Death Cab's Ben Gibbard Provides 'Emo Relief' at Comedy Festival

Indie rocker performed a mash-up of U2 and Village People with Bobcat Goldthwait

January 22, 2012 4:30 PM ET
ben gibbard
Ben Gibbard tapes an episode of fuse Top Twenty Countdown at fuse Studios in New York.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

One of America’s most respected comedy festivals, SF Sketchfest, kicked off its annual run in San Francisco this weekend with, among other offerings, a live presentation of Eugene Mirman’s Pretty Good Friends. Joining Mirman for the show was an all-star cast that included The State co-stars Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter (both of whom "have issues") and 1980s comedian Bobcat Goldthwait. Saturday night’s edition also featured a solo performance from Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, who provided emo relief between all the funny guys. "I’m just going to be performing a couple songs," Gibbard told Rolling Stone, before the show. “I think it’s to give people a break from funny.”

Gibbard broke out "When the Sun Goes Down," which he originally debuted at a solo show in San Francisco a year earlier. He then unveiled a more lighthearted and geographically relevant ditty, with the chorus, "You’ll always have a place to stay in Oakland."

Gibbard emerged again during Goldthwait’s set, for a truly comedic duo performance of the Village People’s "YMCA," sung to the tune of U2’s "With or Without You." And while Gibbard did a fine job of portraying himself, Goldthwait imitated Bono, complete with a guitar strapped to his back, just for show.

"If people only knew me by the songs that I write, I think people wouldn’t assume that I have a sense of humor," Gibbard told Rolling Stone. "But I think most people would be surprised how a lot of musicians that you would not think were really funny – and I’m not including myself in this, I’m just saying in general – are really fucking funny. Especially people who tend to write songs that, on the surface, are a lot more serious ... Conor Oberst is one of the funniest people I know, but if you only knew him by his lyrics, you wouldn’t necessarily get that."

SF Sketchfest continues over the next two weeks with performances by Reggie Watts, David Cross, Bruce McCulloch, Paul F. Tompkins and many others. In addition to Gibbard, other participating indy rockers hoping for a crossover include Zach Rogue (Rogue Wave) and Ted Leo.

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