What do Yoda, "CHiPs" and The Dead Milkmen have in common? On the surface, nothing really, unless you're JP Incorporated, in which case, these are all glimmers of what made you who you are today.
Born from the ashes of alt-comedy musical act Pleaseeasaur, JP Inc. is comedian J.P. Hasson. A comedy veteran at the tender age of 32, his foray into laughs began in his teens with the production of the earliest Pleaseeasaur tapes. Originally from a small town near Seattle, Hasson's comedy pilgrimage to Los Angeles isn't as clichéd as one might think.
Those Pleaseeasaur tapes, passed to one of his childhood idols, Dead Milkmen guitarist and vocalist Joe Jack Talcum, eventually led to Hasson recording music with his hero and, after graduating high school, relocating from Washington to L.A. to pursue music.
"My tan was fading," Hasson said, "so I had to move from Seattle to L.A. Oh, and also, I was playing music."
Over the next several years, he honed his comedy as well, releasing several records under the Pleaseeasaur moniker. He eventually signed to Comedy Central Records and put out "The Amazing Adventures of Pleaseeasaur" CD/DVD in 2006, featuring animation from the artists of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.
If you're wondering why, in his multiple treks across the country, you haven't seen him at your local comedy club, there's good reason. While he frequently performs with popular stand-up comedian Neil Hamburger, many of the comedian's tours have featured the unlikeliest of shared billings, including guitar virtuoso Buckethead and San Diego indie rockers Pinback. JP Inc. does musical comedy, but Hasson admits he still catches some audiences by surprise.
"I feel that 50 percent of them are half-receptive," Hasson said. "The other 50 percent are 70 percent confused, and 100 percent of them aren't sure if it's OK to laugh. And that 100 percent, that's only the people who have never experienced it before, so there could be anywhere from one to 40 percent of those people who have seen JP Inc. before. They would already know what they were getting into and would never question it, and this equation would have never come up."
In store for audiences is something of a multimedia presentation. Hasson performs in costume and uses video projections to perform his repertoire " a barrage of television theme songs for fictional programs, many of which are included on his most recent CD, August's "An Album of Distinction." However campy his theme songs may be, the comedian's obsession with the art of the TV theme is lifelong.
"'Hill Street Blues,' I loved that theme song. There was something so intense about it, but I wasn't really allowed to watch that show," Hasson said. "It was on sort of late, and it was a violent cop show. So the only thing I could associate with it is what the intro offered. I totally created this whole other idea of what it was about. I don't even know what it's about. I never sat down to watch it because I don't want to ruin my mental image. Then, I progressed to 'Hardcastle and McCormick' because I liked the song, but I didn't really like the show. Then, everything came together in the form of 'CHiPs.'
"'CHiPs' was a fantastic show with motorcycles and weird people doing bad stuff " like, during the day. If somebody's going to burglarize a house at night, then they have a job, probably. When they're doing crime during the day, that means that's all they've got. And that theme song with the synthesizers just fucking blew my mind. So that's when it all came together."
Again, it's important to stress that Hasson's love of television themes is quite serious.
"People who know that song will understand," he said. "I don't think they'll question it. The people that don't understand need to get their heads out of their asses!"
As someone who has spent a large share of his adult life in costume, Hasson, ironically, has a less-than-fond recollection of his best childhood Halloween costume.
"I was so excited because I was Yoda. It was a cheap drugstore costume, but it had a pretty good plastic mask and this vinyl bodysuit that you wore over your clothes," he said. "It had " and this is what I liked about it " a picture of Yoda on the chest. Of a Yoda costume. I remember the whole night, I was looking down, admiring the picture, not appreciating that I was actually Yoda at the time.
"But this was Washington state, and it was cold, rainy and crappy out. I was bundled up, and I got really sick because vinyl doesn't breathe, and it created this mini-rain forest inside my bodysuit. I couldn't make that up if I tried."
Hallopolis: Night 1: Rainbows Are Free, JP Inc., Crocodile and more begins at 9 p.m. Friday and Hallopolis: Night 2: Evangelicals, JP Inc. and Gentle Ghost begins at 9 p.m. Saturday at Opolis, 113 N. Crawford in Norman. "Becky Carman