Day One hundred and eighty-three: "Let the Pun Fit the Crime" from Medium Rarities
Al’s career has gone full circle in the last three and a half decades. He went from being an accordion-playing human cartoon character in the mold of his hero Dr. Demento, singing about television at the start of his glorious, endlessly surprising career to voicing squeeze-box-playing cartoon characters on television for cult shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Wander Over Yonder.
“Let the Pun Fit the Crime” finds Al in character as Dr. Screwball Jones, a vaudeville villain who doubles as a sentient walking museum of terrible comedy tropes. He’s got a head like a banana just waiting to be slipped on, a Dr. Demento-like top-hat, a multi-colored wig associating him with a nightmarish subsection of comedy known as “clowns”, a polka dot bow tie and of course he plays the accordion, the only musical zany enough for Al.
As the title of “May the Pun Fit the Crime” betrays, he also has a horrible weakness for woeful wordplay. Dr. Screwball Jones’ sense of humor is a crime in itself, a form of comedic pun-ishment for everyone unlucky to experience it.
Where Al uses his accordion and good time polka powers for good, the same cannot be said of the bad guy he’s voicing here, who wants the world to make the whole world laugh and have fun, but in a malevolent, evil fashion.
Dr. Screwball Jones wields both his accordion and his terrible sense of humor as weapons in a duet with Jack MacBryer’s heroic Yonder (who previously crossed paths with Al as a standout 30 Rock cast-member) that doubles as a musical duel, a battle of instruments (the accordion for the mad Doctor, the banjo for Yonder) as well as ideologies.
The accordion is as synonymous now with Al as it was once universally associated with the “champagne music” of Lawrence Welk back in the 1950s but the angrily, aggressively played accordion of Dr. Screwball Jones, along with every other instrument, including Yonder’s banjo, was played by Andy Bean, who also co-wrote the song with Francisco Angones, who reportedly based the melody on Al’s “Bohemian Polka.”
The more you know about Wander Over Yonder and “The Boy Wander”, the episode that gave the world “May the Pun Fit the Crime”, the more you’ll get out of this angry cartoon polka, which is unusually rooted in the episode’s plot. There are lyrics that refer to sight gags that get lost in an all-audio medium but on the whole this is a delightfully dark ditty that illustrates Al’s gifts as a voice actor as well as a musician. Al isn’t just a famous guy who does voices for cartoons; he is a legit vocal thespian who makes Dr. Screwball Jones a real character, no pun intended, not just a crazy-looking dude who happens to sound exactly like Al.
“Let the Pun Fight the Crime” is far more reliant on context than “Super Duper Party Pony”, which also makes more sense within the world of the TV shows that birthed them, but it is nevertheless a worthy addition to Al’s treasure trove of TV tunes, demented ditties for and about the glass teat, the boob tube that has made boobs and suckers of us all.
Pre-order an autographed first edition copy of the Weird Accordion to Al over at https://make-the-weird-accordion-to-al-book-a-ridiculous-r.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders