On the Surprising Heart of ‘The Comedy Jam’
The connection between musicians and comedians is long-established, with the idea often being that each group wants to be the other. Comedians long for the joy of being rock stars, while our favorite musicians often want people to know they’re funny. As Madonna’s disastrous attempt at standup proved, this trade-off does not always work out well. Thankfully, The Comedy Jam has proven to be a great chance for our favorite comics to momentarily transform themselves into Rock gods.
The premise is simple: a comedian takes the stage, tells a story about a song that means a lot to them (complete with a few self-deprecating jokes), then launches into that song with a full band behind them. Some of the best moments we’ve seen so far have been Tiffany Hadish’s rollicking rendition of Tina Turner’s version of “Proud Mary,” Chris Hardwick’s faithful rendition of “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and Fortune Feimster’s appropriately angry take on the Dixie Chicks’ “Goodbye Earl,” performed as a duet with lead singer Natalie Maines. The performances have all been heartfelt, and have revealed another side to many prominent comedians.
This can’t help but feel like the show that Lip Sync Battle could be, and probably should be. Sure, that show is a fun way to kill a half hour, but it’s mostly just a bunch of silliness. The Comedy Jam just has a lot more heart behind it. We can tell that these songs mean a lot to the comedians singing them, and we also can sense they joy the feel living out their rock star fantasy. Even for someone like Hardwick, who has made millions has a comedian and TV host, you tell it meant the world to him to pretend to be Jon Bon Jovi for a few minutes, and that can’t help but resonate. Comedy is an inherently cynical art form, but The Comedy Jam is just pure, uninhibited fun, and sometimes, we need that more than anything else.
The Comedy Jam airs on Comedy Central Wednesday nights at 10:00pm.