Fans of VH-1 Classic’s That Metal Show and SNY’s Beer Money might recognize Don Jamieson as a co-host of two of the most fun shows on cable TV to date. I know Don as a friend, a comedian, and a huge supporter of the local music scene. Everywhere you look, he’s either hosting an event to promote local music or he’s just in the audience enjoying what the local music scene has to offer. He’s even been featured in the new Cycle Of Pain music video for their new song “Come On,” where he naturally plays “The Don.”
When he’s not filming an episode of That Metal Show or Beer Money or supporting the local music scene, Don is in the comedy clubs doing what he does best, and that’s making people laugh! Back in 2011, he released Live And Hilarious through Metal Blade Records, which actually reached the Top 10 on Billboard’s Comedy charts, although Don jokes that the album was released right around the time that fellow comedian Louis CK released his stand-up CD, Hilarious, and that many of the downloads of his CD were attributed to fans of CK accidentally downloading his CD since the titles were similar. I usually joke back with Don that I worked my whole life on signing a record deal for actually playing music and he gets one for being funny!
Regardless, Don’s new CD, Hell Bent For Laughter, is absolutely hilarious! I’ve been seeing Don perform his stand-up since 2008, which is how we became friends, and I will tell you that Hell Bent For Laughter is the best way to experience Don’s performance if you can’t ever see him perform it. I mean, everything is expendable to be joked about, like his favorite metal bands, his sex life, Mexicans, the audience and random body parts. Hell Bent For Laughter was recorded live at Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club in Point Pleasant, NJ with his best friend and That Metal Show co-host Jim Florentine introducing him to open the show and guitar legend Vinnie Moore supplying the intro and outro music.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a taping of That Metal Show in NYC, and Don invited me into his dressing room to discuss Hell Bent For Laughter a little bit more. I promise you, everyone’s clothes stayed on! Here’s what we talked about:
So, what made you choose Hell Bent For Laughter as opposed to Laugh At The Devil or Laugh At The Moon or even Laughter Bloody Laughter?
Oh, man! Laugh At The Devil would have been good! And then someone said to me the other day Ride The Laughter. I just wanted to do a parody of a metal band like I did with my first one, Live And Hilarious, which is obviously a play on Thin Lizzy’s Live And Dangerous. So, I just wanted to do a similar thing with a band that I loved and the Priest thing just sort of stuck with me. I didn’t get sued by Thin Lizzy, so I figured I’d take the chance.
How was the crowd for this recording? Because you taped it at Uncle Vinnie’s, the place where our bromance began!
Yeah, exactly! Well, the thing I love about it is that I met completely nutty people like you and all your friends from this comedy club. Everybody who goes there is a character of some sort and I wanted that vibe on the album. I didn’t want it to be six shows at a generic theater somewhere and the audience laughs, I tell a joke, the audience laughs, I tell a joke. That’s not my style. I love to get the audience involved and stuff and I just figured whatever will translate on an audio CD where you don’t need to see the person or whatever.
I wanted to include that Jersey character into it. So, you know, a woman dropping a bottle of wine in the middle of a show; I left that on there. You know, me breaking guys’ balls in the audience; I left that stuff on there. Any mishaps, I left on there, because to me, those are the funniest things.
There’s actually a bonus track on the iTunes version called “Three-Quarters Gay,” and it’s a completely improvised bit because I started talking about gay people and the guy says, “I’m only three-quarters gay.” And when you hand a comedian a grenade like that it’s like, “Okay, here we go!” So, I left all that stuff on the album, but I also do crafted bits and stuff.
Doesn’t Jim Florentine do your introduction also?
Yeah, Jim does the introduction. In fact, people should just buy this CD for Jim’s introduction. It’s funnier than any joke on the album actually. And Vinnie Moore from UFO did a guitar intro for me. So, the beginning of the album starts out really killer and I’m really psyched. I was so happy Vinnie could do it.
Wait a minute! I see Mötley Crüe as one of the tracks on your CD. What’s that all about?
There are some jokes about Mötley on there. I know that they’re your favorite band, but look at all of the bands that are listed on there: AC/DC, Halford, Ozzy, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses…
Well, on Live And Hilarious, you make fun of Poison and how you used to masturbate to the cover of Look What The Cat Dragged In…
Yeah, well, what do you mean “used” to? I just said I don’t do it as much. I can still rub one out to Rock Of Love in a pinch if I have to, but I put a little disclaimer inside because I do talk about so many metal bands. I mean, I love and respect all of those bands, but I’m from Jersey, so the only way that I know to show affection is by breaking balls. So, it’s not about that I don’t like any of those bands. It’s just that they’re good fodder for comedy.
How does Hell Bent For Laughter differ from Live And Hilarious? Is this a CD full of brand new material?
This is all brand new stuff and I think it’s better. The first album is great because I had 14 years to write it. It’s like the band thing. I had 14 years to write it and hone it, where I only had two and a half years to write this one. This one is much more where I’m at now and I’m a much better performer now. The first one was jokes from day one of me doing stand-up plus a bunch of current stuff that’s happening now so that the CD is relevant. But this is just everything that’s happened in my life over the last three years.
Now, why did you decide to record Hell Bent For Laughter at a small place like Uncle Vinnie’s as opposed to recording your performance the Orion Festival in AC?
Because I’m not smart! (Laughs) I don’t even have a video of me at the Orion Festival, which is insane because I could’ve put it out on DVD. But you know what, man, like I said, I liked the vibe in Uncle Vinnie’s Comedy Club. It’s more intimate. It’s a BYOB comedy club and it’s always the drunkest audiences ever for a place that has no liquor license. As I said, you get these great characters in there and it’s my home club, so I wanted to do them a solid and do the album there. I like to take a chance. The last one I did was in a rock club [Bar A in Belmar, NJ]. So I like to do things a little different.
Does being on That Metal Show help CD sales?
Well, the first one did go on the Top 10 on Billboard’s Comedy charts, which was amazing, but then the thing is, I don’t know if it was because I got a lot of promotion and because of fans of That Metal Show as much as Louis CK had an album out called Hilarious. So I think a lot of people might have downloaded mine accidentally (laughs). So I just want to say sorry to the people who did that and thank you, Louis CK.
Before we get kicked out of your dressing room, is there anything else you want to say about Hell Bent For Laughter?
Well, I did a lot more hard rock and heavy metal material than I did on my first one because, again, that is what’s going on in my life. This scene is a part of my life. There’s also stuff that regular comedy audiences will dig on it and even the metal stuff, people won’t be put off by, “Oh, I don’t know a lot of these bands.” I make sure that I set it up enough so that people will dig it. But this is definitely more hard rock and heavy metal-based for that audience. I really wanted to pay tribute to the people who have supported me up to this point. I’m really proud of it, all kidding aside, and I really want it to do well and it will eventually win a comedy Grammy!
Don Jamieson’s Hell Bent For Laughter is available now through Metal Blade and iTunes. If you’ve never seen Don live, now’s your chance to at least hear him live! Log onto his website, donjamieson.com, for more information. And don’t forget to catch Don every Saturday night at 11 p.m. on VH-1 Classic’s That Metal Show minus the HD.