Mean Wendy Band
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Mean Wendy Band

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Comedy Alternative




"Flannelpalooza Chuckoachella: 7 rules for making your own joke band"

Jawbone Junction
Jawbone Junction
Flannelpalooza Chuckoachella: 7 rules for making your own joke band
By Samuel Lieberman

June 12, 2015 at 3:53 pm
On the third floor of the Asian Arts Initiative, a warehouse on 12th and Vine, there is a mock music festival going on. The third floor is littered with vendors selling Twin Peaks patches, hot pockets and caricatures. The stage is dead center, as a crowd of 30-somethings sip beer and prepare to laugh.

Welcome to Flannelpalooza Chuckoachella, Philly’s first-ever indoor joke band music festival. Around ten bands played ranging from the absurdist to the clever to the glammed-out-party-joke band.

The joke band has always held an odd place in my life. It was something I thought you should never do, unless you were Ben Folds, Bo Burnham or Weird Al. I thought it was an easy shtick, something halfway between real music and real comedy, and kind of missing both. But after last night, I am realizing that there is a formula. There is a way to make it work.

So with out further ado, Billy Penn presents this how-to guide for creating your own “joke band,” based on our night at “Flannelpalooza Chuckoachella.”

Rule 1: Shtick like you mean it
At Flannelpalooza Chuckoachella, there is a prix fixe of shtick. But for your “joke band” you have to pick your shtick wisely. Shtick is a fickle friend. You may want to:

Wrap flannel around your waist, rip the knees of your jeans, strap up the Converse and get your grunge voice growlin’ parody “Creep” covers.
Craft stripped down pop gems about how your dog is a better companion than most people, lyrically profess your love for eight hour Netflix binges, and write a farewell ode to your sweatpants.
Tell the audience that you have prepared a whole album, but you have only been allotted six minutes to perform so you will only be playing the beginnings of all your songs.
Play bluegrass.
Do a guitar solo with just your voice. The onomatopoeia is “Wheeeee whee wheee.”
Forget how to play accordion half way through your set. “That’s all I practiced, I didn’t think that we would have this much time.”
Rule 2: Your band name should be fun to say
Joke band names should reference either a body part, food, flannel, leather, motorcycles, your dog, your ex-girlfriend, Dame Judi Dench, or prescription behavioral drugs for children.

But that is not enough. A joke band name lives and dies on how much fun it is for your lips and tongue to say it. Use alliteration. Repeat vowel sounds. When you say your joke band name on stage people should be astonished that two or three words can be a mouth symphony.

Names of bands at Flannelpalooza: Useful Rooster, The White Cheddar Boys, The Mean Wendy Band, Brasshole Fiasco, Jawbone Junction, and the Flannel Chucks.

Rule 3: Rhyme, most of the… time
Harsh truth for the joke band: the prevailing joke is just that the songs’ lyrics rhyme. Pick a banal moment from your life, like your girlfriend shaving your beard “I’ve been shaaaaved by a woman,” if you can create lyrics that rhyme for the entirety of a two-minute song. Your joke band is a success. No questions asked.

Like the Netflix bingeing song by Useful Rooster, “That’s my show, that’s my show/gonna watch it 8 hours in a row.”

Or, again, singing about a woman you know who has a very “dirty mouth,” if it rhymes it’s sublime. “Pee pee poo poo piss and shit/I’ve never met a woman who talks like this.”

Jokes work on the basis of the defied expectations. So, if in your joke band you start your song and the audience is like, “Why is he singing about his sweaty pants?” and then the song just continues to be a song, it will work, the audience’s expectation for what a song is supposed to be about will be dashed.

Not to get too heady, but that is the operating theory of the joke band.

Rule 4: If it’s Southern rock, show some leg
Just a general rule of thumb.

Rule 5: Stage banter is key
In a joke band you need to be that people know that you are joking. Reach out. Let them know that you feel “a little sad and dorky up here.” Talk about the fact that you have, in fact, made out with another person. Tell the audience how well they are doing.

