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Rob’s Blog

New Site Design!

We finally pulled the trigger and pushed our site redesign live! There are still some bugs to work out, some of our “load more posts” buttons don’t seem to be working, but a lot of the new pages are here and ready to go. And if you’re looking for an older post that you can’t find, fear not! It’s sill in our database, we just need to get all the links and buttons pointing to the right things.

Give us a few days to get things running smoothly, and after that if there are posts or things you’re looking for that you can’t find or access, let us know and we’ll do our best to track it down.

Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the new site!

Laissez Les Chansons Droller!

OK, I think I just made up a French verb, but it doesn’t matter because everyone speaks the universal language of Music With Funny Lyrics But If You Don’t Understand Them You Can Still Enjoy the Music!

I had a wonderful time doing shows in Switzerland and Paris, and catching up with my longtime friend Jen Kirwin, an American comic who runs several English language Expat Comedy Nights in and around Geneva, Switzerland.

My first show was the day after I landed (and was still pretty jet-lagged) at Mr. Pickwick Pub in Geneva. The English-style pub is a haven for expats and the downstairs showroom was a perfect spot for a night of English language comedy. Sharing the bill with me were Magda Mihalia, a very funny Romanian comedian who performs in English, French, and Romanian; Robbie Toole, an American currently living in Geneva; Marie Connolly, an Australian comic who now makes her home in Lyon, France; and Jen.

On stage at Mr. Pickwick Pub in Geneva, Switzerland
On stage at Mr. Pickwick Pub in Geneva, Switzerland

The crowd was a lot of fun and included people from several countries, not just the English-speaking world. As a performer it was interesting to see the different levels of English comprehension and how it affected my set. I have a few songs where the lyrics are rapped rapid-fire so I tended to slow down as much as I could without changing the groove of the music from pop track to ballad. One person, an Italian I think, said after the show that he couldn’t understand everything but even when he couldn’t he enjoyed the music. Totally made lugging my guitar across the Atlantic worth it!

Train of High Speed!
Train of High Speed!

The day after my first show I hopped a train to Paris, and not just any train, one of those fancy high speed ones! Got to Paris in 3 hours, spent a lovely weekend there and did a set on an English language monthly show called The Great British American Comedy Night! There were 5 comics in the lineup, 2 French, 2 Americans currently living in Paris, and me, and the crowd was packed into a cozy showroom on a boat docked in the Seine.

A peek at the Jardin Sauvage stage before the crowd arrived for the Great British American Comedy Night
A peek at the Jardin Sauvage stage before the crowd arrived for the Great British American Comedy Night

The crowd was energetic and amazing and it was a truly unique experience.

Then it was back to Switzerland and another Expat show with Jen and Magda, this time in a lovely music room called the Bleu Lézard, in Lausanne, Switzerland. They call these basement rooms “caves” (pronounced “kaaahve”) and the Bleu Lézard was my favorite of the bunch. Even though my voice was a little scratchy from a long weekend in Paris I had a blast performing.

The cave at the Bleu Lézard in Lausanne, Switzerland, pre-show
The cave at the Bleu Lézard in Lausanne, Switzerland, pre-show

And here’s a short clip from that show, unlisted on YouTube just for you guys. I opened with a very old bit of mine about the Friends TV show’s theme song, but even though that joke is pushing 20 years old it was a great opener for the international crowd because not only was/is the show popular in Europe, the bit was a good gauge of people’s familiarity with American English!

Me, onstage at the Caustic Comedy Club in Carouge, Switzerland! Photo by Jen Kirwin :-)
Me, onstage at the Caustic Comedy Club in Carouge, Switzerland! Photo by Jen Kirwin 🙂

And rounding out the performances on the trip was a Valentine’s-themed show at the Caustic Comedy Club in Carouge, Switzerland, just outside of Geneva. Caustic is a beautiful and friendly club and the showroom is another amazing “cave.”

I hope to get back to Europe soon for more shows and to hit these spots again, and check out the photo gallery above for some other pics from the trip, including the invasion of Brooklyn hipness into downtown Geneva!

Got Some Dope New Promo Shots!

Thanks to the very talented Jon Taylor I have some great new press and promo shots to share! We did some charactery portraits, some actory portraits, and some shots with the guitar and I love ’em all!

I’m sure my fellow performers know how tricky it can be to get a good headshot or promo shot—one that captures your personality and conveys something about your work. I think Jon really captured some great moments and looks. Look for the new pics in a new show flyer, poster, or real estate bench ad soon!

