But on his most recent album, Kelly decides to go all in with the comedy and go where no kids' musician has gone before -- the standup comedy club. The album titled My First Comedy Album is a misnomer, because most of his albums have been comedic at their core, but it is his first attempt at recording a show in a comedy club. (With a two juice-box minimum? Unclear.)
Billy Kelly is hardly the only artist to provide a healthy dose of humor on their albums for the single-digit set. Recess Monkey, for example, have been on the jokier end of the musical spectrum, and wrote an entire song ("Knocktopus") revolving around the first jokes most preschoolers learn -- knock-knock jokes. Josh and the Jamtones did an entire album called Bear Hunt that was essentially a long set of riffs loosely connected by songs that eventually became a movie, as if one of those two-guys-talking-in-front-of-a-microphone podcasts became an animated production. The latest Michael and the Rockness Monsters album Funny Faces features a handful of silly songs that harken back to the era of novelty songs. Cory Cullinan and Richard Perlmutter use comedy to carve an entrance for kids into classical music. And Eric Herman did an entire sketch and music comedy album titled The Incredibly Spaced-Out Adventures of Jupiter Jackson.
One thing you might notice scanning down that list is that it's made up entirely of males. And my perception is that guys tend to be given more leeway to do silly things in kids music, which means that female artists like Joanie Leeds, Sirius-XM's/Wow in the World's Mindy Thomas, or the much-missed-in-kindie Ashley Albert of The Jimmies who traffic in broader humor like their male counterparts above are more the exception. (And women such as Molly Ledford who use humor sometimes more subtly are often overlooked.) It's a little disappointing, to be sure.
Both lists above also highlight the fact that comedy crafted specifically for kids is pretty hard to find. Find someone to animate your jokes and craft a 6-, 11-, or 22-minute story around them, and you too can get your own development deal. But sketch comedy for kids, especially audio-only sketch comedy for kids, is reaaally hard to find. As best I can tell, the only folks doing that full-time are The Listies, who are based in Australia, so even though they tour a lot, it's probably too much to expect that they just criss-cross the United States week after week. (Note: I very much recommend listening to The Listies. Maybe they'll change their minds about the States.)
Into this void, then, jumps Billy Kelly, father of two, purveyor of dad jokes, whose puns earn groans from the audience (when was the last time you heard that on a comedy album?). And Kelly certainly does take a few opportunities to speak directly to the kids who are sitting in his mixed age audience, noting that he got them into the [comedy] club and noting that kids do, in fact, catch a break. Like, a lot.
But for the most part, Kelly trains his eye on more absurdist topics, like deciding to forego bird-watching for bird watcher-watching.