Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Too Silly to Fail: Billy Kelly's Comedy for Kids

Good clean fun. Even at the squeakiest-clean children's events, there have always been little hints of anarchy or "adult" content. Perhaps double (shudder) entendré. But as long as the first entendré is explicitly for kids, and the second one is pretty oblique, what's the worry.

Years ago, we saw the Wiggles in NYC. Captain Feathersword was playing musical cues on guitar. And, at one point, he played the familiar few bars of "Stairway to Heaven," eliciting knowing guffaws from most of the adults and stares of bewilderment from the tykes. There's nothing wrong with that – after all, it's the parents who bought the tickets. Let us have a chuckle here and there.

But wait – what if, instead of an hour of children's music (with one of two adult-oriented references subtly laced into the content), it was an hour of children's comedy (with nary an adult-oriented reference)? Illustrator/musician Billy Kelly has answered that challenge with his first comedy album, accurately entitled MY FIRST COMEDY ALBUM.

Comedy for kids is rarefied air – the last performer to attempt this high-wire act was Eric Herman with 2014's ADVENTURES OF JUPITER JACKSON. But that CD was mostly sketches and songs. Billy is going the straight stand-up route (with a couple of short acoustic guitar bits thrown in). Tragedy is easy, goes the old adage, and comedy is hard. Billy makes it sound easy, as he's built a rapport with audiences of all ages through decades (a couple of them) of musical gigs.

Reviewing comedy is infinitely harder than music – you can describe a song. But all you can do with comedy is TELL a couple of the jokes. And that misses the inflection, the timing, and the atmosphere. Billy describes seeing a "For Sale" sign and making a purchase. Suffice to say, the joke is in subverting audience expectations of what he bought, and adding a few flourishes to build the punchline.

In these uncertain times, we all need something that can make us laugh. Innocently. Without subtext. Without a hidden agenda. Billy Kelly to the rescue. Now that we've heard MY FIRST COMEDY ALBUM, it will indeed be interesting to see what roads Billy heads down next. If his mission is to make America laugh again, he's starting with the youngest constituency and working his way up. Laugh yourself blue (or red, depending on your state...of mind).

Billy will be doing two live stand-up shows in the New York region later this month during Thanksgiving weekend. See him at Governors Comedy Club/The Brokerage in Bellmore on Saturday, November 26 at 3 PM (Tickets $12 (Kids ages 8 and up) and at Jalopy Theater on Sunday, November 27 at 2 PM (Tickets $5 kids, $10 adults, $25 family ticket).

MY FIRST COMEDY ALBUM is available from Billy Kelly's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is a short video for one of Billy Kelly's comedy bits, "Billy Kelly Buys a Dozen Eggs":

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