Recipe for a Paula Deen Parody
Being funny is hard, because funny is subjective. You have to catch people at the right time, in the right mood, with the right line. Radio shows and hosts across the country attempt humor everyday – many fail. Somehow, along the way, we’ve confused the idea of “entertainment” with “comedy’ (but that’s another blog for another day.) Many of these shows are producing parody songs. Bravo. That takes some guts. Not only are you trying to be funny, but you’re singing. Good Lord, are you insane?
Let me tell you a story.
I almost didn’t get my first radio job out of college, because of a parody song. I sent the wrong demo tape to the PD and instead of my awesome DJ-ing at Solid Rock 101 – WOBN, it was me…singing…a very bad rendition of New Edition’s “Cool It Now” to parody lyrics about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, which I cleverly titled, “Kill It Now.” When I called the PD to see if he received my air-check and resume, he said, “Wait a second, Gifford?”
“Yes!” I said excitedly.
“Hold on.” I could hear him rummaging through some cassettes. He plopped one into his boom box and said, “Is this you?” and he held the phone up to the speaker and I heard myself singing back at me. It was horrible. It wasn’t funny. It was six months after the Dahmer story.
I was mortified.
I actually – true story – blamed my Mom. Swear to God.
I was hired by this guy under one condition, “You can NEVER go on the air.” I took it.
And I never sang a parody song again…
…as far as you know.
That brings me to Paula Deen. I stumbled across Bobby Bones Show parody of Paula Deen. The only thing that impressed me was that they wrote the song based on tweets from listeners. What a great way to use social media and engage fans. It’s how I found out about it. Listeners were re-tweeting the song, because he used their lyrics. Woo hoo!!
It’s also the problem. Here, listen.
Now, I know what you’re going to say. SOMEONE thought it was funny. Sure, I get it. There are no rules for funny.
Except… there are. Kind of.
Here is my easy-down-home-cooking recipe for parody song success also known as THE GIFFORD LAWS OF PARODY; which I’ve likely stolen from someone.
Rule #1 The more timely the parody, the less funny it has to be and the less polished the performance needs to be. By timely, I mean minutes and hours from the event or catalyst of the parody, not days.
Rule #2 Funny can mean anything; a chuckle, a chortle, a snort, a knee-slap, LOL, or a guffaw. The less funny your parody, the more timely it needs to be and the more polished the performance should be.
Rule #3 The better the performance; the singing, the imitation, the production value — the more entertaining it will be. Period.
Rule #4 Less is more. Don’t parody an entire song unless your name is Weird Al Yankovic. Singing a verse or two and the chorus is more than enough. The longer your parody, the less funny it becomes and the more chances it has to fail. Write the parody as you want it and then edit it. Cut it in HALF! (Keep the best jokes.)
Here are two parody songs about Paula Deen, featured on Episode 7 of the Radio Stuff Podcast, that I think are top notch.
Paula Deen is a Candle in the Wind by the 98.7 KLUV Morning Choir
Not everyone is going to have the production facilities to duplicate this kind of quality, but everyone should strive to be as funny and relevant.