By Jeff McKay
Special Features Correspondent
LOS ANGELES — Before the days of Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, when it came to politics some of the most interesting political comments came from music parodies and comedians. You don’t really hear much political satire on the radio these days, but that may change. A longtime radio host and producer has joined forces with a longtime entertainment industry executive to put together a political comedy CD that has hit the top of the comedy CD charts in just the initial two weeks of release. For Michael Hardeman and Marshall Blonstein, being politically correct means being “Politically Incoherent.”
Los Angeles-born-and-raised Marshall Blonstein is the former founder and president of the music labels Audio Fidelity and DCC Compact Classics. He has also held positions at Island, ABC and Epic Records, and is the founder of Morada Music and Video, based in LA.
Mike Hardeman is also known as “Rocky Mountain Mike,” a satirical writer, producer, musician and performer. He got his start 40 years ago on radio in KXOJ-AM in the Tulsa suburb of Sapulpa, Oklahoma. Hardeman had stops along the way at other stations, along with ABC Radio Networks in Dallas where he hosted a nationwide country music countdown show for several years.
Both Hardeman and Blonstein have joined forces to produce “Politically Incoherent,” which pokes fun at everything from the Tea Party to Obamacare and Sarah Palin and Fox News to Donald Trump. Following a release during the second week of October says Blonstein, “Politically Incoherent” leaped to #3 on the Billboard Comedy Chart, #2 on Amazon.com’s Comedy list and #1 on iTunes Comedy.
“It took two months to put this CD together, but a lot of work needed to be done to decide which tracks would make the album,” says Blonstein, who admits about two-thirds of all of the material that was put together for review as the album was being put together hit the cutting room floor. “We had two years worth of bits, but we wanted to make sure everything was timely.”
“A lot of the bits have a short shelf life. A number of parodies about the 2012 election we didn’t use because they’re dated. Bits about Mitt Romney lose their relevance over time, even from just over a year ago. However, subjects like the Tea Party, Obamacare, Fox News, and even Sarah Palin are all timely and relevant,” says Hardeman.
Hardeman has years of experience at not just being behind the radio mic, but also writing. For a number of years, Hardeman has written and produced political parodies and in 2006 he began contributing regularly to the nationally-syndicated political talk program, The Stephanie Miller Show, distributed by Dial Global. Known for her reputation for cutting-edge political humor, Miller has aired hundreds of Hardeman’s creations on her radio and TV programs. Hardeman’s humor has also been featured on the syndicated Thom Hartmann Show.
Hardeman, who credits the writing and comedy of Ernie Kovacs, George Carlin, The Firesign Theater and Saturday Night Live, found a fan of his work in Blonstein (pictured at right), who allowed through his music company a platform for Hardeman to produce his parodies.
“Évery once in awhile I get the yen to get involved in something unique, something that piques my interest. I’m a big fan of Stephanie Miller’s radio show in Los Angeles, and Rocky Mountain Mike has been doing bits on this show. I sent him an email through the show, and it got to Mike. He responded, and we hooked up,” says Blonstein.
Parodies, especially good parodies, have indeed become unique due to the level of creativity it takes to write and produce them. What Hardeman and Blonstein have done is targeted politics, made sure the storyline is both timely and relevant, and identified both a target audience and a format in radio where the parodies would best-serve the host using them.
“Some of the parodies on Politically Incoherent have been featured on Clear Channel’s Premiere 24/7 Comedy site. We believe other talk show hosts, no matter what side of the political aisle they stand on will like Politically Incoherent, and so will their listeners,” says Hardeman.
Hardeman also believes the levity that his parodies bring can also help to smooth out some of the rougher edges and more politicized talk radio.
“The album has a left-leaning approach, but is in no way political. It’s all about comedy,” says Hardeman.
While the songs do poke fun, they were very careful to make sure that lines between humor and political insults were not crossed.
”There’s no perfect way to know when you cross it. I do try to think a lot if the parody would be insulting to my friends,” says Hardeman. “I try to be childlike, cartoonish, and let people decide for themselves what the harder truths are.”
Such is the case for “Tea Party Harmony,” a parody mixing the Tea Party with the dating website eHarmony. A portion of the lyrics has a man and woman talk about their compatibility include, “When I met Sam for our first date at the firing range, it was just… boom! … We both know that Obama was born in Hawaii … I don’t like taxes … I’m afraid of brown people,” as the narrator chimes in “There’s no such thing as nuance at Tea Party Harmony.”
Another is their popular parody called “ConStar,” which spoofs politics and the use of the OnStar device in cars that allows people who are driving with their low-information passenger to press a button for immediate assistance. As the driver says, “I mentioned that my back was hurting, and he just started in,” the passenger says, “You know who ELSE had socialized medicine? Hitler!“ as the ConStar operator says, “OK, stay calm, sir. May I ask where your brother-in-law gets his news and information?“ The passenger chimes in, “You have to wait seven hours to see a doctor in Canada,” as the ConStar Operator replies, “All right sir, I’m sending you instructions on how to get to the nearest book store.”
“When you listen to ‘ConStar,’ you imagine you’re in your car with a right-leaning person who can’t stop speaking right-wing talking points. So you have this device in your car called ‘ConStar’ and it helps you to deflect those points,” says Hardeman.
Other parodies on the CD include “Motel Fox” blending Fox News with Motel 6, and “Let’s All Vote With Our Lobbyists” sung to the movie tune of “Let’s All Go to the Lobby.”
Another song, called “Take Back Our Country” is not about taking the country back from President Obama. Instead, according to Hardeman, the song takes you back to the way life was in the 1950s, and continues backward to the Dark Ages and the times of the dinosaurs and the Stone Age.
As for the future, Hardeman tells TALKERS there won’t be a “Volume 2” but there will be more from Blonstein and Rocky Mountain Mike.
“We have plans for a second album. The next album will be a little less partisan, and will have more of a ‘Saturday Night Live’ approach,” says Hardeman.
You can preview some of the parodies on “Politically Incoherent” here: http://www.politicallyincoherent.us/.
For more information call: 805 445 6464.
Jeff McKay, a veteran New York-based operations manager, newsman and traffic reporter, is a special features correspondent for TALKERS. He can be emailed at McKayway@aol.com.