Hearsay: Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Laughing Fish?

This is no new news, but HearSay’s gonna lay it down on you, anyway: American humor just keeps getting dumber and dumber-er. While people are busting guts at the idiocy that’s Jackass, your columnist can hardly remember the last time it laughed — like, really laughed — at anything mainstream and billed as comedic. (Must’ve been Old School, though not because of Will Ferrell, whose annoying character was specifically built around the idea that because he’s played by Will Ferrell the plebes will laugh at anything he does — even if it’s deliver the most obvious jokes in the world. In music, maybe that one line in “Weird” Al Yankovic’s “Amish Paradise” during the breakdown: “Hitchin’ up the buggy / Churnin’ lots of butter / Raised a barn on Monday / Soon I’ll raise another.” In the lavatory library department, nothing mainstream — no David Sedaris, definitely no Nick Hornby — but absolutely some underground stuff like www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com, anything by Zadie Smith, Jonathan Safran Foer, or Neal Pollack, and Jeff Johnson’s weekly NFL picks column on www.mcsweeneys.net.) Thing is, the funny stuff to HearSay is unexpected, not obvious. As much as your writer loathes Jack Black (please save your money on The School of Rock), HearSay got a kick out of watching him repeatedly spit wine in another character’s face in an SNL skit last weekend. See, unexpected. Silly/smart. That’s the good shit.

All this, of course, is a roundabout way of talking about long-time Fort Worth-Dallas starlet Fishboy. OK. Calling yourself Fishboy is kinda like walking around with a “Please Kick Me ... Anywhere is Fine” sign sutured to your chin. Essentially, with a name like that, you’d better be “funny.” And not stupid funny. Smart funny. HearSay funny.

Fishboy’s recent release, Zipbangboom, doesn’t meet the standard, but it’s not without a couple of truly humorous moments. First, the sound. It’s lo-fi. Just a piano or acoustic guitar or horn (or kazoo) behind the ‘Boy’s really wimpy, high-pitched vocals. Campfire singalongs for hipper-than-thou college freshmen come to mind. “Carpet Diem (Russel’s Dream)” is brilliant, not for its sung parts, but for its pre-recorded bits of a young guy talking about doing improv comedy, likely without any idea he’s being recorded. (The way the young guy, in the middle of his story, re-enacts screaming by doing that gravelly whisper thing with his voice that we all do is priceless.) Love “Ray the Mover,” too. “And all the children on your block are playing foursquare in the street / And I would join them if I could / But I’ve been stuck inside this house all day, with Ray, and he’s freaking me out.” The “hit”: “Onomatopoeia.” It’s jangly, shiny, and accented by Tijuana Brass-ish trumpets. Nice melody, too.

All in all, Zipbangboom will likely make a lot of folks chuckle heartily —which, as we all now know, does not mean it’s “funny.” (Hit www.fishboymusic.com for more info.)

Contact HearSay at hearsay@fwweekly.com

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