Where do you draw the line between comedy and music?
Consider this: Tripod, Flight of the Conchords and the Lonely Island are widely recognised as comedy acts, yet Jack Black’s Tenacious D is seen as a proper band (albeit one whose main aim is to make you giggle).
Likewise, Sydney’s Axis of Awesome – Jordan Raskopoulos, Lee Naimo and Benny Davis – is, for all intents and purposes, a comedy act. It plays comedy festivals and has won comedy awards. But the trio has also released a handful of studio-produced albums, and would be just as comfortable headlining a sweaty rock club as it is playing a civilised comedy theatre.
The group bounds on stage, suits covered in medieval gear, and launches into 'Rage of Thrones'; an amps-up-to-11 track about those that have jumped onto the Game of Thrones bandwagon (“But I’ve read the fucking book!” howls Raskopoulos).
Cry Yourself a River is the band’s new album and also the name of the show (“we did that deliberately… marketing…” says keyboardist Davis in a David Brent-ish fashion), so the show is predictably packed with a bunch of new tracks which are more hit than miss.
Highlights include 'Man of the Match', a guitar-led parody of footballer clichés (“we put in 110%, we’re happy with the boys’ efforts today, it’s a game of two halves”) and the very funny 'Do They Know It’s Pizza?', an epic power ballad that recalls Tim Minchin’s 'Canvas Bags', urging pizza store owners to cut their products into 12 slices making it easier to share among three. (It’s accompanied by an online campaign).
If there’s a weak point to the act, it’s the between track banter which is occasionally funny but repetitive (Naimo plays the bewildered dumb guy; jokes about Davis’ height continue all show). Albeit, Raskopoulos’ show-long desire to “reclaim the peacock for men” leads to a memorable visual joke at the end of the show (no spoilers) that you won’t get out of your head easily.
The Axis of Awesome is a musical comedy act whose music is funnier than its comedy. So the question still remains – do we file their CD alongside Tenacious D or the Lonely Island?