The banter establishes a space where everyone is laughing, you are not the joke, you are making the joke.

See? Big difference.

Rule 6: Sing beautiful joke songs about the sublime and/or ridiculous
When people in the audience start to realize what you are doing their beer-drunk chatter may turn into light laughter. Just keep singing, the joke gets funnier that longer the song is. Keep going, honestly, they’ll get it soon enough.

Rule 7: People need to hear you
Personal conclusion/opinion: jokes are better than irony. If you are doing a Southern Rock or R&B send up. Don’t rely on the genre alone to win you laughs. No matter if you fall to the floor, your heart palpitating with with your Gibson SG’s high-pitched wails, your song about a killer one night stand should at the very least be audible.

Your lyrics will not always register with everyone in the crowd. So just make sure they hear the important parts. If you are singing about how you want to be “Friends,” hit “Chandler” especially hard. - Billy Penn Blog

"Pair of Musical Comedy Acts Takes Over the PHIT Stage on May 21"

Improv and sketch comedy shows form the core of the Philly Improv Theater’s timeslots. Soon, though, a set of new local musical comedy acts will take the stage as part of PHIT’s variety programming.

On Thursday, The Flannel Chucks and The Mean Wendy Band each will play a set of witty songs in an all-musical comedy show, in one of the first of its kind at PHIT,

The Flannel Chucks, who conceived and organized this summer’s Flannelpalooza Chuckoachella, bill themselves as “Philadelphia’s ONLY Grunge Rock Parody Cover Band”. They play some of your favorite 90s songs, but with new words, ranging from the deranged to the impressively clever. (And, yes, their outfits match their name.)

The Mean Wendy Band started as a solo project with original songs by Wendy Lenhart, who was then playing in First Friday shows with now-defunct musical improv group Interrobang. The “Band” grew to include Interrobang’s accompanist, Zach Wiseley, in addition to Lenhart on vocals and ukulele. By November 2014’s Black Friday Comedy Marathon, “Wendy’s Man Band” included two more members, Ryan T. Barlow and Brian Kelly. The members hope to record and write more songs over the summer. - Geekadelphia

"Geek of the Week Wendy Lenhart: Zoo Keeper and Musical Comedian"

Wendy Lenhart is a zookeeper/musical comedian, which keeps her busy around Philadelphia working with animals and playing with humans. We caught up with her recently to ask about her life.

How did you become a zookeeper?
My degree is from Penn State University where I majored in Agricultural Education with a minor in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. I went through a student teaching semester, but teaching high school just didn’t feel like the right fit for me. (In reality, I got the teaching degree to makes my parents happy, and the minor to make me happy.) After graduation and a summer field study in Belize I interned and picked-up part-time education hours at the Philadelphia Zoo. By the winter, I knew I wanted to work my way up to being a keeper and working directly with the animals, specifically birds. My first zookeeping adventure was at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City where I spent 3 months as an aviculture intern. I hesitate to mention when (because it indicates my age!) but I was fortunate enough to be there for the Winter Olympics and to also make it out to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival. I landed my first keeper job at the San Antonio Zoo the following spring in their gigantic bird department. They have 20 keepers just for birds! Almost a year to the day I left, the Philadelphia Zoo had an opening in their bird department, so I interviewed, got it, and then returned to my beloved East Coast. South Texas was great, but I’m 100% Philly girl at heart.

What’s a day at work like for you? How much facetime do you get with animals?
As an Open Relief Keeper in the Mammal Department, I can be placed in any of the 15 mammal areas in which I’m trained. Each animal area has a slightly different routine based upon animal needs and the keeper talk schedule. As an open, I’ll periodically help primary keepers (keepers who manage a single animal area) with animal moves, veterinary exams, or fill in where needed for vacations, sick calls, or as extra help. I recently spent a large part of my day in Fairmount Park wielding a chainsaw with a few of my colleagues to help clean up a fallen tree that can be used for animal perching. I can literally never get bored. And to answer your question, I get plenty of facetime with animals. It’s a crucial part of the job to get to know their routines and their quirks so you can ensure that they are receiving everything they need. Keepers are the advocates for their animals and are the ones who set them up to succeed.

