Should Parody Material Be Part of Your Toolbox?

 In Blog

There has been so much bad parody material over the past few years that many consultants and programmers pulled all parody content due to poor focus group showings. If, however, you have the talent to execute great parody, then don’t follow that advice. It doesn’t apply to you!

Parody works when it is authentic and is used to develop the characters on the show. See Jimmy Kimmel’s now infamous feud with his then girlfriend Sarah Silverman over Matt Damon and Ben Affleck here, for an example.

Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon and country super group Lady Antebellum all use parody material to great success and impact. Jimmy Fallon answered our “What else?” question by producing this musical number to support an
ongoing bit. Lady Antebellum has created an entire fan base for their parodies of other artist’s hits.

The bottom line; parodies have to be relevant or entertaining, hopefully both.
So, I submit that the term custom music take the place of parody. Custom music can be used as “a contest” or “creative musical segue/splitter/hour opener” etc. Cadillac and Dallas on KICKS 101 in Atlanta along with Pepper and Dylan in Edmonton use parody material this way. Click the links below for audio examples.

Cadillac and Dallas’ Custom Musical Opener

Pepper and Dylan: Can’t Get Enough

Pepper and Dylan: Pepper’s Mom

Pepper and Dylan: Toss Your Boss

Parody can also be used as PPM friendly punctuation and not the entire break. Instead of a full length parody song, produce a hook or chorus that you can use during your back sell to have fun with a news or pop culture event.

The most powerful word in this process is custom. If no one on the show can sing, find a service that can do it for you. Since the audience wants and expects authenticity, make sure that the parody fits your show’s overall brand or the essence of one of the characters. Otherwise, the audience
won’t buy it.

Parody should meet the following criteria:

  1. Is it topical/relevant?
  2. Is it fun or funny? (Don’t just play it because you went to the work of producing it or it was included as part of the service you subscribe to and you have to fill a break.)
  3. Is it well sung and well produced?
  4. Like the Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon examples, any parody needs to support and expand your brand and character. Does it?
  5. Did you write it? Does it sound local? Include the call letters or name of the show so it can be spun out to local TV stations. Click here for Ace Burpee’s Jet Rock Anthem, an example of this.

The best scenario is having someone on the show that has the talent to create their own. This will showcase to the audience the additional talent of the host and expand his or her character (FITZ, one of the top morning shows in Seattle on The Wolf sings and produces his own parody material).

OR find a resource that can be integrated into the program. One great custom music and parody resource is Bomb Squad Radio.

Parody is not dead! It just needs to be re-invented and considered as one of many creative tools at your disposal. Shows need to take ownership of every element executed on air and in order to outperform and out-innovate your competition. Consider every resource at your disposal.

Second City offers the best comedy course in the business and inspired me years ago with one of their most important lessons: “Don’t put limits or parameters on creativity or you stifle the process all together.”

Just like successful brainstorming…everything is a great idea on the path to the perfect solution.

-written by Cliff Dumas


Click here to learn more about Cliff.

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