MUSIC+FEAR+COMEDY=THE SENSIBILITIES OF ROGER BAINBRIDGE

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The most famous paintings of Beethoven depict him with a furrowed brow and wispy hair, a slightly mad genius furiously creating; pushing himself to produce works that never fully satisfy himself while seemingly inconceivable for the average man. Replace the piano with a comedic storyline and the symphony with a cast and film crew and you have an appropriate analogy for Roger Bainbridge. If such a phenomenon as Comedic Artistic Attention Deficit Disorder (CAADD) exists, Bainbridge is the spokesperson for it. Vacillating between formats such as; theater, film, live sketch comedy, music videos, and others, with his role as Executive Producer, writer, and actor, this Canadian comedic force has created a unique voice blending the dark and the humorous presentation of everyday life as well as fantasy. Regardless of the avenue with which he presents his ideas, Roger has created an identifiable voice in dramedy, most often presented through the vehicle of his comedy trio Tony Ho. The group, which includes Miguel Rivas and Adam Niebergall, has grown from sketch comedy into music video and film presentations. In the same way that Monty Python did some forty years ago, Tony Ho has become a brand of comedy with its own style and temperament. Modern accessibility to media and technology gave Roger the ability to experience all levels of production from conception to presentation. He used this knowledge to connect with and create the means by which Tony Ho and other artists would gain access to more ubiquitous means of presentation as their careers grew. Regardless of the production, his “fingerprint” is felt. This is surprising and satisfying in the music videos “Never Come Down” by Brave Shores and “Street Violence” by Digits. Both videos challenge us to look at dark situations and find the means by which to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation by accepting our own lack of control of it. The “Tony Ho” brand that Bainbridge has worked so intensely to create is hard to place into words; in an effort to define it one might state that it is, “look at all the awful things that can happen in life, shouldn’t you take some respite in how ridiculous it all is and the fact that you can’t control or understand it all?”

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The success of the “Violence” video and Roger’s acclaim for his roles both behind and in front of the camera resulted in other musical groups seeking him out to be the creative force behind their music videos. When Brave Shores needed a video for their single “Never Come Down”, they reached out to Bainbridge because of his work on “Violence” and the films of Tony Ho. Jay McCarrol of Brave Shoes comments, “When I approached Roger, he pitched an idea about a bald guy who wishes for hair and suddenly gets a full head of green hair, which would be green screened to become different colors.  He pitched it in one sentence and it was perfect.  It was great to see his talent has such range. He could just put his unique spin on anything. When you work with Roger it’s because he can be so unpredictable, that’s what we wanted.  I knew he was some sort of mad genius when I saw all of the Tony Ho stuff.  Roger possess a different kind of “it” factor, the very rare kind.  Something about him is so pleasantly haunting.” Roger admits that he has always been a fan of music videos which extend the ideas and mood of the song while also becoming a piece of art themselves. With “Never Come Down” he felt there were multiple layers, as he describes, “The song was kind of an expression of ‘ignorance is bliss’, ‘I’m just gonna have fun, and go with what feels good, f*#k all this worry.’ This can be a great sentiment, to a point. I wanted to explore the idea of someone getting everything they want. Is it responsible to just live a blissed out life? Are you living in a way that considers others and yourself? My idea was to kind of sneakily make a video about the virtues of responsibility while making it feel like a party the whole time. I don’t know if that makes me a Christian Youth Counsellor or something, but it’s probably just another example of me being a contrarian. You say party, I say be a responsible father.” brave-shores-1-945x500

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The video shows Adam Niebergall (of Tony Ho) as the main character who is granted his wish of long luxurious (color changing, sometimes psychedelic) hair and proceeds to only care about whipping that hair and head banging. While amongst trick bikers, on the beach, or a number of settings, he casts off all responsibilities, including his now pregnant romantic interest. Karma seems to exact its penance from him at the end of the video as he has given himself a fatal neck injury…as a result of his new flowing locks. It’s a modern pop/electronic fable about not focusing on the self, delivered in the humorous and yet biting way for which Bainbridge is known. Whether creating thought provoking and laughter eliciting films or music videos that still manage to carry his voice in their message, Roger Bainbridge has become known in Canada as the person to go to when you need someone to take a project from inception to production and presentation. He is pleased to be the means by which others can further their art whether it be in the role of Executive Producer, writer, or actor. Bainbridge admits that he is still sometimes jolted back into reality, in particular in regards to his involvement with musicians and their videos. He confirms, “I love music videos. I feel like I’m part of the generation that really got the last gasp of them on television. I grew up watching them on MuchMusic, watching for hours waiting for cool ones to come on. I really loved the stuff coming out for the 90’s British bands like Blur or Radiohead or Pulp. They were so glossy and arty and different. It made the world feel a lot bigger than the small Ontario town I grew up in. But it never really occurred to me that I’d ever have the occasion to make one.”

 

 

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