Great Musical Jokes

March 18, 2012 by  

I was just listening to my iPod in shuffle mode as I scanned the various job boards (yup, another statistic…) when a wonderfully wacky recording of Jonathan and Darlene Edwards performing/murdering the old warhorse I Love Paris, popped up.

Murdering? It’s almost physically painful to listen to Jonathan and Darlene–because the performances are so gawd-awful bad, but at the same time are side-splittingly funny–especially if you are in on the joke. First, there’s the singing…if you can call it that. Almost never on the beat and almost always off key, Ms. Edwards, while an enthusiastic performer, is bad beyond words. Then there’s her accompanist, husband Jonathan Edwards. Talk about never on the beat! I think he was quoted once saying “who says you can only put four beats in a 4-beat measure? What’s wrong with five or six?” The botched runs and wrong notes just accentuate the incredible badness Mr. Edwards brings to the musical scene.




In reality, Jonathan and Darlene Edwards were the creation of the talented (and twisted) minds of famed pop singer of the 40s and 50s, Jo Stafford, and her equally talented husband, bandleader and arranger Paul Weston. They began doing these performances (?) at parties in the Los Angeles area, to the extreme delight of the guests. You know, they’re so bad, they’re still bad. You have to really know what you’re doing, musically, to be that bad. Their impromptu performances caught the attention of one of their friends, a Hollywood record producer, who encouraged them to put out an album of these fractured performances. By their second album, they had won a Grammy for best comedy record (the only Grammy Jo Stafford ever won).

Jo and Paul built a complete personna around Jonathan and Darlene, who supposedly lived in one of the spare rooms at the Weston home in Beverly Hills, while looking for work (and hopefully taking music lessons from the Westons).

If any of you have ever seen that delightful 1970s collection of blackouts and sight gags known as Kentucky Fried Movie, you will recognize Ms. Edwards’ singing the tune The Carioca during the opening and closing credits.

Jo Stafford was no stranger to novelty recordings, having done roaringly funny hillbillied-up renditions of Temptation…er…Tim-tayshun, and Them Durn Fool Things. Those might be a little harder to locate, but worth it just the same.

There were at least two compilations released on CD on the Corinthian label, and are also available at Amazon.com. Here you can hear such delightfully awful renditions of everything from I Love Paris to Autumn in New York to Stayin’ Alive.

Buy the CDs today, and may God have mercy on your soul.