Joe Kwaczala: Funny Songs & Sketches.

Joe Kwaczala Delivers A Mix-Tape Of Hilarity On ‘Funny Songs & Sketches’

Joe Kwaczala is a gifted comedian both in terms of joke-writing and physicality, embellishing a punchline with a small lift of the leg onto a stool or eyebrow raise. That dexterity carries over in vocal performances and sideways thinking, as Kwaczala (a former ClickHole contributor) adapts an arch foppish accent to play a king, a Pittsburgh accent to imitate people from the county he grew up in, and an Eastern European accent to imitate exchange students. On his album, Funny Songs & Sketches, Kwaczala expertly puts his talents to work in crafting a variety of comedy gems that feel truly of his brain and sensibility.

Joe Kwaczala’s songs are both clever, pitch-perfect genre parodies and great examples of the faux-sincerity he uses to make his jokes hit.

Listening to “Unless You Die First,” a pitch-perfect parody in tone and phrasing of a run-of-the-mill Brad Paisley or Keith Urban song, it’s uncanny how much Kwaczala sounds like these singers. This is largely due to the fact that both make use of a certain exasperation in their recording, a fake sincerity played straight no matter what the subject. Here, the song follows Kwaczala’s character as his first wife dies. He meets his second wife, Calysta, an astronaut who will let him join her crew, and they travel to a far away planet and live in space, where Calysta dies. The third verse begs the question: “Is there intelligent life out there/ More important, are they hot?” Kwaczala’s character then copulates with an alien and dies. The punchline is presented as a chorus that mimics the same nasal, soaring double-tracked vocal as many country hits, and the only real reason this couldn’t slide into a genre playlist is because it doesn’t feature enough bars and trucks. 


Elsewhere, on “Since That Zombie Bit Me,” Kwaczala tackles the 80s goth and 2000s indie sound of groups like The Smiths, The Cure, and Talk Talk, complete with envelope-filter guitar twang and slow drums to maximize the moodiness. Here, the song doesn’t play out as just a silly joke, but manages to both make the primary joke (being bitten by a zombie) a genre reference to goth imagery, but also the subsequent joke (was I ostracized because of my zombie bite or because I’m insufferable) something that plays with the image of singers like Morrissey and Robert Smith in lines like ““That’s right, I do art….sometimes.” 


Over and over, Kwaczala figures out a way to engage with the genre in the funniest possible way for it to work on that music type’s terms. 

Kwaczala is a brilliant craftsman of the absurd, and has a great ear for phrasing.

In a radio advertisement about compensation for rideshare drivers who had a character named Jeff Chambouli as a passenger, Chambouli’s odd behavior is listed off, and includes things like “Sneeze in a manner that’s been described as sprinkler-style,” and “asking to use the aux cord and then just sucking on it like a straw.” here, Kwaczala and his cast of actors create a real-sounding ad that allows them to sneak in phrases like “sprinkler-style” and “like a straw” to push back against that reality and heighten the comedy. Sketch is a difficult thing, and audio sketch even more so, but Kwaczala has written these sketches carefully to keep them from falling apart or hitting a limiter with the jokes. One brilliant move in this ad sketch is to switch up physical acts of odd behavior for verbal ones like “name dropping Chris Angel, as well as his brother Craig Angel.” 


The sketches dial the absurdity up and down from there. Maxing it out is an ad for Pullman and Associates, a law firm that has a small court inside its offices for clients to practice and prepare for every scenario,“even the jury walking out because they all decided they want to get married to each other.” The visuals of the sketch are odd and funny already, but then there’s a twist revealing that there’s a smaller courtroom in the corner if you commit a crime in the practice courtroom, and that it has features like chairs covered in disease and a giant teenage judge with prison tweety emblazoned on his overalls. Here, the absurdity is maxed out by cleanly speeding up the odd reps without making them jump too much in their comedic language or logic. 


This ear for phrasing shows up again in “Unlightened,” a sketch advertising a  program designed to revert overeducated children back to being regular kids, with one method involving repeating stupid phrases like “I sat in barbecue sauce again,” and “I’m going to marry grandma.”  There’s such an astute ear for what is funny that it makes every second one to savor.

Kwaczala knows the limitations of a recurring character.

One of the biggest issues with albums of this kind is what running bits work, and which don’t. Too often, a sketch album will have several tracks of a conversation or scenario that doesn’t work at all, or, more likely, delivers diminishing returns that would have been better left off the record. Here, Kwaczala smartly only utilizes one character twice. His creation, Gulaf, an Eastern European weirdo idiot that doesn’t know what Michael Jordan looks like, only gets weirder and funnier as more information about him is revealed. Introduced in a dance-pop song written around the 90s trope of a woman wanting someone to go to her bedroom with her, Gulaf shows up as a potential cock-block that turns out to be a pervert with a penis that can turn blue like a smurf. Later, in a sketch called “Runner’s Group,” we learn he loves Imagine Dragons and imagining dragons, and that he wears blue jeans under breakaway pants. No detail is flat, and each builds a singular vision of an odd, odd character. 


On Funny Songs & Sketches, Kwaczala has truly delivered a delightful, hilarious take on a classic comedy genre.

Joe Kwaczala: Funny Songs & Sketches.
Joe Kwaczala: Funny Songs & Sketches.

Stream & download Joe Kwaczala's comedy album Funny Songs & Sketches available on 800 Pound Gorilla & everywhere you listen to comedy!

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