Combine Stephen Lynch's uproarious lyrics with his acoustic-guitar stylings and the devious glances he casts during songs such as "Craig Christ" -- a tune about Jesus' previously unknown delinquent brother -- and you've got the perfect mix of music and comedy. Doors open at 8 p.m. Saturday in the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts for the comedian-musician hybrid's performance in support of his new CD, "3 Balloons" -- a reference to smuggling drugs in all the wrong places.
>"3 Balloons" was recorded in a studio with a full band. Your previous two albums were live. Why the switch, and how was it different?
It's fun to get together with your pals and sit around and jam out and experiment with different things. It's just more creatively interesting for me. And I really enjoy the process of sitting in the studio and saying, 'Let's add a xylophone here,' or 'Let's blow on this jug.'
>Your songs begin so innocently.
I'm not opposed to hitting someone over the head with something immediately. It just seems that when I write, I like to take my time to ease into subject matter. I guess it's just my style. It's something I've developed over the years.
>I read Paul Simon is an influence. I hear it in your guitar style, but "Craig Christ" doesn't sound much like "Homeward Bound" lyrically.
I can survive just sitting on a stool on a stage with a guitar singing songs. I think it's that tradition of singer-songwriter that I mean when I say I'm influenced by people like that. They tell a story, and that's what I try to do. And, actually, "Craig Christ" was a complete "Homeward Bound" rip-off. You just hadn't noticed the subtle nuances of it yet.
>Right, now I see it. So did you know Spinal Tap is reuniting?
I did. They're actually playing in a couple of the same venues I am. I hope to catch them. They were probably my biggest influence.
>Spinal Tap told us it's a fine line between clever and stupid. Do you struggle to stay on the clever side?
(Laughs.) Of course. It's a constant battle. I actually write late at night. My own personal test is if I laugh at it or I think it's funny and if I go to sleep then look at it and don't think it's funny, then I've crossed over into stupidity. If I still think it's funny, then I stick to my guns and say, 'OK, I'll play it. It's clever.'
>How nice is it to combine two talents like someone as funny as Steve Martin who can also whip out a banjo and play it expertly?
Secretly, I wish sometimes that I could do one or the other. I wish I could play music and not have to worry about being funny. Or I wish I could be funny and not have to worry about hitting the right notes or how tired my voice seems that day. It comes with the added pressure of having to be good at both things at the same time, but I'm not complaining. I'll take what I have.
-- Joseph Popiolkowski