Rob Kutner, a Conan writer and friend of Zulkey, is the co-creator of a new comedy project, It’s OK To Do Stuff, an album that pays tribute to Marlo Thomas’ Free To Be… You And Me. That classic album celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, and like the original, It’s Okay To Do Stuff features appearances by comics, actors and musicians like Lizzy Caplan, Eddie Pepitone, Andy Richter, Fred Willard, Megan Amram, Eugene Mirman, Colin Hanks, The Go-Go’s Jane Wiedlin, former Barenaked Ladies’ front man Steven Page and others. original. Proceeds from the album will be donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. I asked Rob to tell me about one of his favorite tracks, “Friends of Friends,” which you can listen to here.
Going into this project with my collaborators, Joel and Stephen Levinson, I had a couple of hazy notions of what songs I wanted off the bat. But once that was quickly exhausted, we reached that first creative plateau. So Joel freestyled a list of just near-random one-liners that could be titles, lyrics, whatever — two honorable mentions were “I Can Be You Can Be Too!” and “Why Didn’t You Tell Me, I Wouldn’t Have Minded!” But the one that leapt off the page was “Friends of Friends.” One of those almost-never moments where a song about awkward third-party acquaintanceships but joyful like the original album’s “Glad To Have a Friend Like You” just formed itself spontaneously in my brain.
At some point during the writing, we started working in little snippets of awkward cocktail party conversation between FOFs, and then that took over the song, making it as Joel put it, “one endless groovy ’70s party.”
To voice these partygoers, I recruited some of my favorite comedy cohorts. Andy Richter was, of course, easiest to corral, since his office is 20 feet from mine. But I also got former Daily Show colleagues Sam Bee and Wyatt Cenac to participate. But… we were recording all of this the week Hurricane Sandy hit New York! So I’m sending them text messages like, “Are you OK? Is your family safe?” but my subtext is, “Are you going into the office today to record my comedy bit?” A recurring motif in my life: My humanitarian concerns exist in complete contrast to my showbiz ones.
It’s OK To Do Stuff is available via retailers including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Rooftop Comedy, and will also be available to stream on Pandora, Spotify, and Last.fm, among others.