Heywood emcees at Ann Arbor concert starring Nanci Griffith, Glen Campbell, Ryan Adams: “And speaking of the M.C., Banks—known for his Thanksgiving shows at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase—was absolutely perfect. Even his corniest jokes were funny. His ode to toast, appropriately called “Toast,” never gets old, and he surely must deserve some kind of award for filling the gap for nearly 15 minutes while roadies set up the stage for Ryan Adams. Banks is some kind of crazy, but in a good way.”
Roger LeLievre AnnArbor.com Freelance Journalist
“Heywood’s act is a visual bombardment. Heywood Banks is a geek. One part science lab, one part ‘The Day After’. The man is a walking, talking computer error.”
Heywood Banks: Good, Clean, Insane Comedy
Comedy is hard for anyone to do, but you’re basically raising the bar on yourself as a comedian your work isn’t blue or political. That can all be good, but fans can include the whole family with the “all-rounder” kind of humorist.
Last summer friends of ours were strolling their remote rustic burg in the thumb of Michigan, near Bad Ax and Pigeon. They ran into a lunatic who was just really funny right there on the sidewalk, who had the little kids splitting their sides before anyone could blink. He mighta been selling stuff at a table. Turns out he was Heywood Banks, a nationally famous comedian. He lives in Flint or thereabouts…and vacations up in the sticks. When he’s not playing Leno, Letterman or Vegas. Man, that alone is just plain weird. They came home with a CD.
It’s been getting big airtime around here ever since and we bought a 2nd, too. I shoulda wrote it up sooner. I’m thick. But eventually I realize that we’re enjoying something that others would appreciate but which they may not know about.
His comedy is musical. He’s in the tradition of Weird Al, I suppose. But he’s more insane and funnier. He writes and plays full-band full-on crazy songs about absolutely everything. “Wiper Blades” is playing right now. He has a great Michigan attitude—and I can only blame his genius on growing up around here, among the vacant lots, drainage ditches and minimalls. Lots of songs about “if I only had a bulldozer then everyone would be polite” or “be friendly to the crabby little old lady because you never know…who’s got a gun”…or “She’s the one-eye love”—the puns start picking up speed, like the one that says “I want to get you a loan.” There’s a song about “It’s Just the Television” about a guy overlooking scary sounds until it’s too late.
Heywood offers great production values, great playing, great voice. Just hilarious stuff. Suitable for anyone from age 5 on up. For those around age 8 you’re going to get slap-happyism, the urge to invite friends over and share the joy,
hysterics and much repeat play, so be careful.
And, dang, we just missed his show a half hour away at the Olivet High School. (We learned about it a half hour prior and actually tried to make it, but the blizzard under way at the time turned us back before we got a mile. Oh well. The spirit was willing.) We’ll catch his Novi show on 1/27.
Now it’s “I gotta gal with just one leg. Whatever you do don’t call her…” Audience: “…Peg.” I spose that’s an old chestnut.
Our kids have memorized most of it. They sang the song “Dust Mites” for an amazed 4th grader in a playground the other day.
It’s also fun hearing the live adult audience getting into it on much of his CD “Pretending I’m Not Home.”
Stand-up comic and song parodist Heywood Banks is a study in contrasts. He wears a plum sports coat, safety glasses, and a crazed mop of graying hair with matching goatee. If he himself is aware of how silly he looks, he doesn’t let on. He’s as relaxed as if he were standing in his own kitchen rather than onstage in front of an all-ages, sold-out Thanksgiving weekend audience. One good way of defining this veteran comic would be by what he is not. He is not vulgar or arrogant, racist, sexist, or obnoxious. He is neither well dressed nor self conscious. And he is not an amateur musician. His songs draw on a wide range of styles, carefully sculpting covert yet brilliant relationships between the lyric and its music. For instance, “Smoking” is set to a cool jazz riff, as cool as ever backed any satin-draped lounge singer:
I’m thinking ’bout taking up smoking
looking pretty good to me
All the guys look so hip with a cigarette lip
and the chicks seem to agree.
His quick little hook-laden ditties immediately pierce your cerebrum, remaining there on quick retrieve for those times when we need to process both the inane and the infuriating aspects of life. He laments having forgotten to replace his car’s wiper blades to a groovy, Latin-feeling tune that contrasts sharply with the memory of the arrival of winter and “all the ice and snow” that overwhelmed his decrepit wipers. And he also sometimes worships the glories of existence, as in his ode to toast — “Yeah, toast!” — for which he actually accompanies himself on a toaster.
Banks’s act is definitely family friendly; you could bring your grandmother or child with you. I took my boy Sammy, and we both “laughed our butts off” (as Sam put it). I can’t think of anyone who would be offended by this material — except perhaps Britney Spears. In his sweeping orchestral piece “Not I,” Banks assails the media’s (and presumably the public’s) obsession with celebrities. I see I’m not the only one who stands in line looking at the tabloids, dumbfounded:
In the paper I read the news flash:
Oprah Winfrey likes taking hot baths;
Catherine Zeta-Jones likes being pregnant;
Britney Spears admires Madonna,
The metric system, and blunt force trauma,
And they say Wayne Newton is finally eating solid foods.
Who gives a rat’s lower digestive tract?
Who gives a purple possum duodenum?
Who gives a swollen rodent colon?
Not I. Not I. Not I, my friend, not I.
[Review published November 2005]
Heywood’s act is not the normal stand-up act of male-female relationship jokes and audience member-bashing. He intersperses his humorous observations of life with madcap songs containing hilarious lyrics and routines.”
Gazette Special Writer
“Dressed in a plaid jacket and wearing dark-rimmed glasses, comedian Heywood Banks doesn’t need off-color jokes to make people laugh…It’s a show you can bring your kids or your grandmother.”
“Just why are people ‘all around the country from coast to coast’ laughing? Two words: Heywood Banks”
“Leave the 409, Windex and rags at home, because this is one of the Funniest, and “squeakiest clean” shows on earth! Heywood Banks is wild, wacky, witty, whimsical and way-out! It’s an unforgettable show that will leave you wanting more, and singing Heywood songs ’til your friends can’t stand it anymore. Heywood’s credits include: A & E’s Evening at the Improv, Bob & Tom, CNN Hollywood Minute, Carolines Comedy Hour, Entertainment Tonight, MTV’s 1/2 Hour Comedy Hour, People Magazine, Rolling Stones Magazine, Showtime Comedy Club Network…..and Many More! ”
The Republic “The satirical surgery was a success. And, yes, the audience was left in stitches…Heywood’s songs are rather short, with speedy, laugh-a-second lyrics…the audience howled after Banks called two men from the audience on stage to help sing parts on a song about a well advertised garden weeding tool…Banks’ music and offbeat humor have given him a growing niche in comedy circles.”