I’m always flattered when people remember my old stuff, so when a YouTube user asked about my song “Too Much Information” I decided to post a clip of it.
The user had seen it on the Comedy Central Show Hi Fi Party, which was a music and comedy concert Comedy Central produced in 1998, hosted by Isaac Hayes and Sandra Bernhard and featuring comedy musicians like me, Stephen Lynch, and more, and bands like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Meatloaf. Meatloaf! (I just checked the IMDB page for Hi Fi Party and see that I’m not listed amongst the cast, an industry slight 17 years in the making!)
The special was taped at the Roseland Ballroom in N.Y.C. (R.I.P.) where they had two stages set up and large, circular banquet tables in the audience as if it were a nightclub, or a comedy-themed wedding reception. A few of the bands played jump/swing music—which was enjoying a revival in the 1990s—and the producers had recruited some swing dancers who wore 40s/50s clothes to dance in the crowd during the bands’ sets. The dancers sat and watched politely during the comedy portions of the show and in hindsight I wished I had had time to arrange jump versions of my tunes. You know, for kicks, baby!
At this point I had been living in New York about 2 years and was really excited to be taping my second TV appearance (I also appeared on the first season of Comedy Central’s Premium Blend). Even more exciting was to be on the same show as Isaac Hayes, a cultural icon from the 1970s who was becoming known as Chef on South Park. The hosts alternated introduction duties so my intro fell to Sandra Bernhard, who introduced me in her trademark deadpan, I’m-annoyed-to-be-here disposition.
I played the song “Too Much Information” which had been going over really well in the clubs at that time, and the expression, along with its initialized “TMI” hadn’t been overused in popular culture yet. The song was inspired by actual events from my first month in NYC. I was waiting for a set at Surf Reality on the Lower East Side and I ducked into a bar on Ludlow Street (in 1996 Ludlow only had a couple of open bars and on Sunday nights they were pretty empty). There was a cute young woman at the bar who struck up a conversation with me and in a matter of only a few minutes I knew about the meds she was taking, the boyfriend back in the Midwest she moved to New York to get away from, and way too much about her family history. She wasn’t the first (or last) to lay TMI on me, but it was my most blatant experience with the phenomenon and it inspired me to turn it into entertainment.
The above clip is not from Hi Fi Party but from a show I did at Catch a Rising Star the same year. At the time Catch was on 28th Street near F.I.T. and they had a weekly music show called The Big, Bad Music Show, which was a godsend for someone like me who played guitar and got grief for doing so from many of the other comedy clubs in the city. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to watch video of myself from so long ago but other times it brings back fond memories. When I see this clip I remember the fun I had at the Big, Bad Music show, which featured other really great music and comedy acts like the Irwin Smalls Trio, Stephen Lynch, Jason Nash, Emmy Laybourne and more.