Scout Durwood first made us laugh on MTV’s Mary + Jane and Oxygen’s Funny Girls. Now, the lesbian comedian/singer/songwriter/all-around entertainer is releasing her first album for Blue Élan Records, Take One Thing Off,
The 19-track album intermingles standup with the songs loosely mapping over Durwood’s time in New York. The album will be released on May 19, but AfterEllen has obtained the full music video for the track Take One Thing Off, and we spoke with her about the project, which was directed and produced by an all female crew.
Here is what Durwood told AfterEllen about her new video, her comedy style, and why some of her lyrics include the words “jelly belly chicken wing.”
AE: How would you describe your comedy style?
SD: My comedy style is a combination of things. One is music. I started doing music in my stand up because I am generally a nervous person all the time, except for when I am singing. It was my way of bailing myself out in case I ever thought I wasn’t being funny. It’s easier to close on a song.
AE: What/who are some of your comedic influences?
SD: The biggest influence on my comedy is cabaret. All I’ve ever wanted to be is a woman in sequins singing in the back of a bar. Meow Meow has been huge in my life. Also Lady Rizzo, Bridget Everett and Steve Martin. I gravitate towards showmanship over punchlines, for sure. The other big thing I have going both for and against me is that I’m really weird without trying to be. In fact, most of the time, I’m trying really hard to be normal. Well, not most of the time, but a lot of the time. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback over the years that my comedy hits home harder when I’m rambling as opposed to doing pre-written bits. That said, I love my pre-written bits. I think they’re really funny. I tend to like to be over-prepared. So it’s sort of a controlled chaos of knowing what I want to do onstage, and then also giving myself the freedom and space to let my mind wander while I’m up there. I’m a big believer in things not being perfect. I like choreography that’s a little bit off. I like un-photoshopped bodies where they have wrinkles and creases. I like honest conversations with an audience. And mostly, I like to sing.
AE: Will you tell us what went into the making of this album and what inspired this particular project?
SD: TAKE ONE THING OFF was the first song I wrote on the album with Dave Darling. It started out as full blown word vomit, and a lot of lyrics were about chicken wings, which, incidentally, I don’t really like. I just started saying it over and over when I was looking for the melody. When I went to clean it up, I had originally wanted to cut a lot of the nonsense and make it a more cohesive pop song. I was super intent on this album being radio playable. Dave said I had to keep “chicken wing” or he would quit. So I kept it. And then Sammi (who directed the video) made it the password to all of the documents we shared, and said it was her favorite lyric. Weirdly, “jelly belly chicken wing” has been the canary lyric in the song where people hear it and think, “what did she say… I better pay attention to these lyrics.” So let it be known that you can’t plan everything, and sometimes your first guess is the right one, no matter how silly it feels at first.
The other thing for me has been that as a queer person, a lot of pop music misses my boat. I love that Gaga sings “Born This Way” but if she was engaged to a woman, I’m not sure if they would have had her headline the Super Bowl. When Beyonce sang, “if you like it then you should have put a ring on it,” I was still seven years away from the legal right to get married. What’s more than that, I’m not really interested in a lot of the conventions mainstream pop music hangs on to. I spent most of my career in pasties and a g-string onstage, but Ariana Grande lyrics still make me blush. Overall, I wanted to be the pop star I wanted to watch. Less special effects and more special affects, if you know what I mean. I like the process as well as the results. The fireworks within last significantly longer than the fireworks without.
AE: The video blends comedy and music in a way most audiences haven’t seen before. Is this genre something you’ll continue to explore?
SD: The video was the same balance of controlled chaos I like to have onstage, and is the brainchild of Sammi Cohen and Sarah King. We wanted something colorful, queer and just left of center. Also, I can’t believe we got a motorcycle into a laundromat, but we did. As to my overall work, I have the blessing/curse of being interested in a lot of things, which is fantastic for staying busy but tricky when it comes to staying focused. Touring a multi-genre album like this has always been my dream, but it took years to get all the resources together to do it. Blue Elan has been a big part of that. The fact that they’ve funded this weird, wonderful little project of mine is an incredible testament to their willingness to take risks, which is so far from the name of the game in the entertainment industry. I guess over time, I’ve learned to take myself and my comedy a little more seriously and be a little less of a woman in sequins singing in a bar. Now I’m a woman with even more sequins singing in an even bigger bar. I’ll take it!
Take One Thing Off will be released by Blue Elan Records on May 19. Pre-Order the album HERE