Episode 211: 1985 Pat is joined by comedian and "Last Comic Standing" winner John Heffron to discuss music that was released right in the middle of the 80's. Specifically the year "1985." From July 30, 2015
With your host:
Pat welcomes us to the show. Young Master Kyle is back on the boards and he's brought along a guest. Okay, Pat along the guest. It's comedian John Heffron!
Pat and John have known each other for 23 years when they started touring as comedians together. Back then there was no GPS, only big map books. And you can forget about cellphones, so payphones were the only way to contact somebody on the road. They did a college tour; it was the first time they ever met, driving around the country in a van for 12 hours a day and making 200 bucks a show.
They drove with the equipment, set up the equipment, and took down the equipment all by themselves, all the while performing at crappy colleges. There was no Comedy Cental and no social media, so getting the word out was a matter of walking up to students in the library and cafeteria and telling them about the show that night. They would do noon shows in the snack bar or the quad where it was 90 degrees. But all that hardship thickened John's skin to the point where he can take pretty much anything. Season 2 of Last Comic Standing was all reality show contests, so John had no problem because he had dealt with much worse. Pat and John performed at Indian Reservations, they performed at Mormon schools. It was a real high-stakes production.
Here's a fun story: Pat and John were the bustling city of McCook, Nebraska (population: 7,698), performing at a college that was all white people except for the basketball team (insert joke here). The black guys hated them the whole show. Pat and John told them off, then another comedian on the show (a black guy) really shut them down and the team left. The three of them were staying at one of those one-story hotels were the door to the room opens out into the parking lot. They decided to play pool at this road house. Out of nowhere, the basketball team comes into the bar and surrounds them. They were really pissed off at the black comedian for being an Uncle Tom towards Pat and John, then they slapped the guy. Pat and John realized that they are about to be massacred for 150 bucks and no one else in the bar is casting an eye.
Somehow they managed to escape the bar without getting beaten up, raced back to the hotel, packed their stuff, and took off to the next town. The road was a straight line with nothing on either side of it (as Pat mentions, think of the album cover for Judas Priest's Point of Entry, but at night). All of a sudden, they see headlights coming up behind them, but luckily it wasn't the basketball team. Hoo boy, that must have been a fun day. When John was on Last Comic Standing, Pat paid John back for all those horror stories by voting for him every night. John was doing new stuff on every show. He also made Bonnie McFarlane cry, which is quite the feat since she's about as ruthless a comedian as you can find, but then he cried too. On national television. Oh John, those tears were nothing but ratings fodder to the network, I assure you. John won season two, supposedly winning a $50,000 development deal, but then they took out $30,000 for SAG-AFTRA and a bunch more for taxes. In the end, he got a measly $4900. He was also supposed to do Ellen and guest star on an NBC show, but because he had to do season three, he couldn't.
Season three started two weeks after season two. John knew he wasn't gonna win because NBC did zero promotion around him, the previous winner. Then when Alonzo Bodden won, the show was cancelled and nobody saw him win. TV, what a cruel mistress. But John is grateful for Last Comic Standing because it gave him a lot of exposure and he got a great stand-up run out of it. John is originally from Michigan, but now lives in LA. He moved here originally around the time Pat moved here, but then a week later he left his apartment behind to go to Detroit to host a radio show.
After the radio show, John moved back to LA with money and swagger and got Last Comic Standing just a few weeks later. He wore Detroit t-shirts on TV and got the Michigan vote. You beautiful, crafty bastard. But enough about the life and times of John Heffron, let's play some music! John is a big fan of 80s music, but for this episode we're only focusing on 1985, smack dab in the middle of this decadent decade. Kyle was negative 4 in 1985. I was negative 7. We were both mere twinkles in the eyes of our fathers. Just to be clear, we are only counting songs that came out in 1985; no 1984 albums but 1985 singles, people.
In 1985, John listened to everything: metal, new wave, R&B. His picks are all over the board. He starts us off with a little bit of silky goodness. Off the album Diamond Life, it's Sade with "Smooth Operator". A flag is immediately called on the play. The song came out in 1984. But that was in the UK. It was released in the US in 1985. No dice for Pat and Kyle, they shake their heads in disgust. Okay, not really, but it is pretty funny that the very first song played didn't originally come out in 1985.
