn a lot about people when you’re stuck in a tube with them 24/7. All that stuff ends up coming on stage with me too. So usually by the end of the tour, a whole set is about the band I am opening for.
Given you’re into rock and metal music as we have discussed, are there any bands on your radar that you would recommend?
I don’t know if they are on the radar over there [UK] but in America, there’s band from New Jersey called Crobot. They have very cool seventies vibe. There’s a band from Nashville called East Side Gamblers, that’s Tony Higgbees’ band. He was the guitarist for Tom Keifer’s first band. There’s a band from California called Them Evils, they have that same seventies high energy rock and roll sound. That’s what I have been listening to lately. No Bieber.
We’re living in uncertain times; do you have any tips on how to keep laughing?
Well, the first thing you should do is buy Denim & Laughter out on Metal Blade Records. That’s probably the safest thing you can do. Then disinfect your stereo, put the album in and then sanitise your hands afterwards. Make sure you wear one of those painter masks whilst you’re listening to it because your laughing will be so uproarious that flem, spit and all sorts will come out of your mouth. You don’t want to infect others whilst laughing at my album. Just being practical.
Thank you, Don, for speaking to Rock Out Stand Out and hoping we see you in the UK soon.