Spike Jonze, Michael Gondry, Jonathan Glazer, Anton Corbijn- these guys are pretty much the gold-standard for music video direction; they can be quirky, deep or emotional, depending on a band’s sound.
But sometimes, especially if you’re an indie band, all that’s needed is a comedian’s touch. They could be friends of the band, or hired because bring they a certain aesthetic appeal. Either way, the results are often hilarious.
In honour of the release of Eric Wareheim’s music video for the Beach House song “Wishes”– in which Ray Wise lip-syncs the song during a bizarre sporting event- here are eight other videos directed by comedians (or ‘comedians’, depending on your opinion).
1. Tekken, Muse’s “Exogenesis Part 3 (Redemption)”
Apparently, Tekken is a Japanese comedian; but watching this music video- which he animated without permission, but fans and eventually Muse liked it so much they made it the official video- you would think he was a poet.
2. Tom Scharpling, New Pornographers’ “Move”
Scharpling, best known for his comedy call-in show on the Jersey radio station WFMU and one half of the duo Wurster-Scharpling, has directed a number of videos for indie bands, including Titus Andronicus, Wild Flag, and Real Estate. In this New Pornographers’ video, Tom gets a number of his friends and fellow comedians- including Jon Wurster, Ted Leo, Wyatt Cenac, Kevin Corrigan, John Oliver, Julie Klausner, etc., etc.- to tell the story of the rise of the band, from playing the streets of Canada to stardom.
3. Peter Serafinowicz, Hot Chip’s “I Feel Better”
British comic Peter Serafinowicz doesn’t make this a comedy skit like Scharpling, instead going all-out weird in this music video about an…alien? Invading a boy band concert? It’s better if you just watch it yourself.
4. The Sklar Brothers, the Sheepdogs “The Way It Is”
Comedy duo and podcasters the Sklar Brothers take the country-fried sounds of the Sheepdogs and score it to a video of them destroying a Little League baseball team. Bonus: comedian and fellow Canuck Jon Dore stars as the kids’ apoplectic coach.
5. Bob Odenkirk, Rogue Wave’s “Chicago X 12”
Odenkirk, of Mr. Show and Breaking Bad fame, tries to be creative with cardboard cutouts of the band, but they have none of it. Not enough yelling, Bob.
6. David Cross, The Black Keys’ “10 am Automatic”
Along with the aforementioned Bob Odenkirk, he was part of the genius work that is Mr. Show, but is better known to audiences as Tobias Funke. Here, he has the Black Keys play the musical interlude for a Jewish religious show on a cable access channel.
7. Scott Jacobson, Nick Lowe’s “Sensitive Man”
Jacobson has accomplished a lot as a comedy writer- currently writing for Fox’s animated sitcom Bob’s Burgers, he has four Emmys as part of the Daily Show staff. In this video, he tries to get comedian/podcaster/angry man Marc Maron to show a little affection in a sensitivity class led by Eric Wareheim’s partner in crime Tim Heidecker.
8. Michael Moore, Rage Against the Machine’s “Sleep Now in the Fire”
He’s a comedian, right? Well, whether or not you find him funny or informative, you can agree he at least tries to make you laugh. In this RATM video, Moore has the band perform just outside the New York Stock Exchange, and while Moore argues with some police about having the correct permits, the NYSE shuts down. All this cut between a faux-Who Wants to Be a Millionaire show called Who Wants to Be Filthy F#&%ing Rich. Say what you will about his subtlety, it sure is entertaining.