Are you involved in animals beyond the Philadelphia area?
I’m on the 3rd year of a 4 year term on the Board of Directors for my professional organization, the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK). I’m the oversight for the conservation projects for the organization. The association recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of one of our longest running conservation programs, “Bowling for Rhinos.” Essentially, for the last 25 years, AAZK chapters at zoos around the country have been funding and organizing bowling fundraisers to benefit rhino conservation efforts for the 5 (all endangered) species of rhinos. Last fall, AAZK hit a major milestone and can say that keepers’ volunteer efforts have raised over 5 million dollars in 25 years. To give you an idea of how few rhinos are left in the world: if you ignored the fact that rhino butts are bigger than people butts, you could seat every rhino left on this planet in Citizens Bank Park and still have over 1/3 of the seats empty. (You can follow the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of AAZK’s “Bowling for Rhinos: Philadelphia” Facebook page if you want to get involved with the local AAZK chapter’s efforts for 2016.)

Do you keep animals at home?
I have two cats and a ball python named Julio. Sibley the cat was dropped off at the Zoo as a stray 9 years ago, and I adopted Churchill the cat from a local special needs animal rescue called Joa’s Arc last year. He has a condition called CH that affects his balance, but other than looking wobbly, he gets around and feels just fine. Julio the ball python was found in the Northern Liberties being “set free” by some kids. A zoo colleague who was at the right place at the right time snatched him up from the well-meaning kids and he has a home with me now. A tropical snake like Julio would not have fared well in the Philadelphia winter.

When you’re not in your professional life, how do you keep busy?
My family is in Berks Country, so I try to visit them once or twice a month over my weekend. My little niece Audrey has me a little baby-crazy, though I don’t plan to have kids myself. I’m in a bit of a lazy spell lately, but I also enjoy having bike adventures around Philly. It’s really the best way to get around and I sure do love my Trek road bike! I’m also a returning student at CCP in the music department. It’s always been a dream of mine to do vocal performance, and I’m fortunate enough to also have recently created a band of sorts that lets me indulge in that.

I know that that “band of sorts” has a comic angle to it. What led you to musical comedy?
I did musical theater in high school and had a blast. It was really magical to see an entire school come together to put something together just for the fun of it. As a teenager, I had a lot of self-confidence issues, but my willingness to act like a goof and sing well got me enough attention that I started to feel a little less down on myself. More recently, I felt some nostalgia when I turned 30 and started to pursue singing and music again through a choir stint and my former musical improv group, Interrobang. My current project is a comedy band called Mean Wendy Band. It’s me and my “Man Band” of 4 guys, all of whom I’ve met through different comedy projects in the Philadelphia community. (The “Man Band” includes Ryan T. Barlow, Brian Kelly, Dan Kristie, and Zachary Wiseley.) The name comes from the fact that my mother always told me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” She didn’t say anything about singing though! We write original songs about the various “mean” pursuits of our lives in a variety of musical styles. I like to think we’re a nice mix of Stephen Lynch and Flight of the Conchords. However, my view of what is “mean” is likely skewed by the fact that I was only allowed to watch PBS for a large portion of my childhood. We’re still pretty blue though- except for the song I wrote about how much I love my sweatpants.

Anything else you want to share with Geekadelphia readers?
Do what makes you happy. It makes a big difference. - Geekadelphia

"Philly's own Mean Wendy comedy band takes home international songwriting award"

The Band Perry. Andrew Bird. Bastille.

Mean Wendy Band.

The latter, a popular Philly based comedy group joined those well know groups after winning at the International Songwriting Competition in Nashville, Tenn on May 16. The six-person sack of funny celebrated an honorable mention nod in the Comedy/Novelty category at the event.

The group, led by singer Wendy Lenhart won for “Cute Song,” a duet with fellow band member Zachary Wiseley that playfully mocked the communication breakdown in relationships. Each year, the ISC receives thousands of submissions from all over the world and for this edition, the panel chose from over 16,000 contestants.

