When Dan Soder called The Goddam Comedy Jam “the best show at this festival” while introducing the show’s creator Josh Adam Meyers on The Bonfire, he was not just blowing smoke up Josh’s ass. He meant it, and you could tell the other comedians and festival attendees felt the same. Joe List, Ari Shaffir, Sarah Tollemache, Andy Fiori, Sean Donnelly, Jake Knight, Langston Kerman and Mark Normand were spotted in the crown on multiple nights and about half the audience at the jam packed Saturday finale went nuts when Josh asked “Who has been to the show before?”
The Jam had a whopping three shows at the festival and the crowd grew each night as word spread about what a fun party it is. If you aren’t already familiar, The Goddam Comedy Jam lets comedians realize their dream come true of being actual rockstars. Each performer does a set and then performs a song backed by The Goddam Band (which is a slightly enhanced version of LA’s Elemenopy). And this isn’t just karaoke night, the comics each chose a song with meaning to them and rehearse with the band ahead of time, so while Josh always warns the crowd “these are not professional singers” it usually doesn’t feel that way.
Over the course of the festival, the crowds were wowed by GDCJ vets Matteo Lane, Big Jay Oakerson, Joe Derosa and Adam Ray. They got to see awesome songs from The Sklar Brothers and Jon Rudnitsky, and even enjoy the surprising and special treat of Janeane Garofalo performing her favorite obscure Monkees song (and reminding us all that Mike Nesmith’s mom invented white-out). But two performances really stood out (even among those giants) – Brad Williams and Fahim Anwar. Brad channelled Kid Rock on Friday night for a rendition of Bawitdaba that had the whole place on their feet and plenty of people (including Dan Soder and Big Jay Oakerson) moshing like it was 1998. Saturday Night, Fahim Anwar wowed the crowd with his footwork and dead on MJ for a killer Billie Jean.
Inspired (and a little intimidated) by what they saw, I asked the handful of comedians who still haven’t performed on it, what they would sing if they got the chance.
Mark Normand: I don’t know how to answer! Anything where I have to choose something, I’m so indecisive. I could look at a diner menu for like a week! It’s eight pages!
Andy Fiori: I have been waiting for this question my entire life, actually. I would do Talking Heads, but I’d go a little obscure, but maybe Psycho Killer would be fun. They’re all such big and boasting songs, it would be great.
Joe List: Oh, I think Hurts So Good by John Cougar, at the time. It’s a fun one and it’d be sexy. First he was Johnny Cougar, then it was just John Cougar and then he became John Cougar Mellencamp. One of the best experiences I’ve ever had, I saw John Mellencamp on September 13, 2001 so no one had left their house for two days. Then he played Pink Houses (you know “Ain’t That America”) and people went ape shit. One guy walked through the aisles with an American flag like he was Hulk Hogan. Everyone was just saluting and hugging, I had full on goosebumps for ten minutes.
Ari Shaffir: I’d have to do something like Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel or Hava Nagila, something ridiculous.
Sean Donnelly: I was trying to think of this all weekend because I’ve been going to them and I’m so excited. I’m thinking Just a Friend by Biz Markee because everybody knows the words and you can just talk that song more than sing it.
Dan Soder: (without hesitation, almost before I finished the question) Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden.
If you live in LA and haven’t seen The Goddam Comedy Jam at it’s home, The Lyric Theater, get your tickets immediately. If you’re anywhere else, you’ll get the chance as GDCJ continues around the festival circuit. Next stop of Bonaroo June 9-12.