Thank you Jon Taylor Photo!

The Fake Band Trivia Challenge!

Are you ready to test your fake band knowledge? The Fake Band Trivia Challenge draws questions from 50 years of fictitious bands from movies, TV, and print! That’s half a century of fake bands!

There are 3 rounds of 11 questions. Yes, because these rounds GO TO ELEVEN! But I couldn’t even stop there, there are a few bonus points available in each round, so the total possible points are: Round 1: 15 possible pts; Round 2: 17 possible points; Round 3: 16 possible points; for a grand total of 48 possible points!

This challenge was created for my monthly variety show at QED in Astoria—The Odd Rock Comedy Hour, which I renamed the SHAM Rock Comedy Hour for St. Patrick’s Day—and the winning team took the crown with 20 points.

Will you do better? Will you hate me for leaving out your favorite fake band? Only one way to tell! Grab some paper to write down your answers and good luck!

Start the challenge with Round 1!

It started with a pun, now we’re here!

I’ve accidentally embarked on the quest to create the most epic fake band trivia challenge ever!! It started as a play on words—“Sham Rock” instead of “Odd Rock” Comedy Hour to acknowledge that the March installment of my monthly variety show falls on St. Patrick’s Day.

“I’ll do a couple of covers from fictitious TV and film bands,” I thought.

“I’ll show slides of some of the more esoteric fictitious bands,” I pondered.

But when I had the idea to create a fake band trivia contest I had no idea it would become my mission in life to create the MOST AMAZING AND TRULY AWESOME FAKE BAND TRIVIA CONTEST EVER!! I’m having an absolute blast putting these questions together, I think I may have found my calling in life!

The questions will range in difficulty from “everyone should know that” to “why would anyone know that?” with a lot of room in between. Some questions will be easy with supplemental bonus points for more in-depth knowledge on the same subject. There will be some “everyone wins” questions with prizes for anyone who gets it right. So even if you answer only one question right you could still get a prize.

And on top of this epicness we still have great comedy and music: dope and dirty rhymes from La Dynasty and standup comedy from Boris Khaykin, and more! So get your tickets now! It’s only ten bucks, but you can get tix for seven dollareedoos with the discount code ORCHVIP at QED’s website.

All right, back to the research…

The Missile-Toad Holiday Special ’17!

The Odd Rock Comedy Hour is putting on an odd rock holiday show! Comedy music superduo Sam & Bill, Killy Dwyer, Lauren Hope Krass and me, Rob P., will bring to the stage twisted musical holiday cheer in the form of top-notch comedy, music, standup, sketch, and candy! And if you get your tickets in advance and use code ORCHVIP, you can get in for just $7!

It all takes place on Saturday, Dec. 16th at 7:30 pm at Q.E.D. in lovely Astoria, Queens. The Odd Rock Comedy Hour will help make your season hilarious.

The Odd Rock Comedy Hour
Missile-Toad Holiday Special!
Sat. Dec. 16, 7:30 pm
Q.E.D.
27-16 23rd Ave, Astoria (N Train to Ditmars)
With Sam & Bill, Killy Dwyer, Lauren Hope Krass, and more!

2017-Dec-ORCH-posterV1

The Odd Rock Comedy Hour! Coming Nov 18!

The Odd Rock Comedy Hour, my new monthly comedy/music/variety show, launches Saturday, Nov 18 at Q.E.D.! After a great 3-year run of my monthly show Don’t Feed the Musicians! I’m ready to kick off a new show that will feature the best of what you’ve come to love from the old show along with some new twists and turns.

One of the reasons for the name change is that I wanted the name to clearly convey that the show was a fun collection of comedy, music, and something a little off the beaten path. Also, the name Don’t Feed the Musicians! is kind of bossy when you think about it.

The new name is inspired by a very quirky rock club in Milwaukee where my old band The Steppingstones played our first gig: The Odd Rock Cafe. The venue was a converted Victorian house in an industrial section of the city and all of the interesting 80s acts played there: The Jesus Lizard, Gwar, G. G. Allin, Social Distortion, and many more. We opened for a Milwaukee-based psychedelic jangle-pop band The Petals and we were so amped to be playing our first gig we blew through our entire set in about 30 minutes.

We came off the stage to some confused looks from members of the Petals.“You’re done?” The asked if we wanted to play a few more and we had to respond, “we don’t know any more.” We should have pulled the line Bob Newhart used after his first nightclub gig earned him calls for an encore. He came back out on stage and said “Okay, which one do you want to hear again?”