Pat's first pick is by Heart and it is off their self-titled album. The song is "What About Love". It seems like every song in the 80s had that power ballad feel.
John and Pat reminisce about the strip clubs they visited in their youth. There was PT's in East St. Louis, where they went with Jimmy Pardo. Then there was Big Al's, where the girls were young, nude, and eager to chit chat. Speaking of naked tits and dancing, John plays his next pick "And We Danced" by The Hooters from the album Nervous Night. Another memory of the old tours: When they drove, they would do 200 miles and switch. Pat's car odometer was broken, so whenever Pat drove he would play the drums on his steering wheel so hard that the odometer moved. Essentially Pat was cheating his friends into driving more than him. Yup, sounds like Pat Francis to me.
Pat's next pick is a bit of solo Phil Collins. Off the album No Jacket Required, it's "Don't Lose My Number".
With his next song, John would write the lyrics on notes that he would pass to girls in school. He very rarely was busted for plagiarism. Off the album All I Need, it's "All I Need" by Jack Wagner. Yeah, that's 1984 too, John.
Pat plays a guy who John regrets not putting on hist list because he loves him. It's Rick Springfield with "State of the Heart" from the album Tao. John named his (now defunct) podcast The State I'm In after this song.
Pat tried soooooooo long to get on the All Things Comedy podcast network, and then John starts a podcast and immediately gets on ATC. Pat told John to stay consistent with his dates. John, to put it politely, did not follow that advice. It was like a British TV show: 8 episodes and done. John didn't want to interview comedians because pretty much every podcast does that. He didn't really have a thing, so the show was more about where he was at the time. It was about the state he was in. Then John realized, "Wait, why am I doing this for only 45 downloads?" and stopped. Pat asks John what his hobbies are, what is he interested in. Shooting guns and Krav Maga. Jesus, is he training for the IDF?!
Shooting guns is more for sports stuff than hunting and killing, and John is always safe with guns. He treats them with respect. And speaking of segways, respect is what his next pick wants. Off the album Who's Zoomin' Who?, it's Aretha Franklin with "Who's Zoomin' Who". According to John, Aretha is notorious in Detroit for not paying her dinner bills.
Up next for Pat is a band called Y&T. The song is "Summertime Girls" from the album Down for the Count. It's some good old fashioned 80s convertible metal.
With his next song, John remembers those school dances where he slow danced with a girl, got an erection, and had to untuck his shirt and quickly walk away. It's a shame he didn't know about the Irish Tuck: That's where you stick your boner in the waistband of your pants so it points up instead of out. I learned that one at summer camp. Ah, memories. Anyway, John plays "Heaven" by Bryan Adams from the album Reckless. Oh look, another 1984 song.
Pat plays his next pick. Off their self-titled album, it's The Beach Boys with "Getcha Back".
John returns to the land of funky R&B with his next pick Chaka Khan. Off the album I Feel for You, it's the song "I Feel for You". Guess what year the song came out? Did you guess 1984? Give yourself a prize!
Not everything in 1985 was solid gold churned from the teet of the musical cow. Pat proves it with his next song, "We Built This City" by Starship off the album Knee Deep in the Hoopla. John remembers how radio stations would edit the song and insert their city into the lyrics.
John and Pat agree that even though that song is about as enjoyable as a road trip with Pol Pot, it isn't the worst song of the 80s. When John was a kid, the song that made him do homework instead of watching MTV was "Eminence Front" by The Who. But times change and now John has other priorities, like playing his next pick. Off the album Boy in the Box, it's Corey Hart with "Never Surrender". Corey Hart just sort of... went away, says John.
Pat's next pick is the super group The Power Station. Off their self-titled album, it's the song "Some Like It Hot". Stupid Kyle actually thought the song was about the movie.
John's next song is also not about a movie, but it is part of a TV show. From the Miami Vice Soundtrack, it's Glenn Frey with "You Belong to the City". Glenn Frey was in a Bally's ad when he got fit. Pat wants me to put it on the guide, but I couldn't find any clips online. Instead, here is a Pepsi commercial with Glenn and Don Johnson from 1985. Enjoy!
Pat plays his next pick. It's Dio with "Hungry for Heaven" from the album Sacred Heart.
Ronnie James Dio famously invented the devil horns (well, it was actually his grandmother), but Gene Simmons claims to be its innovator. What does Ace Frehley think? Was it Dio?
