Dan Chamberlain — Above Average staff writer, UCB Comedian, shitty upstairs neighbor, and general funny guy about town — has a pop encyclopedia for a brain. I know this better than anyone, because I’m the proud owner of a handful of mixtapes that were lovingly crafted for me by none other than Dan back before either of us knew how to drive or hold hands without furiously blushing.
Dan and I went to high school in Groton, Massachusetts, a sleepy town where the foliage is pretty this time of year and the musical landscape was completely devoid of anything beyond TRL and what was blasting over the speakers at the Pheasant Lane Mall’s Hot Topic. In spite of that, Dan listened to whatever he could get his hands on, and the mixes he made when we were kids reflected this early penchant for making obscure tracks play nice together. These cassettes embraced sleeper hits and eventual cult classics, along with movie soundtrack cuts (he had a particular fondness for “You Don’t See Me” from Josie and the Pussycats/I still have the love note written during a chorus trip to prove it), pop-punk B sides (he saved me from a perilous Less Than Jake moshpit at the Worcester Palladium once), and picks from Elliott Smith’s catalog (because hi, we were nothing if not predictable Bostonian teenagers with bad cases o’ the feelings).
I was hardly surprised, then, when Dan started tinkering with various mash-ups when he was bored or buzzed in between comedy gigs as a grown-up and started posting them to his Tumblr — and even less surprised when they eventually went viral. His infernal splicing of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” with Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Semi-Charmed Call,” brought the internet to its knees. He did the same thing when Nicki Minaj’s “Starships” and PSY’s “Gangnam Style” proved to be familiar bedfellows. (His personal favorite is “Black Song,” because who the hell would think to cut up and rearrange Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead” and Sara Bareilles’s “Love Song” into one absurdly catchy tune?) Now Dan’s taken today’s single of the moment — Adele’s “Hello” — and fused it with the only song you probably know the choreography to from 2015, Silentó’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” and it’s absolutely ridiculous. What’s even more ridiculous is that Adele released “Hello” at midnight last night, and Dan had the damn mash-up ready to go before most New Yorkers finished drinking their first cup of coffee this morning.
“I thought of it when I was on beer last night, around 3 a.m.,” he tells me. “I just did a show. I’d stayed up late talking to my brother, Tim, and I listened to [‘Hello’] a couple of times, and I threw a couple of songs at it. I thought, ‘Maybe the Nae-Nae song will work!’ I woke up this morning, got to the office, and made it in about twenty minutes. I didn’t even have to mess with it — they’re both in D major, I think — so it was just chopping the lyrics. There wasn’t a lot of moving pieces around.”
Dan has no aspirations to be a DJ or anything. (He did play Tiësto’s assistant in a Dell commercial once.) “There’s no finesse in what I do,” he says, laughing. “I don’t cut decks or anything! I’m not going to be doing what Zac Efron does in We Are Your Friends. That seems like such a bummer to me. It’s a lot of the same language as when a stand-up comic goes, ‘Have you ever noticed when this thing is like that thing? Have you ever noticed that X is like Y?’ The language is the same: ‘Have you ever noticed that this song sounds like that one?’ ”
His mash-ups can be found over at Above Average, on his Tumblr, and in between sketches during UCB’s Maude Night, where he performs with house team Legs for Days. (Or does for the time being, anyway: Dan’s last show with Legs for Days is November 2 at UCB Chelsea.) The internet may lose its collective mind over the idea of Adele doing the Nae-Nae, but Dan doesn’t care too much. It’s just fun.
“None of it’s important! It’s fun, it’s goofy. It’s about that dopey little ‘hehe!’ moment. Keeping it light, keeping it silly — that’s why I do comedy and why I like pop music. It’s fun, it’s effervescent. Smart-stupid is the best thing in the world. Or fun-dumb. Fun-dumb is the best thing in the world.”
Listen to Dan’s mash-up of Adele’s “Hello” and “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” below, and if you’re nice, maybe he’ll make you a mixtape and draw hearts on it, too.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 23, 2015