So there you have it: somewhere between quirky music with a D.I.Y. aesthetic and Bob Newhart lies The Odd Rock Comedy Hour. Coming to Q.E.D. on the 3rd Saturday of every month at 7:30 pm. Come join the fun!

Thanks for a great run!

Don’t Feed the Musicians!, my monthly variety show at QED, will be coming to a close on October 21 and I want to send out a hearty “thank you” to all of the artists that have been guests, all of the people that have come to enjoy the show, and the wonderful folks at QED who supported it. But the end brings a new beginning! I’ll be launching a new monthly variety show in November at the very same venue, in the very same time slot!

So why, you may ask, if I’m doing a monthly variety show in the same time slot at the same venue would I go through the hassle of creating a new show? I suppose the 3-year anniversary made me a little reflective and I thought about the work that goes into producing and hosting a show. I really enjoy both writing new material every month, performing, and bringing wonderful guests to the stage for the audience to enjoy, but I don’t like having to explain that that’s what Don’t Feed the Musicians! is.

It’s mostly my fault for giving the show an ambiguous title. When I was first approached about doing a monthly show at the then-brand new QED, I wanted to come up with a name other than “Untitled Rob Paravonian Project” and I thought Don’t Feed the Musicians! had a cheeky, musician’s inside joke kind of vibe. But when I see it listed up there with all of the other wonderful shows at QED I think about how someone else would see the name and wonder “what the heck is that?” And in the days of social media-fueled micro attention spans that can be a liability.

So watch this space for information on the new show, which will hit the QED stage November 18th at 7:30!

The Butch Vig of Comedy Music! Summer Summary Pt. 2

I started recording and producing my songs out of necessity and a DIY ethos, and over the years I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Which makes it nice to apply those producing and arranging skills to helping other artists get their music recorded and sounding amazing. This summer I worked with the hilarious musical duo Sam and Bill arranging, producing, and recording three songs for their EP Christmas in July, and together we had a great time kicking out some hilarious jamz.

Working with a duo as accomplished as Sam and Bill was rewarding because not only are they talented singers and experienced comedy performers, they have great chemistry between them and work incredibly well together. They came in with three well-written funny songs and a clear idea of how they wanted each one to sound. That clarity allowed me to really focus on how to execute an arrangement and production that would best suit each song and genre.

Sam and Bill in their video for Christmas in July
Sam and Bill in their video for Christmas in July

We started with a simple reference recording of them playing the song live on an acoustic guitar. From there I learned the song and started building the studio backing tracks with drums, bass, guitar, keyboards and whatever else the arrangement required. Each of the three songs had a different genre, era, and feel, and I enjoyed the challenge of getting the arrangement dialed in for the right sound.

The first song we worked on was “Kwanza” and they were looking for an OK Go power pop sound, which happens to be right in my wheelhouse with lots of guitars and a tight bass/drum rhythm section. The really fun part was when the end of the song takes a strong psychedelic turn with strings, choral backing vocals, and even a gong.

For the title track, Christmas in July they wrote a Jimmy Buffet-esque resort rock song which required a more laid-back feel—acoustic guitars, and a steel drum part that Sam played (via synth, as my studio’s steel drum was not available). I got to break out my lap steel guitar and fill in the production with some twangy licks, and we even recorded several tracks of us clapping live for the breakdown section.

We went with a retro, Phil Spector Wall of Sound for the track “Crystal Lake Christmas” and I got to pile up piano, horn, guitar, and more in a shuffle arrangement in my favorite challenge of the project. There were lots of pauses and breaks that we worked on together to get the timing right and the final product really clicked.

Another fun aspect with working with a duo is blending the two voices together. Sam and Bill create great harmonies and sing together throughout most of their songs, and I had to mix their voices to create the right balance and blend, sometimes bringing Sam to the front a bit, sometimes Bill, and using the same stereo compressor on both voices to unify their sound.

In addition to the tracks on Sam and Bill’s EP I produced a track for Noam Osband, which involved a lot of MIDI orchestration, and I wrote and recorded some music for the Iron Mule Film Festival and for video on the travel site Travel Tales Podcast. So I guess I’m saying “it’s not always about me!” I enjoy creating and producing music with other people too!

It’s all part of my master plan to turn my apartment into the Sun Records Studio of comedy music!

© Paravonian