When I was 11 or 12, my mom, my brother, and I drove from Virginia to Maine to visit my aunt. Most of those 2 days in the car were spent listening to my brother’s new tapes. I had no idea the effect those three cassettes would have on me.
1) George Carlin, “Occupation: Foole”: This was my introduction to smart standup. In the middle of the comedy boom, here was a guy in the 70s talking about people’s voices and backgrounds, the absurdity of jobs, and the concept of obscenity. Heady stuff for a kid going into the 7th grade.
2) “Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album”: Boy oh boy. Not only is it complete filth; it also introduced me to a lot of non-filthy adult concepts, like how entertainment is manufactured, how religion and careers are kinda dumb, and boring everyday angst. Also very intelligent silliness.
3) The Sex Pistols, “The Great Rock ‘n Roll Swindle”: In 1994ish, I knew about grunge, but not punk. I heard this tape 50x before I ever heard “Never Mind the Bullocks”, so all the self-reference was lost on me. But it was strange and goofy and then, FINALLY, some actual songs appeared and I loved it. They were screwing up. Johnny Rotten said he didn’t know the words to “Roadrunner”, which blew my little mind.
Hearing these three tapes on repeat for an 18-hour drive melted my brain a little. After that trip, most Seattle music wasn’t raw enough. Most comedy wasn’t funny or silly enough. Most standup wasn’t thoughtful enough. Most records didn’t embrace the medium’s possibilities enough.
I think more than any single event, that 2-day trip influenced Future Dan’s radio shows, comedy band’s albums, live bands’ performances, podcast, and books. I learned that week that every medium has arbitrary rules that don’t automatically apply to you. I’ve tried to use those principles ever since, to varying degrees of success, and hopefully will continue to get better at each of them.