“I wrote all the dirty stuff!” joked Lenhart, who won the award alongside Wiseley and fellow Philly area comedians Ryan T. Barlow, Brian Kelly and Dan Kristie. “Sometimes I think that maybe I’m disturbed, but when I’m with the rest of the band I feel like, no, I'm with my people, this is okay.”

Mean Wendy Band has appeared at NYC Sketchfest, the People’s Improv Theater and most notably on created a “Rockumentary” comedy short on the website of popular comedy HBO show, Funny or Die. Mean Wendy Band also does shows locally at L'Etage, the Grape Room, Johnny Brenda's, PHIT Comedy and World Cafe Live among others.

Next up, the winners will appear at a music showcase in Ardmore on June 9 at the Rusty Nail and will play at the two-day Lady Bug Festival in Wilmington, Del. on July 21.

TWITTER: @SPRTSWTR - Philadelphia Weekly

"Ladybugs IN the Spotlight: Mean Wendy Band"

Musical comedy is the red-headed stepchild of the genre; overlooked, misunderstood and eccentric. The Mean Wendy Band, brain stepchild of songwriter, musician and singer WENDY LENHART and her Man Band embraces those ostensibly adverse aspects, feels their pain, hugs them to death, and then sends their bewildered but sated ghosts back out into the world to possess their audience with wry amusement (“Do you remember the Challenger?” she asks of a much, much younger prospective love interest). Lenhart’s voice conveys a theatrical one, but rather than invoking thoughts of Hamilton, Wicked, or Legally Blonde, it’s more Whose Line Is It Anyway? Which is precisely the point; the group makes collaborative musical improv comedy. The band—RYAN T. BARLOW (bass guitar), BRIAN KELLY (conga drum), DAN KRISTIE (lead guitar) and ZACHARY WISELEY (vocals, keyboard, acoustic guitar)—lays the foundation for Wendy’s humbly ostentatious inflection to set up the scenario and deliver a punchline or three; perhaps a light funk sound, a 60’s Phil Spector-like girl-group number, or maybe even a coffeehouse, international or children’s music vibe. And though their 2016 self-titled studio release is full of the expected tuneful hilarity, on the stage and in front of an audience is where they thrive. The group has killed it at both musical and comedy venues alike (they recently took part in NYC’s Sketchfest 2016), as the open setting allows their written material to breathe while INterjecting improvisation throughout, the formula resulting in an organic and evolving routine that leaves the crowd in stitches. No matter what your circumstances are, a chance for an in person closeup of Mean Wendy Band at Ladybug is guaranteed to make you feel like you were raised by both of your birth parents.

INterested? Check out more on Mean Wendy Band at the links below! - IN Wilmington DE


Mean Wendy Band EP (October 2016)



The Mean Wendy Band is a Philadelphia-based comedy band with roots in both music performance and sketch comedy. Lead vocalist and sketch/improv comedian, Wendy Lenhart started writing original songs in 2014 and soon collected a “Man Band” to join in the fun.  Just this May, Wendy and the guys were recognized with an honorable mention in the 2016 International Songwriting Competition, standing out with their original and hilarious, “Cute Song” to judges amid over 16,000 song entries. Her handsome and talented Man Band is: Ryan Barlow on bass guitar, Brian Kelly on conga drum, Dan Kristie on lead guitar and Zachary Wiseley on additional vocals, keyboard, acoustic guitar and whatever else he is asked to play. Mean Wendy Band songs grow collaboratively between Wendy and the Man Band and showcase a variety of musical genres from the crooner years of the 1950s, some smooth 1970s singer-songwriter tunes to a somewhat misdirected childrens’ song. The Mean Wendy Band would like you to know that if they don’t have anything nice to say, they don’t say anything at all….except when they’re singing. Despite the intentions of their name, they are really quite nice people. Check out their original rock doc, “Mean Wendy Band Changes the World” on Funny or Die and find their self-titled EP on itunes and beyond.

Band Members