Once a month a talented musician, songwriter, comic and avant garde talent by the name of Brute Force produces a variety show at the esteemed Players Club in Manhattan on East 20th Street!
Believe it or not, Brute Force was not the name his parents intended him to have. He started out in life as Stephen Friedland, and took the name Brute Force in 1964. He wrote and performed with The Tokens in the 1960s and wrote songs for Peggy March, Del Shannon, The Chiffons and The Cyrkle.
I believe The Cyrkle sang a song called ” Red Rubber Ball” which was one of my favorites!
Brute also recorded an album in 1967 called ‘I Brute Force: Confections of Love.’ But I think his most enduring credit is the song he recorded on Apple Records, ( Yes, … The Beatles label!) called “King of Fuh.”
A friend of Brute’s who was in The Cyrkle, played the song for Beatles manager Brian Epstein who then played it for George Harrison. Harrison, and John Lennon both wanted to release the song but Capitol/EMI blocked it because of the lyrics which in the 6o’s were considered too outrageous. Today they would be nothing!
Similar to the way that Lenny Bruce was pilloried for things he said that were considered obscene in his day, that today would make him like just another stand-up comic. It was a different world.
It took 40 years for Brute’s song to finally be officially released on a compilation album from Capitol/EMI called ‘Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records,’ a compilation of music recorded by Apple artists such as James Taylor, Billy Preston, Badfinger and Mary Hopkin. Also on the collection is ‘King of Fuh,’ marking the first time it got an official major label release.
Brute like so many who are ahead of their time, is so unique that he doesn’t fall into a category. I had that for so many years in my early career. I had such high level meetings with everyone important in comedy who said things like, ” Your stuff is really funny, but it’s so different we don’t know where to put it!” It makes you wanna say, “Well, how about putting it on it’s own show???
Brute plays the chair like no one else I ever saw who plays furniture, and he also plays a fantastic violin solo on the elongated hair from his eyebrows, … eyebrows that even George Whipple would envy!
Anyway, somewhere during the show Jimmy Fallon popped into the room, and then hung out afterwards for about an hour with his new producer Amy Ozols who will be producing The Tonight Show when Jimmy brings it back to New York starting in February, 2014.
Jimmy will be bringing his unique voice to a legendary show and I can only imagine how exciting this must be for him. He’s so much more than just a comedian. He’s a multi-talented guy who sings, plays instruments, does impressions, … you name it he does it!
He was telling Amy about my Comedy Matters TV channel, and we reminisced about the time I interviewed him at Gotham Comedy Club and his wife Nancy shot the interview for me because my DP wasn’t able to show up. It’s in two parts, and I’ll show one here!
Jimmy stopped by to give Brute his support and was very surprised to see me there too! I told him I had just gotten back from LA from doing a guest spot on Kroll Show on Comedy Central playing myself in a red carpet sketch, as an interviewer for Comedy Matters TV.
He kept saying “Jeffrey, what are you doing here? I explained that I’m a regular performer on Brute’s shows, which are always fun and different! You can always count on Brute to do something fun and outrageous. Like a yoga position he named something to do with a dog, … not Downward Facing Dog, but his own version where suddenly he’s on the floor on his back with his legs up in the air panting like a dog!
Brute played King of Fuh for Jimmy at his request, and then Jimmy surprisingly turned the piano over to me, not aware that I was actually able to play. I don’t know who was more surprised, he or I that I knocked out a couple of songs off the top of my head!
I took lessons for ten years from the time I was 7 until I was 17, but I don’t get to play as much as I’d like to. Just recently I played in a comedy video I shot with this great comedy troupe called “Cult Comedy Pictures” where I played myself interviewing a hack comic named “Count Hackula.”
Hackula dresses like a vampire and hasn’t changed his act in hundreds of years! I confront him on that on Comedy Matters TV!
Anyway, it was great to see Jimmy and we’re all so excited for him to take over The Tonight Show, and bring it back to New York! One thing I know for sure, it’s going to change a lot of things around here, … and all for the good!