As any good peeler will know Dan Clark is performing a short run of his new show These Songs May Contain Jokes from 2nd-5th May at the Soho Theatre in London. We were lucky enough to grab a cuppa and a slice of cake with Dan as he was starting rehearsals for the show. Velveteer Mog reports:
Dan Clark is the kind of bloke mothers wish their daughters would bring home: slightly dashing, well-spoken, a hint of tweedy academia – all neatly wrapped up in boyish charm. My Mum’s loss is Dan’s gain.
The day we meet he’s fizzing with excitement about his new live show, having embarked on rehearsals with his band the previous evening. “It was so good, so good!” he beams.
Dan explains why this show differs from previous ones: “The tour (in 2011) was 70% stand-up but this one is mainly music. I had a huge number of songs, some of which I’ve never done before, some that I did in the show last year and some from the TV show – but I needed to make them feel different. We’ve completely reworked them, so even though the lyrics and the jokes are the same they feel very different.”
For the new show the musical partnership of Dan and Ben Parker (“A master of melody and harmony”) has been extended to include bass player, Jimmy Sims (“He’s brilliant and he really gets comedy”) and drummer Johnny de’Ath (“An amazing professional musician who tours with loads of bands”).
I ask Dan how the writing process plays out now that he’s working with a full band. “They’re all my songs that I go in to play to them,” he explains, “With some of them I’ve got a clear idea of what I can hear at different points, and then at other times I’m like, ‘Here’s the song, what do you think?’ There was one last night that we ended up doing completely differently to how I’d imagined it, and it came to life. I was literally buzzing afterwards – I got to fulfil my rock star fantasies!” His enthusiasm for this project is palpable. He goes on to describe a song he wrote only last week, which will feature in the show: “Ben told me it was the best song I’d ever written so I was beaming with pride. Playing it last night was so much fun – there’s a guitar solo, a drum solo…it’s proper cheesy rock n roll!” Dan looks genuinely delighted.
The enthusiasm with which he talks about These Songs May Contain Jokes leads me to ask if he has plans to tour the show. He says that although he’d love to take it to other cities, sadly it’s not financially viable, and he doesn’t want to scale it down. “If you see the show you’ll see why. I think it feels special – it just has a really good vibe about it.” He says.
© Ben Meadows
So who are the other music/comedy acts that Dan relates to? He cites Flight of the Concords and Tenacious D as examples of artists who strike a balance between being funny with being genuinely musical: “All of our songs are written as comedy but because of the nature of the melodies and chords they don’t sound like ‘comedy jazz hands’…they’re not wacky” Dan explains, waggling his elbows…wackily, by way of illustration. ”They’re all written like I was writing a serious pop song. If you can get a few belly laughs out of a song whilst you’re also caught up in the music it’s brilliant. I’ve got a handful of songs that have managed to achieve both!” He laughs.