Funny, profane, girly music
Few performers can turn a night of karaoke into a successful career in show business, but Dan Finnerty pulled it off. You might know Finnerty and his comedic musical group, The Dan Band, from their scene stealing appearance in the iconic comedy “Old School,” but that performance is a sliver of a remarkable story.
In advance of The Dan Band’s July 1 shows at the Key West Theater, we caught up with foul-mouthed lead singer (and incredibly nice guy) to discuss grown men performing female-power anthems, being in the right place at the right time, and how drunkenly singing “I Am Woman” can change your life.
Keys Weekly: So, I heard you were a cast member of Stomp?
DF: I was living in New York, trying out for things, and one day as a joke, I got in line for a Stomp audition. It was after a bad callback for another Broadway show and I saw the line and thought, “Well, I’m out and already took a shower.”
KW: Sometimes it helps to not take things too seriously.
DF: This whole girl song thing started as a joke, too. In New York I sang “I Am Woman” at karaoke and thought it was really funny. When I moved to L.A. a friend of mine needed someone to open for her to make it look like she was headlining saying, “Just sing anything, it doesn’t matter.”
KW: And that led to more gigs?
DF: The guy who books the Viper Room happened to be there and he started booking me. Then, later on, I started playing at Largo.
KW: This all leads up to the Bravo network special you had in 2005, right?
DF: At one point after the show my wife came backstage and said Steven Spielberg is here to see you. (Laughing) And I was like, “good one.”
KW: THE Steven Spielberg?
DF: Yeah, it was that one. He came up and said (sincere voice), “My wife and I loved the movie Old School because my company Dream Works produced it … and he’s like going down his resume. I said, “I know your work, man. I could probably help you out.”
KW: Watching your live show, I was struck by the eclectic audience.
DF: At first, the more popular it got, the girls would be dragging their boyfriends who would just get drunk enough to out themselves for knowing every word of these songs. But then once the movies came out it turned into guys dragging their girlfriends to the show.
KW: I was also surprised how little the show is like your rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in Old School.
DF: It’s funny, because “Total Eclipse” is the least entertaining song in the whole show.
KW: Have you gone all rock star yet and refused to play it?
DF: Oh no, I’m a whore. One time they asked us to do it again, and I was like, “Okay.” I didn’t care. It was some private party at the Playboy mansion, all these sad Wall Street guys who by midnight were disillusioned that it wasn’t going to be this free sex party.
KW: Was working on those movies as much fun as it looked?
DF: It was awesome, especially “Old School.” Todd Phillips said I’m doing this scene and it just says, “Wedding singer sings.” What would you sing at a wedding?
KW: And next thing you’re changing “Total Eclipse” forever?
DF: Todd said, “Wait, are you going to say fuck like you do in your show? And I was like, can I? And he’s like, ‘fuck yeah.’ And I’m like, ‘well fucking buckle up.’”
KW: What’s next for you and the Dan Band?
DF: I’m working on a one-man show that I wrote about growing up and it’ll debut early next winter. We’re doing it at a theater outside of Boston and then hope to bring it to New York.
KW: The title?
DF: (laughing) It’s called “Little Orphan Danny” because I was adopted. It’s all about growing up in a small farm town, and finding my birth mother, and working that out with my mom. It is a comedy, but it gets tender in the middle.”
KW: Ever been to Key West?
DF: No, I haven’t. And at first I didn’t have the right visual in my head, but when I realized where it actually is and what it looks like, I thought, “This is awesome.” We’re very excited, and I really hope people come out and have a good time.
By Thomas File