How about you, Lenny Kravitz? Do you believe Gene Simmons?
What were John's radio days like? They started at 5:30 AM and ended around 9 or 10. He would also do a lot of bar appearances. Then he would get drunk and sleep in the radio station parking lot and start the day all over again. Pat tells a story about how he once sneezed over an entire tray of shots. The waitress sold them anyway. I suppose that means the waitress misled the patrons about there being no snot in the shots. Wait, did someone say "Misled"? Because that's John's next pick by Kool & the Gang from the album Emergency. To be honest, that was John's segway, not mine. And to be more honest, that song was from 1984.
Pat's next pick is by Talking Heads and is off the album Little Creatures. The song is "Road to Nowhere".
The album cover for John's next pick features the same castle that John lived in during Last Comic Standing. Off the 1984 album Ice Cream Castle, it's The Time with "Jungle Love".
Pat describes his next pick as a song that was probably intended for Def Leppard due to it being written by Mutt Lange in 1985 and having a very arena rock, Def Leppard-y feel. It's "Lovin' Every Minute of It" by Loverboy from the album Lovin' Every Minute of It.
John is a little disappointed that there are no more call-and-response songs like the kind Motley Crue had. He once worked on a TV show called Smash which was about the music industry (think Empire before Empire). It also had guys like Gene Simmons, Sebastian Bach, and Jason Newsted. At one point Gene and Jason were teaching John how to play the bass guitar and all John wanted to do was go to craft services and eat a nice chicken ceasar wrap. Pat plays a YouTube clip of Vince Neil singing live recently and it is not good. John brings up an equally awful performance, Kanye West singing "Bohemian Rhapsody."
We hear the video. It starts with Freddie singing, which is always nice, and then Kanye West has to come in and ruin it for everyone. Thankfully John has an R&B palate cleanser for us all. From their self-titled album, it's New Edition with "Cool It Now". 1984 again........ *sigh*.
Ronald Reagan! The actor? Ha ha ha, that's a movie reference. Pat plays his next pick "The Power of Love" by Huey Lewis and the News from the Back to the Future Soundtrack. Rumor has it Huey is packing quite the phallus in his pants. He's also not the easiest guy to get along with, or so John has heard. Neil Giraldo is not a very easy rider either. When they play corporate events, his name needs to be as big as Pat Benatar's and there needs to be a ten-minute retrospective video of his career played beforehand, or else they don't play at all. Pat's parents (Francis, not Benatar) walked out of Back to the Future because they thought Marty's mom falling in love with Marty was too unbelievable. Keep in mind that this is the same movie with a time-travelling car. But boy do they love those Hallmark movies.
Pat's mother is notorious for not getting movie names right. She knows films like Maximum Road (Mad Max: Fury Road) and The Accomplice (Absence of Malice). Podcasts are broadcasts. And the money in ATMs don't come from the ATM, they come from a tube that travels from the bank to the machine. Old people, aren't they wacky? John returns us to the music with his next pick and SURPRISE! It's from 1984. I'm seriously not making any of this up. From the Chess Soundtrack, it's "One Night in Bangkok" by Murray Head.
Pat has another movie soundtrack on hand for his last pick. Off the Goonies Soundtrack, Pat plays "The Goonies 'R' Good Enough" by Cyndi Lauper. Pat is not a fan of The Goonies. It's probably because he was 40 when it came out.
It's time for John's last pick and just to complete the circle, it's a song from 1984. Off the album Make It Big, it's Wham! with "Careless Whisper".
John's wife works a lot of catering events at famous people's houses. John once went out with the wait staff after a show and called his wife to check in. She was hanging out with George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Another time his wife offered hors-doerves to Madonna. Madonna stuck her hand in her face. John's wife thus ixnayed Madonna from John's list for today.
Plugs time. You can find John on Twitter @JohnHeffron. His website is JohnHeffron.com and all of his CD's are available on iTunes for your comedic enjoyment.
Thank you to John for climbing aboard the good ship Rock Solid and providing some laughs. Granted, he also provided a lot of songs from the wrong year. But we love him anyway, the scamp. It's quite fitting that we end with a song from 1984 that John didn't get to play. Off the album Wheels Are Turnin', it's REO Speedwagon with "Can't Fight This Feeling".