Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Parodies Are Fun

Parodies are fun. 

Saturday Night Live has proven that. Presidents, politicians, actors, and other famous or infamous people’s actions and words have been the fodder for SNL parodies for forty years now.  My favorite parodies from SNL have to be “Celebrity Jeopardy" skits.  Norm Macdonald’s Burt Reynolds and Darrell Hammon’s Sean Connery characterizations are hilarious. Jimmy Fallon plays an exasperated Alex Trebek to a T. 

The sly creators of Sesame Street have kept mommies and kiddos entertained for years.  Their parodies not only teach little ones numbers and letters, but offer sometimes frazzled and often isolated child care providers a good laugh. I personally laughed my head off the first time I saw Polly Darton, a country singing muppet that looked very much (in every way) like country singer Dolly Parton on Sesame Street. (My babies stared at me like I’d gone mad…)

There are lots of song parodies on the internet.  Just type ‘parodies’ and you’ll get an impressive, never ending list of videos to satisfy your creative funny bone. The king of parodies is of course, Weird Al Yankovic.  He’s been around for a long time. And he’s not so weird.  I watched an interview on line recently where Al (we’re on a first name basis) talked about his creative process when deciding which songs to parody, what the topic of the parody should be, and how to write the parody.  He also stated that every song he writes must get the original singer’s approval before it can be recorded. Think way back to “Fat”, a parody of Michael Jackson’s Bad, and more recently “Tacky”, a parody of  Pharrell William’s Happy… and every parody in between.  That’s an impressive run.
I like parodies because they're by nature something that has to be copied/imitated well to be good.  That's much more difficult I think than just writing your own song or skit.  It takes creative problem solving to make sure a parody sounds like the original and makes sense in its own right.
I wrote my own parody while attending the EIWP at St. Ambrose University.  I’ve talked about this class in previous posts. One of the things we did at least two afternoons a week was an activity called Writing Marathon.  During a Writing Marathon we organized ourselves into small writing groups then we picked several places around the city to visit to and just sit and write.  We found inspiration most everywhere we went. With a shout-out to Starland Vocal Band, here is a parody I wrote during a Writing Marathon.

Afternoon Write
By Nadine Roth

(With apologies to Starland Vocal Band and in appreciation of Weird Al Yankovic)

Gonna find my pen gonna hold it tight
Gonna grab some afternoon write
My motto's always been 'when I write, it's right'
Even if it starts: “It was a cold dark night.”

Everything's a little clearer with your muse at play
And I know the revision’s gonna be there any way
Marathon invite. Afternoon, write. Afternoon write!

Thinkin' up stories feed my appetite
Looking forward to a little afternoon write
Rubbin' pens and pencils together starts sparks igniting
And the thought of publication is getting so exciting
Marathon invite. Afternoon, write. Afternoon write!

Wrote a poem this morning that was so polite
My fellows assured me that it didn’t bite
But it’s gotten me a thinkin’ and I’m sure I might try grabbing a little afternoon write.
Marathon invite. Afternoon, write. Afternoon write!

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