There is so much about this album that I love, and very little of that has anything to do with the music.
As comedy records go, Fighting Clowns isn’t exactly a standout. The Firesign Theatre made much better albums, or at least albums that hold up much better. It consists mostly of satirical songs in a sort of Broadway style, so if that’s your thing then go in peace.
Part of why I like having this one in my stacks is its catalog number: RNLP018. That makes Fighting Clowns the 18th album released by Rhino Records, which was only two years old when they put this one out in 1980. I’m a sucker for early Rhino albums, but I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the notion that they were this cool little Santa Monica record store/label that in my lifetime grew into a giant.
But the real reason that I dig this album is the cover. It looks like something out of Mad Magazine, which is good enough for me, but here’s the big reveal: This is a Phil Hartmann album cover. The guy who dropped an “N” off of his last name and became Saturday Night Live’s Phil Hartman. News Radio’s Phil Hartman. The truly brilliant comic genius who died tragically and much too young Phil Hartman. For years I’ve known he had a Poco album cover to his credit, but I had no idea that this deranged bit of lunacy was his handiwork.
Is this the coolest thing you’ve learned today? Yes. Yes it is. If you want a copy of your own to whip out and say “Guess who painted this,” you’re in luck. Copies can be had for five bucks or so. Happy hunting.