I see a lot of different churches make parodies for everything from #volunteerappreciation to #kidminprogramming.
To be fair parodies are a great way to engage your audience but here are some questions I ask before we write one.
- What’s the point?
Why is the parody being written? There’s times we’ll write one for a volunteer appreciation, training event, or even just a weekend to go into a skit to make it a little more engaging and fun. Usually we land on one of these three reasons.
- It’s a vehicle for a message. Whether it’s making a bottom line memorable or we’re trying to convey a point like for volunteer appreciation, I let that drive the train in lyric writing.
- We’re adding energy by using music. If we’re trying to simply entertain or move a skit along I let the plot of the skit drive the lyrics.
- We’re using the parody to add humor to an event. If it’s to make people laugh then humor needs to drive the train on lyrics. I would argue most of the time this is the PRIMARY reason so make sure you have funny people speaking into this.
- Who’s our target audience?
I’ve written about this before but as a presenter you need to know who will be hearing the song and who the audience will be. Parodies are funny and engaging when your audience knows the original song. Old school 80’s doesn’t play out super well with elementary kids but the small group leaders in the room will love it. On the flip side of the coin, the latest popular song on the radio doesn’t always work for volunteers in their 40’s but the students in the room will love it.
- Who’s writing the song?
This is a parody. Not a new original song by you. So this doesn’t need to be a musician. But it absolutely can be.
- Funny people write funny things. The biggest mistake I think people make in parodies is not inviting funny people in to help write the lyrics. Sure you often times want parodies to accomplish more than just making people laugh but when we’re conveying a point or using it for a purpose but if it’s meant to be funny… make it funny.
- Use tools to help you write catchy lyrics. If the person you think can make your audience laugh isn’t a song writer use a resource like rhymezone.com. It’s a great way to find simple rhymes to make the lyrics work.
- How easy is the song to sing? If the writer isn’t a musician (that describes me) they need to pay attention to how many syllables are in each line of the song. Getting those to match is important, especially if you’re using a live singer. I would add though lyrics fitting syllables perfectly is important; lyrics being funny and making your point is more important.
- What else can make the performance fun? Is the person singing a singer or a performer? If they are a performer you may need to coach them up on the music side of things. But if they are a singer you may need to coach them up on performing. Parodies are meant to be over the top, fun, and engaging. It’s not a normal worship song. This might mean giving them props or having them wear a fun outfit that fits the original singers style
- LYRICS! If you’re doing a parody, give the audience lyrics, don’t count on them to keep up with the singer the whole time. I would add though, be careful with putting them on the screen, don’t reveal a joke before the singer gets there, it takes away the funny delivery to the line. But having the lyrics come up during the song at the right time helps the humor and engagement by the audience.
- Would a video help? We recently did a parody to “This is Me” from the Greatest Showman. I included it below for you to see these principles at work. We played this video in the room when it was performed because the visuals in the video helped our audience see some of the jokes we wanted to land.