From the Ramones' "Beat on the Brat," and Johnny Rotten's mocking sneer "we mean it, man!" in "God Save the Queen" to Fear's "New York's Alright If You Like Saxophones," some of the best punk rock had a sense of humor. Given that premise, it's only natural that some of the best and coolest comedians would have ties to the punk rock scene. Here's a look at some of our favorite comedians with punk ties.
"Daily Show" host and comedian Jon Stewart recently shared his punk past in an interview with Vulture. From 1984 through '87, the man born as Jon Stuart Leibowitz worked as a bartender at Trenton, N.J.'s City Gardens, which was sort of like a suburban version of CBGB. In the interview, Stewart recalls seeing a number of acts, including X, Joan Jett, Agnostic Front, GBH, GWAR, Black Flag, Bad Brains and the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the club. Among the moments Stewart recalls is the night someone pulled out a gun at an X show and another time when he had to clean up Lords of the New Church singer Stiv Bators' vomit and later caught MTV VJ Martha Quinn on his lap "basically Zamboni-ing the inside of his mouth."
Stewart contributes to the forthcoming book on the club, "No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes: An Oral History of The Legendary City Garden" by Amy Yates Wuelfing and Steven DiLodovico. A documentary on the club called "Riot on the Dance Floor: The Story of Randy Now and City Gardens," directed by Steve Tozzi, is in post-production, set for release later this year.
Stewart's "Daily Show" once mocked a right-wing punk in this clip.
Although Armisen may be best-known for his stint on "Saturday Night Live" and co-creating and co-starring in "Portlandia" with Carrie Brownstone of Sleater-Kinney and Wild Flag, he first gained notice as the drummer in the Chicago-based post-hardcore band Trenchmouth in the '90s. His love of punk rock has been well-documented, as he's cited catching the Clash and Devo on TV as life-altering events.
We caught him rocking out to veteran punks the Buzzcocks a few years back at Coachella, and we'll soon be seeing a lot more of Armisen, the musician, when he starts his new gig as the band leader of "Late Night with Seth Meyers" on Feb. 24.
Then of course, there's Armisen's brilliant punk-rock alter-ego Ian Rubbish. Late last year, Armisen as Rubbish interviewed surviving Clash members Mick Jones and Paul Simonon in the Funny or Die mockumentary "The Clash: The Last Gang in Town." The Clash legends even backed Rubbish on his song "Hey Policeman!" Watch and try not to get it stuck in your head.
John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd
Long before Armisen brought his punk-rock fandom to "SNL," original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players" John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd were big punk-rock fans. In fact, Aykroyd claimed that Belushi "had become one of the first punk-rock fans in America. He used to drag me to GBGB's all the time. He knew all those bands and loved them," he recalled in "Belushi: A Biography" by Judith Jacklin Belushi. "He was a heavy-metal fan from the beginning, but back then that meant Allman Brothers and Zeppelin. Now it was FEAR."
In fact, it was through Belushi's lobbying that Lee Ving and company were booked to played a Halloween episode of "SNL" in 1981. After the show, the New York Post ran a story with the screaming headline, "FEAR Riot Leaves Saturday Night Glad to Be Alive," adding that there was an estimated $200,000 of damage done to the studio.
John Joseph of the Cro-Mags was in the audience that night and recounts the experience in this clips. (Warning: He drops multiple F-bombs).
- Arts & Entertainment
- Jon Stewart
- John Belushi
- Fred Armisen